Saturday, July 27, 2002

Cooking Master Boy (Chuuka Ichiban)

Genre: Fantasy / Adventure
Parental Guidance Recommended
Nobuyoshi Ogawa (director). Nippon Animation, Fuji TV.

Not available at this time.
Skysenshi's Description:
19th Century China - A boy named Mao sets out to help the Ju Xia Lou restaurant after the death of his mother Pai. One day, a cook-off challenge has been issued and Mao finds himself face-to-face with Shao An, Pai's understudy, for the position of head cook. For the first time in his life, Mao is faced with a daunting task that requires that presence of his mother. Without her, how could he hope to manage? Thus begins Mao's arduous task developing his own skill and eventually coming out of his mother's shadow.

(52 episodes)

Not to be viewed before dinner. >>> by skysenshi

It has been a year since I have seen Cooking Master Boy on the AXN Asia network, yet the flavor of this genre-bender has never left my taste buds. Let me begin this write-up with a warning: This is not an anime that should be watched with an empty stomach, because there is nothing more torturous to a hungry person than to see sumptuous Chinese delicacies being prepared right on television. Honestly speaking, I would always eat dinner early because I feared I would develop ulcer due to the fact that all my senses would go into hyper mode every time Cooking Master Boy was on.

Don't think that's it's all about food alone, though. Cooking Master Boy has everything that every other anime genre has: action, adventure, humor, tragedy, magic, and even romance. They don't lack ecchi characters either. You think there's no battle between good and evil in a show that's meant to tickle your palate? Well, this particular title defined storytelling and brought it to new heights by throwing in various possibilities that food can offer. See, every dish has a tale. Every taste has a purpose. Some are meant to recover life, some meant to mend broken relationships, and others give value to otherwise meaningless entities.

The main character, Mao, lives to make other people happy with his cooking. Though he starts out as a rather dull, boyish character in the beginning, he grows into his own. He finds his passion and develops them-through food and the people he meets, of course. That he becomes quite a handsome shounen in the second half of the anime is just a plus. Perhaps just another add-on stimuli to a viewer's already swimming senses.

All in all, I'd give two thumbs up for Cooking Master Boy's entertainment value. The only gripe I have with it is just that, for a series with 52 episodes, this one was way too short and way too inconclusive.

[Just an end note: Cooking Master Boy 's Japanese title, Chuka Ichiban, translates to "Chinese Foods No. 1"]

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 8; Story 8; Characters 9; Sounds 9

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