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Food Network Anime Challenge

October 17, 2009

What office do I go to turn turn in my “man card?” After watching and liking these episodes, I think the law requires my card’s immediate surrender.

The actual show is standard kiddie-grade shoujo stuff. The main girl, Ichigo, is a normal, talentless, clumsy kid. This being an anime aimed at little girls, she’ll obviously realize that she does have a skill that makes her stand out, and that skill is creating pastries.

But I have a feeling we’ll be seeing many pratfalls and catastrophes, even after she discovers her knack for sweets. Wouldn’t be a shoujo fish-out-of-water without them.

My main concern coming into this series was the whole “sweets fairy” shtick. Knowing how these sorts of series can be, I was afraid that they would circumvent real cooking and real lessons learned by giving Ichigo a magical crutch. Kind of like how Naruto has his fox demon and how Goku is a Kryptonian, I was worried that the fairies would do all of the heavy lifting/cooking while Ichigo gawked at their awesome wand-waving-non-cooking powers. Thankfully this isn’t the case.

Yes, a magical sweets fairy, named Vanilla, does appear. Yes, she was summoned by Ichigo’s wishes/prayers/pagan candy offerings. Yes, she will help Ichigo overcome her Akane-level cooking skills. But she isn’t going to wave her magical tea spoon and grant Ichigo Super Saiyan Level Emeril pastry skills. She’s going to do what all great mascot/sidekick/animal characters do:

Much like Kero-chan from Cardcaptor Sakura and other similar characters, Vanilla’s going to boss around Ichigo while standing back and hurling insults. The only magic she’s going to perform is claiming credit for Ichigo’s work ethic and sending “proof” of her “aid” to the Queen of All Fairies or whatever her name is so she can pass her fairy training. You may be no Ioryogi, Vanilla, but you’re already a worthy addition to the useless, manipulative mascot pantheon. Welcome!

So far I’m liking the series’ sense of humor. When Ichigo’s sister is having a bad case of the chokes during a piano recital, Ichigo belts out a very loud and obnoxious “you go girl” like cheer. Far too often in anime you’ll see a character quietly think to themselves and give oh-so polite encouragement monologues, as if they’re trying to send telepathic waves to bolster their friends. Only in, say, a fighting anime will you see a character get up and shout out words of encouragement like this. I gotta say, I got a kick out of seeing a “You can do it, Goku” like shout in the middle of a youth concert.

The first episode had another great scene, this one involving involving Ichigo’s mother. Ichigo is running about, acting like your typical hyper shoujo girl, gawking over the assortment of cakes at a pastry exhibition. While Ichigo is beaming with joy over all the sweets she has on her plates (yeah, multiples), her mother does her best to ignore her daughter, telling her other daughter to “pretend we don’t know her.” So cold and so amusing.

Yeah, lady, I’d also be ashamed to know my genes produced that many sparkles. It’s kind of like knowing you gave birth to a Twilight vampire.

There hasn’t been too much “real” cooking so far in these episodes. There was a bit about making mille crepes, but there’s only so much you can say about crepes, so I won’t fault the anime for not getting into that. They do a good job of showing that it takes only a small amount of batter to make a crepe, and how you must have smooth movements when spreading out the batter in the pan to make the crepe thin and uniform. But they’ve shown their pastry chops in other ways, mainly through some of the designs.

I liked how they gave the roses a candy-like sheen, to let you know that they were crafted out of sugar before the character ever told you so. It might go over the heads of the kids watching this stuff, but someone like me that’s seen enough Food Network will catch that right off the bat.

Pretty good representation of the sort of chocolate sculpture you’d see the pros make. Yeah, these kids totally need to go on Food Network Challenge or something like that. St. Marie Academy vs Charm City Cakes! Allez Cuisine!


They apparently got a real life pastry chef to act as a consultant for the show so that the pastries would be authentic. Don’t know if it was this guy, or if he was someone they only got for these end-of-episode spots, but either way this guy rocks. According to the second episode, we’ll be seeing more from his kitchen, along with some of his assistants. I’m down with seeing the real deal. Wish we’d get more segments like these. Like, real martial arts crap at the end of Naruto episodes or real conspiracy theorists at the end of Eden of the East episodes.

Dear Anime Industry,

Give us more live action equivalent scenes at the end of your shows.

Yours Truly

Landon

P.S.

If not, you get the golf club.

P.S.S

We want more anime characters dancing the Batusi, like Vanilla does in the closing animation. The Hare Hare Yukai is good and all, and Carameldansen was cute for about two minutes, but we want more Batusi. Please?

EDIT: Can’t believe I forgot to mention the single best line so far in the series. It didn’t dawn on me until the guys over at Moe Sucks mentioned it in passing. I’m sure the line was said in innocence and all, but the imagery it conjures is pretty awesome.

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