To start with, I should say that I have mixed feelings about the manga Toriko. It seems that the author, Shimabukuro Mitsutoshi, just wanted to make a profit out of the series and shoot to fame, rather than to make something new and unique.

The illustration from Toriko

The illustration from Toriko

On the one hand, Toriko is an old-school shonen manga and, as usual, the characters have to level-up for the sake of something, fight against enemies, etc. It should contain a message for young people that they will grow up and become as strong as their favorite heroes. It’s the same thing from title to title.

On the other hand, the author could have added zest to the story. While reading it, I noticed several examples of plagiarism. There are ideas and twists I’ve already seen in other popular and obscure titles. For example: Toriko himself and his fighting style resemble ones of Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star and the idea of brawny cooks beating each other with kitchen utensils reminds me of Boichi’s Space Chef Caesar.

Well, I’ve shared my general impression. Now, let’s run through the plot.

The plot of Toriko in brief

Toriko is one of the most skilled Gourmet Hunters in the world. He seeks for rare ingredients and animals to achieve his dream to find the most valuable foods and create an ultimate dinner course. Toriko is accompanied by a shy chef, Komatsu, who wants to improve his culinary skills and follows him to find rare ingredients. But there is an organization that intends to take control of the world’s entire food supply…

Now, it’s time for pluses and minuses. Shall we?

The pluses of Toriko

Don’t be surprised! There are some positive moments. Take a look.

1. Atmosphere

What differs the manga Toriko from other works is the atmosphere filled with food. Perhaps, Mitsutoshi meant it to be the “ingredient” that makes the manga special. The mangaka manages to draw the food so delicious that you almost feel the smell and taste of the dishes on the pictures.

The illustrations will certainly stimulate your appetite:

Drawings featuring food in Toriko

Drawings featuring food in Toriko

Drawings featuring food in Toriko

Drawings featuring food in Toriko

2. Twist

Unexpectedly, there is a third party. I was really surprised to see something like that in this kind of manga. The twist was conveyed pretty well. The interaction between the three parties with different aims made the plot intricate.

3. Action

The fans of Fist of the North Star, you will like Toriko for sure. The level of muscularity there is certainly off-the-chart:

Depiction of muscularity in Toriko

Depiction of muscularity in Toriko

I should say that the fight scenes are of high quality. It’s really interesting to view various abilities and powers (for instance, Midora’s Hungry Space), spectacular battles, and surprising tactics (Cooking Festival Arc is a great example). Of course, all the action is “spiced” with overbearing opponents, blood, and literally tearing enemies to pieces.

Besides, the massiveness of some struggles strikes you dumb:

Toriko fighting

Toriko fighting

You are looking at this and thinking: “Err… What about the ordinary people living there or another fights happening at the same time?”

4. Humor

As for humor, it’s there and it’s quite good. Additionally, there are some allusions to other titles. It’s not the level of Gintama, of course, but still amusing.

The minuses of Toriko

Now, it’s time for a long list of minuses…

1. Logic and balance

In my opinion, the biggest minus is that the author couldn’t constitute a solid backbone of his work. It’s not clear what are the laws and rules in the world of Toriko. It seems like power levels increase at random.

To explain, I’ll give several examples:

  • At the beginning of the story, we see the protagonists as the strongest characters. And I understand that their opponents and beasts should measure up this level. But suddenly, we find out that they are just unfleshed novices (real novices, not like in The Seven Deadly Sins) who have to learn a lot of things in terms of power acquisition.
  • Then, some Biotope 0 comes out of the blue. So, I think that the members of Biotope 0 are the strongest ones. Nothing of the sort! They are highly valued only in the “weak world” and there is the “strong world” where all the members turn out to be novices as well. And there is more! Then, we see the toughest guys… Oh, wait. They are not that tough, actually. There is no end of it.
  • The leveling-up system drives me crazy. No, that’s not because of random word combinations vaguely connected with food. The thing is the author produces the new levels out of thin air (for example, the second demon and then the third one) as if everybody knows about them but they have never been used. Accordingly, the readers are sort of not informed either. Nonetheless, all of it reminds me of Dragon Ball and may be an allusion to the “old school”.

