What do you get when you mix extreme manliness from Shonen Jump’s yesteryear with the inventiveness and fun of One Piece? Toriko!
Writer/Artist: Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro
What They Say
Toriko may have succeeded in capturing the Puffer Whale, but removing its poison is a whole other challenge. His friends Coco and Komatsu better use their delicate skills with a knife to remove the poison pouch, or Toriko's never going to get to enjoy the delicious spoils of a successful hunt. But what is the mysterious creature that has appeared to ruin all the fun...?
For those not in the know, Toriko takes place in a world where the only thing that matters is gourmet food. This world is filled with fantastical creatures that take a creative spin on real animals, and making them huge nine times out of ten. In this world there are those known as Gourmet Hunters, people who make a living hunting down the most exotic creatures for either food at a fancy restaurant for big money or to fulfill their individual Ultimate Full Course Meal!
Toriko, the main character of the series (D’uh) is a mountain of a man! He is the kind of character that we used to see all the time in the 80s and 90s (Fist of the North Star, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and Grappler Baki come to mind); fierce, intuitive, a fuck-all attitude, and the muscles to back his mouth! Add in some burning passion, for food and justice of course!, and you get a wacked out character who is so much fun to watch that you never get bored.
The artwork has a very clean refined look to it and the creatures and environments introduced so far are very quirky and fun, just like another Shonen Jump title you might have heard of called One Piece. The crazy powers and abilities of both Toriko and the gourmet creatures bring the same level of inventiveness and fun that One Piece has. The truly fantastical mixed with the detailed manly designs of many of the characters is what makes Toriko stand out for me. It gives this extreme action movie feel with the wide open possibility that anything and everything can and likely will happen.
So what happens in volume 3? Finishing where the last volume left off, our team of Toriko, Coco, and Komatsu are still trying to successfully remove the poison sacs from the Puffer whales they caught. Sure Coco ruined 9 of the 10 but now Komatsu will have a try, meanwhile Toriko is smoking and fishing along the lagoon’s bank (classic!). The ability to switch from wild and wacky to strategic and sincere adds to the comedy of the situation for me. I really enjoyed the two pages where it shows Komatsu physically removing the poison sac, very Black Jack-like in its setting of tone and emphasis on the skill involved.
Afterwards, a mysterious figure appears that completely terrifies both Toriko and Coco. It turns out the figure is some kind of robot going around killing gourmet creatures and stealing the most valuable of gourmet foods. To combat this threat, the IGO hire Toriko to go to Biotope 1 and protect the Regal Mammoth! Once on Biotope 1 we meet another ridiculous character, the director of Biotope 1, Mansom. Mansom is another giant with extreme personality quirks that make him instantly likeable and a character I was looking forward to seeing in action.
The story shifts to Toriko in Biotope 1 meeting his old friend Mansom and then being shown a Creature Battle Arena! The rest of the volume goes through the battle arena’s fights and has Toriko getting the burning passion to protect a Battle Wolf mother! Then the robot shows up and it is on like Troll Kong! This series and this volume are great examples of how manga can just have fun with its story. It never takes itself seriously and while it may not be deep food for thought (pun intended) it’s extremely enjoyable and a pure delight to read.
Toriko is pretty new and quite frankly an odd choice to be licensed here in America. But boy am I glad it was! One Piece is pretty much my favorite series, and I love Fist of the North Star, Jojo’s, etc; this is the perfect mash up that knows how to have fun and has seemingly limitless imagination and potential. I just pray that when April comes around, SOMEBODY simulcasts the upcoming anime!!