- 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!
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.
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.
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?
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!
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