Isekai Izakaya : Japanese Food in Feudal Germany

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  • Genre : Isekai, Slice of Life, Comedy, Short
  • Episodes : 24
  • Studio: Sunrise

 

Do you have a favourite neighbourhood restaurant? A little comfy place that feels more like a friend’s house than a business. A friend that charges you for food but also has the yummiest dishes in the worlds and a lovely assortment of cute girls to serve you. It’s even affordable for regular visits on a lowly guard salary! I’m sure you can picture it. The inviting atmosphere and delicious smells wafting from the kitchen. The laughter of patrons mixing with the passionate explanations of the food the staff and chef are happy to share. The beautiful bottles of Sake lining the bar like soldiers preparing for battle. Of course, you can’t forget about the dimensional wormhole going through the place linking one world to another. You know, the usual!

I have a few anime niches I tend to gravitate towards. Whenever these elements are present, I’m likely to give the show a chance. Stuff like time travel, comedic criminal action, Yokai and, large amounts of food. Anime food has no calories!

Isekai Izakaya ep1-7 (13)

somehow it’s still delicious

I remember seeing Isekai Izakaya pop up a few seasons ago and the title was all I needed to know that I wanted to see this one. Unlike a lot of anime fans, I have no particular feelings about isekais whatsoever. I do however really appreciate a good Izakaya so I was sold. It only took me this long to get to because it’s a two cour show. And this is how you know I go into series blind! Because I knew from the start I would definitely be watching Isekai Izakaya, I avoided reviews and somehow never found out this was a short program. Boy was I stoked!

Of course, shorts do have some biases against them. As far as they go Isekai Izakaya isn’t that short. Each episode runs about 10 minutes and is followed by a 5-minute vignette which alternates between a real-life cook showing us how to make easy versions of the food in the episode at home, and guided tours of real-life Izakayas around Japan.

It’s also a fairly solid production. Designs are simple but they don’t look cheap or lack in detail and work well with the context. There isn’t all that much actual animation but what’s there is smooth. Above all else, the art is wonderfully consistent, something that seems to be a challenge even in considerably more expensive series.

The minimal soundtrack added nicely to the light ambiance. And the voice acting is in fact quite good. It’s not flashy and I didn’t notice it much as I was watching the show but thinking back on it now, every single character was embodied really well. They were fairly simple roles, sure, but no one sounded wooden, overacted or unengaged. In fact, they embodied the roles with a sort of natural charm. Kudos to the casting director, great job all around. I’m not sure why I’m so surprised by this but there you go.

Isekai Izakaya ep1-7 (19)

surprisingly fun is good description

And you know, a “story” like this doesn’t need more as far as production goes. I put story in quotes not because I’m some kind of wiseguy, it really may not be the best term.

Isekai Izakaya is a very episodic slice of life. You can easily skip an episode here and there without losing the thread at all. It has a simple and repetitive story structure. The Izakaya itself bridges two words the back door leading to what is possibly our world (although that’s never really shown or specifically confirmed but there are enough allusions to safely assume), while the storefront gives on what seems to be a feudal Germanic nation with two moons.

Every episode a citizen of the titular other world stumbles in the Izakaya is confused and fascinated by the unfamiliar foods and tableware, the friendly staff explains the dish they cook for them and plows them with beer and the customer leaves completely delighted by the experience. As the series wears on, we start getting to know certain repeat customers but the basic template stays the same.

Isekai Izakaya ep1-7 (12)

some things never get old

And there’s something delightful about it. This simple premise of good food bringing people together. It’s just so easy to watch. But be warned, this show is also likely to make you very hungry and thirsty. Actually prompted me to go buy a bottle of Sake. There’s not much depth to it but the easygoing atmosphere is delightful. I would call it a poor man’s Yatsubori Briori except that sounds a little scathing. I mean it as a compliment!

We don’t get to know much about the characters they don’t feel incomplete. Rather like people we just don’t spend that much time with. Nothing much happens but the recipes are interesting (although super salty!) and whenever we get a bit of backstory it fits well with the rest of the series and is set up properly.

The only thing I personally found unfortunate is that this is such a rich premise that I would have liked to explore it more thoroughly. For instance, Nobu (the name of the Izakaya) obviously gets its ingredients and supplies from our world. That’s why people marvel at the glasses or the fact they have pepper. But they get paid in Isekai currency. How does the exchange rate work? How are they staying in business at all?

