Does Restaurant to Another World Critique the Fantasy Genre

Restaurant to Another World is an Animated television show by Junpei Inuzuka. It tells the story of a restaurant in Japan which is open during the week to regular customers. On Saturdays it closes to regular customers and instead accepts customers through a different door from where odd characters from a completely different world appear.

The show is structured in way that focuses on the Saturday patrons. As they discover the doorways that lead to the restaurant, as they enter into our world and as they are kindly invited to enjoy the food prepared by the chef.

Each person who comes is blown away by the food. Be they royalty, adventurers or dragons. The reaction is always amazement at the quality, the perfection of the food and the consistency of it. We hear stories of how they experience a little bit of our world in terms that would cross the cultural barriers between the real and fantastical worlds (i.e. food)

The back stories make it clear how difficult their world is. Despite (or because) of the existence of mystical creatures like dragons, magic and knights with giant swords. There is much suffering in between any epic story line and continued hardship which is softened by, but not extinguished by, visiting this restaurant once a week.

This, I think, serves to highlight just how ridiculously blessed we are in the modern world to be surrounded by such riches. That we’ve become numb to our good fortune. That our tv and films provide us escape into fantastical worlds that would actually be more dangerous, more difficult to survive and less fun. But we desire to experience these worlds without being able to see just what we’d give up.

The survival horror genre is much like that too. If everyone died, and I survived, what a world I could build by starting from scratch. It’s tempting. And rarely do shows like this focus on the cornetto of truth, that we have such wealth already.

The gratitude of customers from the other world, the way they treat the door as a treasure or sacred, directly informs us about how we could readjust our world view to look upon the simple pleasures of food and the security and safety within which most of us live. We could be happier with what we have.

It’s a quiet animation overall, which only touches lightly upon the epic of the other world. An epic which would be the central concern of any other shows is thrust to the backdrop to hang over the patrons like a cloak, but never detracts from them coming in, ordering amazing food and enjoying the break from that epic.

The chef, for him, he likes making food and likes making people happy. There’s no malice or unfolding narrative for him other than a life well lived through meeting people, making them happy by making them food and maybe trying a foreign flavour every now and then.

Anyway, what do you think? Is this quiet show an answer to big loud epics or is it something else? Comment bellow.

One thought on “Does Restaurant to Another World Critique the Fantasy Genre

  1. I think that providing an escape is something that our species has always sought. I don’t think anyone who watches zombie movies are particularly keen on trading their current situation for the protagonist life of extreme danger and suffering for example. The reason we like the protagonist is attributes in the character: bravery, selflessness, empathy, and perhaps an adventurous spirit which we ourselves lack in daily life. I’ve watched many films and thought about how good we have it, and how it could be lost. I think fantasy films are just as important for that as they are as an escape from the mundane. Rick and Morty is a great example: You may envy Rick’s intelligence, and the ability to go anywhere and do anything, but no one envies the character that Rick is. He’s the ultimate good guy and bad guy, and it makes you question your own ideals about good and bad by showing the sheer devastation Rick causes in nearly every episode. It’s also hard to lump all fantasy genre into one tidy pigeon hole. Different movies have different messages, morals and situations. The Black Mirror series is hard for me to watch because you can see how easily all that benefits us could turn to dystopian instruments of oppression. It’s too real to be an escape, because it drops those big questions right in your lap in your current context, and you feel like you are at the turning point of something terrible. So there is plenty of wake-up value in the sci-fi fantasy genre as well.

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