Restaurant to Another World - Season 2
The days continue, as more and more people discover the wonders of Nekoya and the amazing food you can order there. Aletta and Kuro continue their work there, and their regulars are, as always, awaiting the day of Satur with great anticipation. And every once in a while, they also become the venue for larger events.
I wanted to like this show so much when I started watching the first season. It has an incredibly nice style to its characters , leaning towards a more realistic type, and the way the cast of the show was a nice mixture of young and old people. Sure, it erred on the side of stereotypical caution with how it portrayed elves and dwarves, for instance, but by and large, it had a good head on its shoulders.
Sadly, the anime -- unlike the novel, I would later learn -- started out being incredibly frugal about its worldbuilding. Restaurant to Another World wanted its titular restaurant, Nekoya, to be its focal point, which wouldn't have been so bad if not for the fact that you only really see the restaurant from the inside, except for the few times we get to see the entrance in the human world and the close surrounding area leading to it. In contrast, Restaurant to Another World actually spends a lot of time introducing us to all of Nekoya's otherworldly customers, primarily by what they look like.
Which is not to say there is no character introduction. Aletta was, after all, clearly living a life of abject powerty. As a young woman trying to get by, her situation was clearly sad, but the first season didn't really see fit to tell us why she was being so distrusted. This, I would only later learn from reading the manga, and while I probably shouldn't be surprised that it was about a war demonkind once waged on everyone else, it was still something the anime should have brought up. If anything, the manga made me feel completely justified about the misgivings I had about the first season, because it did a better job of propping up its characters, particularly when it came to Nekoya's first waitress. The manga even amended Red Queen's reasoning for why it would be no issue for Kuro to work at Nekoya despite her chosen element of causing death; by evolving beyond the peril of starvation and sickness through nutrition and medical care -- even the one on the level of said fantasy world -- the various races had simply gotten strong enough to easily survive whatever poisonous miasma she unintentionally exhuded. And which led Kuro, kind as she was, to exile herself on the moon so she wouldn't hurt anyone or anything. The show would also go enough into its many characters that I learned that Lionel -- you know, the lion man gladiator -- is also counted among the demon race... somehow. We also get a return look at Victoria, the half-elf witch who became my second main source of confusion in the first season, mostly because she seemed well enough loved by her family as is, despite the show trying its damnedest to convince me how unwelcome she was in most social circles.
Which brings me back to season 2 of this show. Despite my misgivings about the first season, I still enjoyed it on a certain level, so this season would naturally not be any the worse for wear. Sadly, said misgivings are still going strong for the most part. The second season of Restaurant to Another World is still mostly about the food, and therein lies the reason why each episode here also introduces new characters for most of its episodes, so as not to sound too repetitive when the characters start gushing about it. But this is also when I finally pinned down why the food chats annoyed me as much as they did. In the interest of fairness, I would like to point out that I am by no means a culinary professional, so there is a possibility that the characters in this show does takes based on what one of those might think. But therein lies the rub; everyone has the same style of conversation about their menu selection. It just feels alien when absolutely goddamned everyone describe their meals by the way the ingredients taste and feel individually, and then how they meld together as if we're all in chemistry class. And this even from a group of kids coming in for hamburgers and fries.
Their full food analysis: "The little specks on the surface are a great textural contrast with the soft bread! The marmett (tomato) is both sweet and sour, the oranie (onion) is so sweet, the lelesa (salad) is so crunchy, and the kauri (cucumber) is perfectly pickled! This is delicious! The soft sourness of the white sauce, the yellow sauce, and the sour red sauce work with the gooey melted cheese to bring out the flavor of the meat in the middle."
Children do not speak like this! Not unless they've been specifically trained to, and that isn't even the end of it. It just goes on and on, and I quote:
"Maybe because it was ground so finely before being pressed together to cook, it's so tender, I can bite right through it! As I chew it up, all the savory flavor bursts right out and fills my whole mouth! Even stuck between all the vegetables and cheese, the meat has a powerful enough presence to break through them all!"
