True Cooking Master Boy – Anime Preview
Synopsis: During the 19th century China, the protagonist, Liu Maoxing, wins the title of Super Chef and is the youngest to do so in history. His master, Zhou Yu, suggests that he broaden his skills as a chef even more, so he goes on a journey around China with his friends Shirou and Meili. Mao’s mother, Bei, had wished for everyone’s happiness and fought against the Underground Cooking Society. In order to continue his mother’s wishes and protect the Legendary Cooking Utensils from the Underground Cooking Society, Mao and his friends go on a journey… (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: True Cooking Master Boy is an adaptation of the direct sequel to Cooking Master Boy, a 90s manga and anime series that has never graced Western viewer’s screens before. (This series likely exists in part to promote the newest iteration of the manga, which launched just two years ago.) The series proceeds in the vein of older episodic anime, like Black Jack, where our hero ventures to new places each episode, meeting troubled characters of the week, solving their problems for them and then heading on his way to help the next suffering soul. In this instance we follow Mao, a young boy who attained the title of “Super Chef” and now ventures the land looking for cooking challenges to overcome. What’s offered is quiet formulaic, and pretty easy to predict for anyone familiar with this type of set up, but True Cooking Master Boy doesn’t linger too long and develops its formulaic proceedings fast enough to feel like a generally enjoyable twenty-two minute adventure. The cooking segments kind of resemble Shokugeki no Soma, but without the same penchant for over the top, sexual flair. It’s more restrained in that regard, but stumbles when compared to how informative Soma can be.
Linny: In true cooking anime style, the way people react upon tasting Mao’s cooking is still very over the top with lots of loud screams, gasps, non stop praising, exaggerated expressions and of course shoveling the food into their mouth like their lives depend on it. The show seems more focused on showing off the appeal of the main ingredient and how good the food tastes over detailing step by step instructions, additional spices and ingredients, or more minute details when compared to other similar shows, like Soma. The overall aim for Cooking Boy isn’t to showcase incredible food so much, but instead to tell you a sweet and touching tale of personal struggle, combined with Mao’s cooking skills as the method of catharsis. When it comes to the emotional core of the series, it’s best not to think too deeply; not about the cooking and maybe not even the more sentimental parts. For example; in this episode, despite being deep in debt, with little to no income, living all alone with no friends or family, and never understanding her brother’s obsession with the difficult breed of Chicken he raised, the sister, our episode’s damsel in distress, chooses to stay and look after them rather than running and abandoning the clearly failed business. Yes, she has to be in this situation so Mao can save her but a more practically inclined viewer is likely to find themselves questioning the contrived nature of the situation as the show wants you to assume this girl has so much familial love and devotion to her brother that she’d choose to live in poverty and suffering all while questioning her deceased brother’s lack of common sense.
Tom: True Cooking Master Boy isn’t one of the best titles Fall has to offer, but I found it a decently enjoyable watch. How well this holds up will entirely depend upon two things: Will we see an overarching story introduced, or will we stick to the ‘problem of the week’ format? It can work either way, but the series has got to step up the quality of its weekly troubles, because while the first episode works, it’s not exactly a roaring success. Still though, I think what’s here is worth a cautious recommendation.
Linny: True Cooking Master Boy doesn’t feel like the most friendly and approachable show for newcomers to the series however. This first episode is peppered with short, quick flashbacks to moments and people that it assumes you know and understand the context and significance of already. These scenes will often only have a single line of dialogue and feature people you aren’t told the identities of. It barely introduces its ‘main cast’ of Mao and his two traveling companions as it is, not bothering to explain their relation within the first episode, leaving you to infer it solely from the series blurb. The fast pace at which the story unfolds should be fine for those familiar with the original manga and anime but if this is your first foray into the series, you might find it a bit confusing. Thankfully the show’s formula is simple enough for even a newcomer to follow so as long as you can get invested in the episodic drama and food appreciation parts, there’s a chance you will still find this show entertaining enough as while it isn’t the most amazing series this season, you could do a lot worse.
True Cooking Master Boy is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.