They say that cooking is an art. Taste won’t matter much if it doesn’t look appetizing, and presentation combines all the ingredients in a masterful way that only the cook can conjure. But for the girls in this series, cooking is more than just an art. It is an expression of love for friends and family. And when it comes time to be with loved ones, nothing seems more satisfying than sharing those moments over a good meal.
But not to worry. This is also a comedy series! And just as I can’t forget the delicious eye candy (and I mean the food, damn pervs) that whets my appetite every time I watch this series, I also can’t forget that these girls do silly things just to get through life. In fact, it is the combination of mild humor and turning meals into works of art that makes this series, to me, a masterpiece.
Gourmet Girl Graffiti (Koufuku Graffiti) is about the daily adventures of Ryou Machiko and her second cousin Kirin Morino, as they enjoy each other’s company every weekend. And how else can these girls bond than over a lot of food? Ryou spends the entire week at her art-oriented middle school, but the highlight of her week is always sharing meals with Kirin. And over time, the girls are joined by their friends and family, including Ryou’s affluent classmate Shiina and her family, Aunt Akira, or Yuki from the apartment downstairs.
But let’s get into the visuals, because as of right now, I’m hungry. The series admits that artistic visuals and media like anime tend to make food more enticing than it actually is, but can you really fault them for that? It’s amazing!
One thing this show dares to do is give us very close perspectives on all the food. Occasionally we don’t even see faces or even the girls at all, especially when they are cooking or eating. These angles may give you the idea that you yourself are eating whatever it is the girls are making, or eating for that matter! And in case you were wondering what “sexy eating” is to them, zoom in on any of these girls’ lips, and you might see chunks of meat or rice being digested as they eat!
But don’t worry. This is anime, so it looks more enticing than it actually looks in real life. And believe me, I’ve found myself wanting the food in this show after every bite.
Food is the star of the show, but food is not to be treated as entities in and of themselves, as they are the products of their makers. Ryou may be an art student, but her first passion is cooking, and her second is eating with those she loves. Such are the feelings she expresses onto canvass.
But Gourmet Girl Graffiti is more than just about cooking. It is also about how cooking brings friends and family together. Ryou recently lost her grandmother, and her parents are always working overseas. She may seem well off financially, but deep down, things get lonely for her. Every time Grandma comes up, I find myself shedding a tear, feeling empathetic for how Ryou must feel without anyone else around.
But whenever she’s with Kirin or any of her friends, that mood changes. And every episode of this series has been joyous for that reason.
Ryou may be the central protagonist, but she’s not the only one creating works of art, be it paintings or food. What’s most important to our meals is sharing food with those you love, and last I checked, love is not one-sided! Just as Ryou loves cooking for Kirin, Kirin also tries to cook things for Ryou too. It is through these kinds of relationships that showed that cooking is a very personal activity as it is a work of art.
One thing I find unique about this series is that it isn’t really about the cooking. It’s about making those relationships that matter to us meaningful; cooking just happens to be the medium.
Culinary arts are quite competitive, and making the best dishes can make or break some of the best chefs out there. But for the rest of us who can’t make masterpieces every time we cook something, the key ingredient to food is Love, and knowing that we are sharing that meal with our loved ones fills us with more than just the nutrients of that dish. Like I said, cooking isn’t just an art; it’s an expression of love.
The food may not always be appetizing. It may just be something simple like a packet of instant ramen. But with a comfortable atmosphere, surrounded by those who matter most to you, any meal can be a fine feast. And if Ryou keeps that in mind, she will never be alone.
The series is situational, so skipping an episode here and there or watching it from time to time doesn’t matter. But there is still one thing I should mention before wrapping up: the post-credit sequence to every episode.
An a capella chorus. A small conversation between Ryou, Kirin, and their friends. The girls in their chibi forms, doing something silly. And a work of food art made by the original creator, Makoto Kawai, herself. Can you ask for a better medley of a preview for the next episode, than to remind us that this show is about food and the wonderful people Ryou and Kirin meet? I may not have eaten anything, but that satisfies me.
So if you like cooking and know that it is more than just a way to satisfy hunger, watch Gourmet Girl Graffiti. Now, I have to go fix me some lunch!