People are going to react to food differently based on things like their roles, their upbringing or their age, and they should absolutely, positively not sound like a commercial break while eating. That stuff ate away (no pun intended) at my patience in the first season, and the only really rewarding aspect of it making a return here is that I finally realized why it was bothering me as much as it did. Come to think of it, the way most of the characters describe their meals make it sound like they've been eating nothing but raw materials all their lives, and that cooking is a completely alien concept to them. Granted, a lot of that has to do with the fact that the chef of Nekoya of course has the advantage of modern technology that everyone from the other world doesn't, and that should certainly factor in, but it still doesn't completely excuse the bizarre, almost preprogrammed way everyone reacts to the food they eat. If this never bothered you in the first season, feel free to think that I'm overreacting and know that I am honestly a little envious of you, but holy crap, that stuff bothered me in season 1 and it is not making it easier for me to enjoy this one either.
I have to hand it to the second season, though; I appreciated the episode where our new demon lord, Queen Lastina, kept worrying about her lack of "demonic blessings" (I.E. battle strength).... while putting every effort into bettering the lives of her people. It would have helped if the first season had filled us in on Aletta's -- and by that extent, the demon race's -- situation, because thanks to the efforts of the manga, her half-episode story arc gained more weight to it when you know which kind of past she has to deal with when leading her people. I don't think Restaurant to Another World necessarily needs exhausting character trait portrayals, but it would be nice to get a bit more info on these people other than their thoughts on their favorite foods. For instance, in this season, Fardania finds herself with an apprentice. Alice is a full-blooded elf who's born from two half-elves, adding to the complete confusion about elven ancestry that the first season started that makes no sense biologically. And on that subject; Victoria, our half-elven member of royality makes a return here. Where the first season showed her getting along with her family just fine, the second season plays her portrayed separation from her family a good deal more straight. Her "secret lab" (as it is) is invaded by her sibling's children, who had heard tales of the witch with the warning to never go there, and certainly not start rifling through her belongings with all the childish curiosity they could muster. The two are -- in the middle of invading her property and eating her pudding -- quite surprised to find that the witch is none other than their aunt, and with that revelation and a quick stop at Nekoya, the two decide that they would never ever be estranged by their aunt ever again. It's about as by-the-book of antiracism tale as it could be, and would have made a lot more sense if not for the fact that the first season clearly showed Victoria being included in the family gatherings. Also, please don't interpret any of this as me being mad at the kids; they're sweet kids, really. Their position is just that they've probably never been left wanting in their entire somewhat sheltered lives, so the curiosity of things outside of their bubble is probably all they have to assert some kind of independence as kids are wont to.
On the other hand, while the animation work has been given to a different studio, the show looks as nice as ever. Much like the first season, this isn't a very "animated" work. All the little stories that make up Restaurant to Another World is handled with the same kind of quiet care that suits those moments when you sit down to enjoy a good meal. And as much as the dialogue during the meals annoy me, the food items themselves still look incredibly apetizing. The character designs are also still quite well made and diverse, giving you little problem telling all the characters apart despite most of them being humanoid in shape. Given the show's odd tendencies with elf biology, I hope I can be excused for thinking the show's two resident halflings were children rather than the hobbit expies they are. And, of course, it's nice to see our show regulars as well. Aletta is still being her lovable self, and Kuro is still being... well, Kuro. There is no shortage of new characters in Restaurant to Another World season 2, and it's a boon to the show that it manages to let them have their screentime without leaving the oldtimers out.
Which leaves me with the question: "How do I even rate this?" The first reason was a three-star; a balance of nice scenery, somewhat relatable characters, but little in the way of plot progression and the aforementioned dry-ass food descriptions that melds together perfectly with the way everyone talks like very excited Borgs between mouthfuls. And that's much less fun than it sounds. Hence: Three. The second season does step up the worldbuilding a bit, and there are some honestly adorable moments in here, like the event happening in the last episode.... that almost got ruined by a terrible attempt at humor. Season 2 is a bit more of everything, really, so I guess that settles that.
This show is more of the same. Which I shoulda seen coming, given that all the characters in this show love to eat the same thing over and over and over again. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: RPG violence abounds, and there might be some very light fanservice as well, but by and large, this is a pretty safe show. My inner twelve year old had a bit of a giggle over the aforementioned halfling whose name was "Pikke".
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Restaurant to Another World - Season 2 © 2021 OLM
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