2. Story

As usual, the bawls like “I will be a pirate king!” and “I will be a hokage!” are standard phrases that are pronounced by a standard protagonist in a standard shonen manga. Yeah, we see that the main character wants to achieve his aim plunging into adventure and saving the countries/friends/homeless animals/etc. That’s OK. But the main idea is to eat in order to… eat. Seriously? And even the main villains just eat in order to eat:

The goal is “TO EAT”

The goal is “TO EAT”

“To eat” is each and everyone’s motivation. They either cook or hunt. Of course, the more the characters eat the more powerful they are. But what’s the point? They get stronger in order to kill the beasts in order to eat them without any global goal.

3. Looks like other titles

As I mentioned above, there is plagiarism in Toriko. For example, the concept of the world reminds me of One Piece and the characters resemble the heroes from Fist of the North Star. Moreover, it seems like the author wanted to surpass “the father of all shonens”, Dragon Ball, with the extent of powers. And he failed at it.

4. Characters

Unfortunately, in the whole series, there were only two characters that caught my fancy. A lot of the personages look interesting and have impressive abilities and powers. As for their personalities and motivation, they are absolutely shallow.

Furthermore, there are many characters that are just pain in the neck, for instance, Komatsu. He is certainly a great “find” if the author set a goal to evoke aversion on purpose.

In addition, there are more than a hundred characters in the manga and all of them have names as if they play a pivotal role in the story. In fact, they are just nothing but a crowd of extras. What is their function? Why did the author produce Biotope 0? Was it necessary to introduce somebody else in the Gourmet Corp., except Midora and Starjun? I don’t understand.

5. Artwork

The artwork in Toriko is a plus and a minus at the same time. On the one hand, the author simply draws brawny personages with different levels of muscularity. Mildly speaking, it’s not very ingenious. But on the other hand, the perfectly fine depiction of the monsters and detailed drawings of fight scenes make it clear that the mangaka masterfully plies the brush and it was his intention to make everybody muscular.

6. Silly humor

There are some pictures that really irritate me. Look at this:

“Funny” illustration from Toriko

“Funny” illustration from Toriko

Is it so funny to draw attention to this part of the body? It’s supposed to be a serious fight, isn’t it?

7. Ending

If I got it right, the series has finished or is about to finish. To sum up, I’d like to add a few words about the message of the manga Toriko.

First of all, let’s throw out everything that doesn’t influence the plot at all. What do we have left? That’s right! We have a “let’s eat” opening, then the plot like “some other mouths, who also want to eat, prevent us from eating, so we’re going to teach them a lesson”, and finally, the climax that levels the interesting twists with betrayals and the interaction between the parties.

The ending of Toriko

The ending of Toriko

Conclusion and Scores

Сriteria Scores
Story 2/10. “We’re looking for something to eat.”
Artwork 7/10. Too much muscularity but on the whole it’s quite good, especially the depiction of food.
Atmosphere 8/10. The atmosphere of the world of food created for the sake of food is well conveyed.
Characters 3/10. Very few characters caught my fancy.
Drama 2/10. There is a little if crying Komatsu counts.
Logic and balance 3/10. Seemed like the author was trying to explain something but then gave up on that.
Action 4/10. “I’ve hit you, now hit me.”
Originality 4/10. If omitting the fact that everybody is looking for something to eat, the concept is clichéd to the max.
Narrative organization 6/10. “We’re getting stronger and looking for something to eat.”
Humor 1/10. It could have been not so silly.
Final score 4/10. It’s almost something.

All in all, tastes differ and it’s my own view on Toriko. You be the judge.

What are your feelings about the message of Toriko? Have you read the titles similar to Toriko? Feel free to share your thoughts with me!