Ryou Machiko lives alone – her parents are overseas and her grandmother she had been living with passed away a year ago. She’s a little lonely, but according to her the worst part is her unimpressive cooking. Try as she might to match the skill of her dear granny’s, Ryou simply can’t get the food to taste as good.
One day her aunt – who usually stops in now and then to check up on her but has lately been too busy – asks her whether another cousin of hers can start staying over at her place weekly. Kirin Morino – incredibly small and childish for her age, wants to attend a cram school in Tokyo in order to get into the art school she wants, and so it is arranged for her to visit the school once a week and stay at Ryou’s place for convenience. Apparently, one reason Kirin wanted to get away from home, on top of the fight she had over art school with her parents – was her growing dislike of her mother’s cooking.
Ryou initially doubts that her own cooking will be any better, but soon discovers that when she makes food for other people rather than just herself, the taste becomes incredible.
Some fun trivia – Koufuku Grafitti is not the only series about girls eating delicious, beautifully drawn food and reacting in weirdly erotic ways, and funnily enough the other big ‘sexy girls sexily eat sexy food’ manga, Shokugeki no Souma, has an anime starting next season. It’ll be interesting to find out which of the two does it better.
When I heard that one of the main draws of Koufuku Grafitti is the whole ‘porn for foodies’ thing with the suggestive way the girls eat the food, I didn’t exactly have high hopes and was bracing myself for a non-stop barrage of girls slowly eating popsicles, bananas and various goopy things. I was instead surprised at how charming this episode was. The food-eating is definitely eroticized, sure – there’s a lot of closeups of sexy lips closing around things- but SHAFT have managed to do it in a way that comes across as less sleazy than you’d expect. It’s also some of the most impressive ‘eating’ animation I’ve seen, and the way Ryou’s eyes sparkle and shine is quite appealing. They’ve put a lot of love into the animation of the girls, but they’ve put just as much love – if not even more so, into the appearance of the food. I haven’t had an anime make me this hungry since I first saw Yakitate!! Japan, but more than that…it actually made me want to cook. To contextualize this, I’m a lousy cook and I rarely do it at all – it takes too much time for an end result that is rarely actually worth eating in my case – but Ryou made it look so damn fun that I was actually excited to try making dinner after I watched the episode. (The food I made was so-so in the end, but that’s still an improvement! Thank you, Koufuku Grafitti! I’m sure you played a role in it not being horrible.) The food in this show really does look good enough to drool over, particularly the Inari Sushi – see the way SHAFT animates the slight crisp of the outside breaking into juiciness as Ryou bites into it!
Aside from the food, there’s a rather sweet story here about a lonely girl gaining a new friend and the adventures she will have with her – obviously these adventures, too, will be food related, but that doesn’t mean the Alice in Wonderland-themed opening to the show isn’t adorable. There’s hints of new characters to be introduced later – the one I’m particularly interested in is a girl who seems to live in the same apartment block and never cooks at all (she’s shown once ordering a pizza with ‘the usual toppings’, and since this girl is thus Basically Me I’d like to see how she gets sucked into the world of cooking.) There’s sure to be plenty of food and cooking trivia along the way, and perhaps we’ll even be able to learn some things from it.
It is, admittedly, pretty corny for Ryou’s cooking to drastically improve if she cooks for someone else. The other thing that irked me a little was Ryou’s lamenting at how she believed her subpar cooking would prevent her from becoming ‘a good wife’…in fact she believes that she would make a terrible wife and that she had prepared herself to be alone forever. It’s an unfortunate little bit of casual sexism in what is otherwise a relatively sweet show so far.
However, if you do consider yourself a foodie and also like looking at some cutely drawn and animated girls, Koufuku Grafitti at least deserves a look. I’d like to watch a little more of it, although at this point I can’t say whether it’s the kind of thing that would grow boring quickly or not, or how tasteful(get it) it’s going to stay with its whole ‘sexy eating’ thing. It’s one of the more unique shows this season, at least.