When last we left Toriko and friends, at the end of volume 5 (Volumes 1-5 reviewed here), they were still facing off against the very, very deadly GT robots to see who would claim the rare and highly sought after jewel-meat of the regal mammoth. Volume 6 sees this story arc draw to a close and reveals much more about the gourmet cells alluded to in volume 5. The history of these cells and something about the nature of the powers they grant are revealed and the effect is to enrich Toriko’s world. What’s more, learning about the gourmet cells and their unique properties sheds some light on the incredible abilities some characters, including Toriko himself, have displayed up to this point.
Given that Toriko boasted phenomenal strength and resilience from the beginning of the series, there seemed to be little room for him to grow. However, in the true nature of manga and anime, he soon finds himself up against a variety of foes whose abilities outrank his and, as the nature of gourmet cells is revealed, we learn that Toriko’s current abilities are really just the beginning of where these marvellous cells can take him and he begins his own process of growth which will likely take him across the series.
Upon first glance, Volume 7 of the series feels like something of a gap between major plot arcs, concerning Toriko and his companion battle wolf, Terry Cloth who escaped mention in our last review for fear of spoilers. Terry, the orphaned newborn, is already a ferocious fighter but following the regal mammoth arc, refuses to eat most of the food at Toriko’s disposal. Hearing rumours that the foods wild battle wolves would likely eat exists in the Gourmet World, far away from human civilisation, but that one example of a Gourmet World ingredient may have been planted in the wildest parts of the Human World. Toriko takes Terry into the true wilderness, far beyond what they experienced in the biospheres of earlier volumes. In truth, despite what feels like a rather flimsy starting point for the tale, Volume 7 contains some of the best action so far in the series, with wild beasties and terrain eager to kill the pair every step of the way for no reason other than to eat them. In this land, hunting for the food which has almost been dismissed as a food of myth, the BB Corn, Toriko and Terry will encounter not just a preposterously hostile environment, but also their first flesh and blood encounter with one of the Sous Chefs (or vice-head chefs) of Gourmet Corp (or Bishokukai in Japanese). This adversary, Grinpatch, has something of a mosquito motif and attacks mainly through the use of a giant straw which he reveals was actually harvested from the mouth of a Devil Mosquito. Using this, he unleashes a variety of long-range attacks which, coupled with the limitations of their surroundings, push Toriko’s Knife and Fork attacks to their limits. The story lapses just past the end of the volume and is ultimately a satisfying serving of intense Toriko action, also setting the scene quite nicely for the story arc that will take up volumes 8-10 and beyond.
Volume 8 sets the scene for the Century Soup arc which sees Toriko and Komatsu, hired by the mysterious old trillionaire Colonel Mokkoi, along with dozens of other gourmet hunters. Their mission: to venture to the frozen continent aptly named Ice Hell in order to retrieve the unsurpassed soup which appears only once every (you guessed it) one hundred years, when the ice thaws and the stock formed from many frozen, now extinct, ingredients, seeps into reach. Among the various gourmet hunters is Zonge, whom readers should remember as the loud, hairy barbarian from outside the puffer whale cave quite a few volumes back. We’re also treated to a few new characters in the form of Match, a member of the Gourmet Yakuza, organised criminals who nonetheless seem to serve some code of honour and Takimaru, one of the Gourmet Knights, an order of gourmet hunters who shun anything which isn’t found in nature, including medicine, food and technology. While these and many other gourmet hunters are in competition for the life-changing sum of money offered by Colonel Mokkoi, it soon becomes apparent that they’re not the only players in the game for Century Soup. Gourmet Corp has sent along a few Sous Chefs to make a bid for the legendary broth and, much more than Grinpatch, these chefs are fighting to win, in particular, Tommyrod, a beetle-winged powerhouse who takes Grinpatch’s insect theme to a true extreme. Capable of playing host to a great many eggs for giant insects, each with a devastating Capture Level of their own, Tommyrod can bring these eggs forth at will and send them into the world to do his bidding, meaning that Toriko’s brute force is rendered useless by the sheer number of sizeable insectoid foes.
The first five volumes demonstrated that a manga dealing with the pursuit of food in a world obsessed with gourmet can be more than the silly premise suggests. Volumes 6-10 teach that this manga can have as much heart, humour, grit and action as anything else out there.
Toriko Volumes 6-10 and a great deal more are currently available from Viz Media. For more information, check out the Viz Media website, the Shonen Jump Toriko page and of course, stay with us here at Anime Reporter for more anime and manga reviews!
Plot Development: 8
Character Development: 7
World and Mythology: 9
80% – “Top Notch” – Toriko Volumes 6-10 manage to make a trip to find food for a fussy pet and a quest in search of some soup feel like the epic voyages of great legends. Toriko really comes into its own as a title and shows that it can stand head to head with the biggest and baddest of manga titans.