#1 Fantasy character visit our world
The story of this show concerns two worlds, one of which is our, modern-day reality, and the other is a medieval fantasy realm with kingdoms, knights, monsters, demons, and all that good stuff. While entirely unrelated to one another, each saturday doors appear throughout the fantasy world that lead to Nekoya, a Japanese restaurant that specializes in Western cuisine.
Each episode of the show is split into two pieces, each segment telling the story of how one of the characters came to find Nekoya and what foods they like. While the other world isn’t that original, preferring instead to make it a combination of the most familiar fantasy tropes, I found each individual character in it quite fun. You’ll meet with tribal lizardmen, dukes and princesses, ancient heroes, and roguish adventurers, all united by their common love for the Master’s cooking.
#2 Plain, delicious food
A show about cooking and eating lives or dies based on how much it makes you regret watching it an hour before dinner. In other words: does the food look great.
There is certainly a lot of variety, with each patron having a favorite dish, and all of them are presented really well. Juices leak out as characters put their knife to the food, they dip them in delicious-looking sauces, and overall the food just enjoys some of the best animation the show has to offer.
As seems to be common for shows like this, characters will also go into an absurd amount of detail as they eat the food. Everybody seems to turn into an aficionado the moment they take a bite, as they begin to ramble about flavors and textures, and all that. It’s silly, but it does really complete the picture and makes for a lot of hilarity. One particular bit I liked involved two dwarfs getting really excited over the quality of modern-day beer. I will say it’s not as visually creative as Food Wars!, it’s more in line with a show like Gourmet Girl Graffiti where enjoyment of the food is more grounded.
#3 Excellent service, deserves a tip!
Delicious food is always nice, but somebody has to take orders and deliver the meals to the customer. That role is fulfilled by Aletta, a Demon from the fantasy world. Because Demons are discriminated against, Aletta never managed to keep a job and lives in poverty, until she one day finds a door to Nekoya after closing time and ends up eating the Master’s leftovers. Rather than getting mad at her, the Master ends up hiring her and from there her life gradually improves.
Aletta is an interesting addition to the show and makes for a great server. You can’t help but sympathize with somebody that faces this many hardships, yet remains optimistic and kind. It also helps that she is adorable to look at, owing to fantastic character design by freelance artist Katsumi Enami, also known for his character design for Baccano and work on various manga.
Watching Aletta work and her life improve is one of the few overarching story-lines that comes up in multiple episodes. Later on the cast is joined by a third character, the mysterious Kuro, who is another character from the fantasy realm. While she doesn’t get quite the same amount of development as Aletta, her story is really interesting and I hope we’ll get a special or extra episode, because it feels like the show ends just before her arc truly concludes.