Ryo Machiko enjoys cooking, but after the death of her grandmother and a year of living on her own, nothing she makes seems to taste right. Without someone to cook for or even eat with, her cooking ability seems to have suffered. But things begin to change however when Ryo’s cousin Kirin begins attending the same Sunday cram school as her, needing a place to stay for the weekends before catching the train back home. After a slew of home cooked meals and food related adventures, Ryo, Kirin, and Ryo’s friend Shiina begin to understand the value of a meal shared and that the best food is that which is made in company.
At its simplest, Gourmet Girl Graffiti is a slice of life anime about school girls that really like cooking and eating food. That being said, I must also address the elephant in the room that is the ‘sexual innuendo’ rating on the DVD cover. Every now and again while the girls are eating, the animation will get a boost in quality for a moment while they eat some food in a sexual manner. But, if you can excuse the fact that it is young middle school girls being framed in this sexual manner (and this isn’t something that should be excused), it’s mostly tame sans the bathtub and ice cream scene including Ryo and Kirin. Honestly, the only saving grace of these moments is that these scenes are few and far between and sometimes the show becomes self-aware and other characters comment on the weird way that the girls are eating.
Even worse is that the show has no personality outside of erotic food consumption. Ryo, Kirin, and Shiina’s motivations beyond food-related activities are cookie cutter at best and downright boring at worst. The girls all experience school related anxieties, but that takes a backseat to cooking and the overall nothingness of the plot, which is simply the continuous affirmation of the positives of cooking and eating with friends. Perhaps good characters would have made this bearable, but in this case they exacerbate this nothingness by being equally boring. Ryo is your typical quiet and non-impressionable main character, while Kirin’s laziness makes her unlikable from the beginning. There’s even a character who is referenced throughout the whole series who lives in the same apartment complex as Ryo, but her story never seems to pay off properly even when she gets an episode that focuses on her. Shiina and her family were the most interesting characters to me, but they didn’t feature in enough episodes to leave a lasting impact. Honestly, my favourite thing the characters ever did was perform a cute little dance in front of images of delicious foods after the credits of each episode.
Overall, Gourmet Girl Graffiti is boring with little substance. There seems to be no goal for the series overall, and while there are themes of sharing food and being with people you love and school related anxieties, it never feels like the show is cohesive or ties anything together. There was an episode where the girls cooked an egg and rice dish together because it was a meal that they had seen in a movie. I wish there had been a goal like that throughout the show to tie everything together, something like the girls attempting to remake recipes that interested them from movies or books. I feel like a specific goal revolving around food would have tied the series together more and made it stronger.
Regardless of whether this is your thing, Gourmet Girl Graffiti simply couldn’t hold my interest. The people I was watching it with clocked out at around the halfway mark of the twelve episode series, opting to play the new release of Pokémon instead of investing their full attention into the show. Without my 3DS (and due to reviewer integrity I suppose) I was forced to give the show my full attention. But the boredom I experienced continuously compounded until even the smallest things began to grate on me, and the biggest positive I can grant the show is that there weren’t as many erotic eating scenes as I expected. Which, as far as positives go, doesn’t really count for much.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.