Isekai Izakaya ep20-24 (9)

I may be missing the point

Also, the owner and waitress who opened the place together don’t seem in any way surprised by their unique situation. They are already used to it in the first episode but I would have liked to see them freaking out and getting their bearings. Everyone is a great customer, inviting and optimistic. No one is accusing them of witchcraft and questions about how they manage to keep drinks cold in the summer or other things of the sort that seem marvellous to the Isekai locals, simply get brushed aside and forgotten with no one even attempting an answer.

For the purposes of this particular story, the main narrative beats could have been kept unchanged even without the Isekai aspect, while all the more interesting questions and possibilities created by it aren’t taken advantage of. This is more a general gripe and doesn’t change the fact that Isekai Izakaya is pleasant light entertainment for when you don’t feel like thinking too much about anything.

Basically perfect for me!

Isekai Izakaya ep1-7 (13)

omg!

Favourite character: Nikolaus

What this anime taught me: how to make Karage. And to replace noodles with beans sprouts to lose weight…

The best audience is intelligent, well-educated, and a little drunk   

Suggested drink: alaska from a parallel universe

  • Every time anyone takes a drink – join them!
  • Every time anyone says “whatsontap” – switch t beer
  • Every time anyone almost spent the rest of their life eating something – get a snack
  • Every time anyone blows on their food – take a sip
  • Every time we see the two moons – take a sip
  • Every time anyone says “prosit” – raise your glass
  • Every time anything is a perfect pairing – take a sip
  • Every time anyone is getting married – switch to champagne
  • Every time a recipe calls for salt – drink some water

Isekai Izakaya ep1-7 (10)

If you enjoy pictures of anime food, you may want o go see my Pinterest or Imgur for this one!

 

 

 

 

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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8 Responses

  1. Dawnstorm says:

    Much like Scott, I dropped this show because it aired after Restaurant to Another World. But I think my reasons are a little different. In Japanese food shows, everyone always likes everything, so you get the impression that people don’t have any specific taste. In isekai shows, that troubles me. Why? Because when you sell unknown, foreign food to people, and they all love it with no reservations, and at the same time, you spend little energy in exploring what the people themselves eat, it starts feeling like stealth imperialism. Food propaganda. That’s almost certainly not the intention, but when you make a food-themed isekai show, I want to know what fantasy folks eat, and I don’t want them to be there just so they can be surprised how good the food you’re used to is. That feels a bit self serving.

    For some reason, typing this out reminds me of a scene in the anime Ikoku Meiro no Croiseé, which gave me an epiphany when it comes to the social meaning of food in anime. In this show, a young Japanese girl travels with a Fench retired ironworker to France, offering to help out in the grandson’s shop. Early on there’s a scene, where the owner of the shop declines to use soy sauce. Later that episode, we see the girl eating cheese. She visibly doesn’t like it, but claims it’s delicious. The shop owner says she doesn’t have to force herself, but she insists it’s delicious. He says there’s no point in eating stuff you don’t like. She insists it’s delicious and she’s visibly irritated. Since she’s usually holding herself back the shop owner’s surprised at this, and later says that maybe he should try soy some time, at which she smiles and says “Hai.”

    I think that this little scene (I’ve seen it in 2011) had a profound effect on food shows I’ve seen afterwards. Eating is never only about the food, and when you have a show where you see foreigner after foreigner love your food, but you don’t care about what they eat, that just… stands out unpleasantly. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s bad enough that can’t watch two shows like that in a row. (For what it’s worth, I don’t know if Isekai Isekaya is like that for an extended period, since I dropped it really early on – after one or two episodes.)

    I don’t recommend Restaurant to Another World, but I don’t disrecommend it either. (For what it’s worth, I don’t remember the food in this show, which is strange since I remember the food for other food shows, like Yotsuiro Biyori, Kofuku Graffiti or Food Wars.)

    • Irina says:

      They eat snitzel. I’m telling you, it was Germany! I see your point. I never actually thought about it but it makes sense. I restrict my diet because I’m vegetarian but I actually like pretty much all the foods so it never occured to me that it’s not the norm.

  2. Scott says:

    This aired the season after Restaurant From Another World and I couldn’t get into it because it wasn’t as well constructed for me.

  3. A Library Archivist says:

    I really enjoyed this one too. As a Personal Chef, I was able to apply some of those recipes, or knew of better ways to cook some of the dishes from experience.

  4. Cactus Matt says:

    A very underappreciated series. I would have been happy for this show to keep going indefinitely, it was such a calm and easygoing way to spend 15 minutes each week!

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