Isekai Shokudo, Shokugeki no Soma, and Rispara: A Three-Course Meal of Food, Character, and Narrative

In my youth, food was always hugely important to my friends and family. Food wasn’t just something you brought to a family reunion or put on the dinner table. It was a way that you connected with one another – a cornerstone of life, physically and socially. Even though I don’t dabble to an intense degree in the cooking arts, it’s because of these early experiences that I’ve always held a vested interest in food and how it connects things and people, and that carried over into my taste in anime. Food holds a solid place in a lot of anime these days (just ask any schoolgirl that’s running late on her first day), but shows that revolve specifically around food aren’t exactly common. That being said, some of the few shows that do focus on food hold a special place in my heart for the fascinating ways that they present food, and for how they give food a central role in their narratives. Here, I’m going to look at just three food-centric shows – Isekai Shokudou, Shokugeki no Soma, and Ristorante Paradiso – and dive into the vastly different ways in which they use food for narrative purposes.

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