So, after six months, I’ve finally made it to my last anime of 2017 (or at least the last one that FINISHED in 2017, I have a few that didn’t finish until this year). Similar to a few other shows I’ve watched recently, I came across “Restaurant to Another World” by seeing preview clips posted on Facebook (showing that those annoying advertisements sometimes work), and it fascinated me with a concept that was both high-fantasy and slice-of-life at the same time.
“Restaurant to Another World” is the story about Western Restaurant Nekoya, situated somewhere in Tokyo. Monday through Friday, it’s open to its usual customers from Japan. However, every seven days, on the “Day of Satur” (which, fuck me, took me way too long to realize: Saturday) the door to the restaurant appears across various locations in a fantasy realm and is open for its residents to enter. This realm is home to various types of creatures standard to the fantasy genre: humans, elves, dwarves, dragons, demons, mermaids, beastmen, etc. Each episode is divided into two halves, with each half focusing on a new person or people who discover a door to the restaurant and the dish that they eat. The main continuous characters are the “Master” (his name is never given), a middle-aged man who owns Western Restaurant Nekoya, and Aletta, a young demon girl who found one of the restaurant’s doors, and began working there as a waitress whenever the door would appear.
Most of stories follow a fairly similar structure: introduction of character, character finds door, character enters restaurant, character questions everything and gets unique dish, character eats dish and has near-orgasmic reaction to it, character leaves and finishes what they were doing before entering the door, character vows to go back. While this repetition may seem like it would get stale, the characters and the situations they are in are unique and interesting, and the enjoyment each character gets out of eating a dish they like can’t help but put a smile on my face. In fact, the way each character is able to articulate how much they like the dish is a major strong point for this series. I’ve never heard so many unique and detailed ways of saying “This food is really good.” It shows the knowledge that the writer of the series has in being able to describe in detail the taste, texture, and smell of each dish.
The fantasy world that connects to the restaurant is also fascinating. With the episodes focusing on characters finding the Nekoya, there isn’t much detail in explaining the world, but each character’s story provides enough backstory that it keeps the world feeling both rich and a mystery at the same time. In another anime, many of the characters that go to the restaurant would be the main character, with their adventures being the main story, but the focus is on the restaurant, a place of relaxation between adventures. Hints are given here and there as to the nature of the restaurant, how the doors started appearing in the other world, and information about the Master, but in the anime, they are left mostly vague.
Based on a light novel series, “Restaurant to Another World” is a great series that puts an interesting twist on the fantasy genre by moving away from the big-adventure/action setting to a more simple one of finding a strange door that leads to a restaurant in modern Japan. The characters are fun and likeable, and just enough information is given about the fantasy world to pique interest about the what stories that are happening outside the restaurant. As of right now, only 12 episodes of the anime have been made, and none of the light novels or manga have been published in English (though Crunchyroll has the manga translations on their site). I would absolutely enjoy more episodes of this show, and I’d recommend it for anyone who just wants a feel-good anime experience about food.