Well, it seems this show’s focus will be directed less upon the actual food prepared and more on the stories and eventual interactions of the customers, with Aletta and the Owner serving more as background actors to provide exposition when needed. Which is fine by me. This is a sort of concept I’ve actually longed to see in a show for a while, specifically where the story takes place in some sort of bar or restaurant and is less centered around a tight narrative and instead examines the stories of the individual patrons. To be honest, I wanted to write something like this, so I’m a little sad to see it already executed. But at the same time, this show is just proving to be so calm and relaxing that I can’t help but smile thinking about it.
I think I forgot to mention before, but the central restaurant is titled Western Restaurant Nekoya. Apparently doors to the restaurant spring up every seven days in different worlds to lead hungry travelers there for a bite to eat. Considering there are apparently multiple worlds connected (though I’m not positive of that), it seems a little convenient that everyone can speak the same language, despite the Owner always asking his guests if they can read a certain language. I’m hopeful we’ll eventually see a guest who cannot speak the language, but that’s not exactly something a show would want to start off with, so I’ll wait patiently.
This episode is largely divided into two halves, each focusing on a separate customer. The first part follows the aptly named Sarah Gold, a treasure hunter and descendent of another deceased treasure hunter named William, formerly a regular of Nekoya. It just so happens that the day of her visit coincides with William’s favorite dish, Minced Meat Cutlet, being listed as the daily special. Her reaction to the dish serves as a warm reminder of William to the Owner and the other guests of the restaurant. It would have been nice to see more in-depth emotions of the customers as they remember William, considering he was apparently a valued companion. Like the first episode, this second episode still seems unwilling to go the extra mile in formulating a tone to match its content. Its emotional scenes are not quite poignant enough and its comedic scenes not quite hilarious. It’s as if the show itself is rejecting a more immersive viewing experience in favor of one that allows viewers to watch events as bystanders – like any other customer in the restaurant. Time will tell if this relaxing tonal approach will ultimately work in the show’s favor or not. And as for Sarah and William, the show does not seem to be through with them yet, as Sarah reappears for the second segment, focused around Heinrich Seeleman.
Heinrich’s story is told mostly through monologued flashback, where in his rush to warn his countrymen about an impending threat he finds himself stranded and famished in the middle of his journey. Lo and behold, what should appear but a door to Nekoya! Contrary to his sense of urgency, Heinrich accepts the Owner’s invitation to sit and wait on a meal, opting to select a dish that reminds him of his home: fried shrimp. His reaction to his food is the commonly expected one of utter bliss. While the meat of the show (pun intended) comes from the character’s backstories, seeing similar reactions elicited from each every episode risks getting stale pretty quickly. The show lacks the ridiculous visual metaphor punches provided by Shokugeki no Soma to keep spicing reactions up (pun also intended), but it’s possible to make up for that by having the other aspects of the show be undeniably enjoyable, which they certainly are for the time being.
The animation still suffers in certain areas. While the food and backgrounds are all gorgeous, characters still can look plain or off-model in some shots, particular zoomed out ones. It’s a trade-off, definitely, and one that really doesn’t impact much in the grand scheme of things. This show isn’t about being flashy or crisp anyway. It’s about warming the hearts of its viewers while showing off some truly scrumptious-looking yet ordinary delicacies.
With this episode, Nekoya adds two more patrons to its list of regulars, and I’m sure Sarah and Heinrich will both appear in the future. Restaurant to Another World seems to be crafting a web among its patrons and their stories, and I’m excited to see what sorts of pay-offs and intersections are ahead. Even if the show never decides to really overlap its narratives too much, it is still excelling at providing a relaxing and enjoyable viewing experience that helps remind viewers of some of life’s simpler pleasures.
Restaurant to Another World - Episode 2
- Creates an interweaving network among the patrons of Nekoya
- Food visuals are both pretty and appetizing
- Calm and relaxing
- Animation remains inconsistent
- Heinrich so willingly pausing to dine contradicts his urgency
- The shift between halves is somewhat jarring