Monday, May 29, 2017

ANIME: Don't watch "Piacevole" (while you're hungry)

Honestly, short-form anime is God's gift to anime industry people. Ever since I started working in the anime industry, I actually have less time to watch things (unless they're specifically things I'm being paid to review). So when I come across a snack-sized show, I make sure to marathon it ASAP simply so that I can have the pleasure of, you know, finishing a show sometime before I'm 40.

Piacevole: My Italian Cooking came through the Crunchyroll newsroom and eventually ended up on our streaming site. It's based on the manga of the same name by Atsuko Watanabe, a prolific character designer (Tokyo Ravens, Ebiten, Nana to Kaoru and more) and key animator (Strike Witches, Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector, Hell Girl: Two Mirrors and more).

Our hero, Morina, is a high school girl looking for a part-time job. She happens upon Trattoria Festa, an Italian restaurant not too far from her, and assumes she'll get a simple job. But the employees are far more intense about and dedicated to the art of Italian cooking... and she learns that she'd better get with the game or else.

Mallow, the manager's young son, is the de facto manager while his father his away. He's just a schoolkid, but he's a top-tier chef with a passion for cooking. He also seems to have something of a passion for Morina as the show goes on, developing a schoolboy crush on his slightly older employee.

The chef Kirihide is equally serious about his work... actually, potentially more so. His entire demeanor can be destroyed by a lack of a certain ingredient or the mistreatment of semolina flour. The flirty Ei is the dessert chef, and seems to be self-centered and irresponsible (until we get his character development beat). In the wings, pint-sized food critic Sara makes occasional visits to help Morina improve at her craft. And the busty, cranky Ruri somehow oversees the whole mess.

If you're looking for a show with A+ pacing and story, this is probably not what you're looking for. These are bite-sized episodes, more about character gags than plot progression. Not that that's a bad thing -- for a rainy afternoon when you just want something cute, fun, and benign, this is perfect. It's also one of the few anime in recent seasons that doesn't fall back on lewd jokes (the nearest we really get to this is Morina and Sara pulling a Lady and the Tramp as Mallow gets insanely jealous, and Morina's first reaction to Ruri's... uh... tracts of land). Finding something silly, sweet, and inoffensive enough that I'd watch it with my friends' kids or my older relatives is rare.

But please, for the love of God, don't watch this if you're hungry.

Just as Yakitate!! Japan could make you die for love of bread, Piacevole takes extra time to really make the dishes stand out. Each episode's ending is a rapid-fire "recipe" for the title dish of the episode, and while it's not exact enough for you to hop over to the kitchen and get cooking, it's certainly enough to make your mouth water.

Now imagine marathoning this adorable, appetizing monster of a show while eating a grocery store salad and waiting to go out for a big dinner with your friend. It's an absolute misery. So please, treat it like going shopping on an empty stomach and... like... don't. Better yet, grab some Italian takeout beforehand and eat it while you're watching. That might actually be the safest bet.

Yeah. That's what I should've done.

Piacevole: My Italian Cooking is available to watch on Crunchyroll. And if you want more after the series ends, premium manga subscribers can read the original manga.
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