Sore wa Tabemono Desu Ka? The Uncanny, Amazing, Astonishing Evolution of Anime Food – Intro

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Welcome back.

Aside from our normal coverage of ongoing and, yes, previously-aired anime, from time-to-time we the authors shall explore topics anime-related and indulge in musings of a rather more whimsical, frivolous nature. Thus I would like to introduce a new Omoshirosou(!) Exclusive miniseries, found only here at Omoshirosou(!), coming soon. To elaborate on the nature of this topic and avoid any confusion, this miniseries will cover the evolution of the way food appears on-screen in the course of an anime episode. Specifically, I’m referring to finished meals and prepared foodstuffs. Thus raw, unprocessed food such as actual animals and livestock raised for the purpose of human consumption are excluded by default.

Also I must emphasize that bastard kitchen projects will not be covered in this miniseries. (By “bastard” I mean failed cooking attempts so vile their mere existence heralds certain death/disaster and thus must of necessity be banished to the outer reaches of the universe. If the resulting product happens to be sentient immediate disposal is all the more imperative.) This is an overview of the advancement of animation quality through the years as gauged by the appeal of what a given character happens to be eating rather than an examination of the “Can’t Cook to Save Their Life” trope that has become an all but hackneyed staple of mainstream high-school life/harem anime. One may indeed derive a certain perverse amusement mocking the sad efforts of otherwise harmless characters oblivious to the pain they visit upon others through their cooking. However that is not the objective here.

Himari-chan's homemade-cooking

The way food is presented in anime has come a long way, and while today most likely even the humble bento will more than satisfactorily dazzle the eye such was not always the case. Even in modern anime, the range of overall appeal and presentation quality varies considerably. Taking artistic style into account, for practical purposes of this discussion a “transparent” nonfactor, they generally fall into three categories or levels of appeal: nondescript objects that cannot be positively identified without further extensive empirical analysis; objects that bear a passable resemblance to their real-life counterparts; and gastronomical wonders of creation that surpass even the real thing -food so perfect, so beautiful, the mere thought of committing an act as vulgar as destroying it to satiate one’s filthy, undeserving palate is all but sacrilege.

I shall examine numerous examples of different food types, from simple snacks/appetizers to full meals and desserts. Western and Japanese-style cooking will have primary consideration with other types of Asian and other cuisine featuring occasionally. Examples from earlier anime titles will begin my discussion and from there I shall progress through the decades to anime of the present. The first installment is forthcoming, with subsequent chapters available as they are released. Stay tuned.

*Disclaimer: This miniseries may stimulate your desire for bodily nourishment, so please take care to prepare something to have at your convenience before reading.

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