Well, well, well, who can forget the ending to volume 10 of Toriko? When we left him, he was still facing off against Tommyrod and minus one of his arms! What’s more, Tommyrod has yet to unveil his most terrifying and ravenous insect. Toriko hasn’t been this badly wounded in a fight so far and things are only becoming more dangerous. Ice Hell is starting to feel the strain of the high-powered battles taking place and so the clock starts ticking, not just in terms of century soup or the battles to claim it, but also to escape before being buried under a mountain of ice. The Century Soup arc comes to a stunning end with Toriko and his new comrades very much licking their wounds. But there is hope.
(As you can tell from the manga covers) Toriko has a chance to regrow his missing arm with a procedure which poses great risk to his life, can take up to twenty years and still may not work. While Toriko recuperates, Komatsu takes it upon himself to hone his cooking skills to an entirely new level and it’s refreshing to see him getting some focus as a skilled member of the duo and breaking away from his standard role so far of watching Toriko in awe. It’s also pretty interesting to see a shonen character really growing in a way that doesn’t directly feed into doing more damage to enemies. As Komatsu’s skill as a chef grows, he also finds that he has a knack for understanding the nature of ingredients and that his talent may lie in tracking down and harvesting food as much as in cooking it.
Once Toriko’s healing and Komatsu’s training are done, it’s back to business as usual. Volume 12 starts off with Toriko returning home, only to find that his edible house has entirely vanished and so begins a short and light arc about Toriko gathering the necessary candy ingredients to build a nice new house for himself. This arc is harmless enough and really serves as a palette cleanser between two heavier storylines.
After completing work on his house, Toriko visits his old mentor, the president of the IGO and adopted father to the Four Heavenly Kings, Ichiryuu. Ichiryuu tasks Toriko with a near impossible task to test if he is ready to enter the Gourmet World. He must retrieve the Ozone Herb from high in the Vegetable Sky, an island rooted in the clouds which produces the most wonderful vegetables the world knows of. An arc full of danger and a couple of game-changing surprises, it also tests and demonstrates the strength of Toriko’s and Komatsu’s partnership, forcing them to work in sync and truly calling for Komatsu’s subtlety as much as Toriko’s brawn. This story arc continues well into Volume 13 and turns out to be just the first of many trials Ichiryuu has planned for Toriko.
We get to see Toriko take his first steps into the Gourmet World, where he meets a vaguely familiar face and learns what he’ll need to do in order to not only survive, but surpass the dangers of the Gourmet World. On top of some unparalleled danger from flora and fauna, the weather, terrain and even the gravity are wildly unpredictable and Toriko will have to teach his body to adapt to it all if he can hope to survive. This is where Ichiryuu’s list comes in, sending Toriko around the human in world in search of ingredients to test the limitations of his body. These story arcs see Toriko challenged in new ways by his surroundings and give battles a taste of variety by changing up the different aspects of his environment that Toriko has to overcome. The Melk Stardust arc sees both Toriko and Komatsu growing in power and continues throughout Volume 14.
Volume 15 is the big one! If you’ve been reading all along then you’ve seen his name being mentioned, you’ve noticed the fear on character’s faces when they think of him and now, at last, we get to meet… Zebra.
Admittedly, it’s not the most awe-inspiring name in English, but this guy is brutal. The member of the Four Heavenly Kings that frightens them all, the one so dangerous he had to be locked away in one of the three greatest gourmet prisons of the world and Toriko’s about to enlist his help. After the simple matter of breaking him out, of course.
The following is a bit of a description of Zebra’s abilities and character, so be warned, if you’d rather find out for yourself (and that is worth doing), then you can skip over the next paragraph.
Zebra boasts abilities based on sound, enabling him to hear with great accuracy and even to project sound at various frequencies with fantastic accuracy. This can mean something akin to a dog whistle to attract animals or it can mean turning his mouth into a sonic bazooka, devastating anything in its path. What makes him truly intimidating is his personality, his viciousness towards anything he doesn’t like. What he doesn’t like can be summed up fairly neatly: “There’s nothing I hate more than people who’re cocky.” The world trembles in fear at his rage but to Toriko he’s just his grumpy older brother and they set off across scorching desert sands to the Gourmet Pyramid in search of the Mellow Cola.
Volumes 11-15 are great examples of change across the series, with a great amount of emphasis on characters struggling and growing. It’s easy to see that Toriko is influenced by what has come before, with high gravity training in particular feeling like a nod to Dragon Ball Z’s Son Goku and the prospect of the Gourmet World coming across as something of an echo of One Piece’s Grand Line. That said, the series maintains its own voice and characters, remaining very much its own tale.
The action is revved up to exciting new heights that should keep readers hungry for volume 16!
Toriko volumes 11-15 and then some are available now from Viz Media!
84%- “Heating Up”
Toriko Volumes 11-15 bring the tale to new heights and promise more, more, more on the horizon. Read this series!