I finished the twelve episode season of Samurai Gourmet this week.
First, i should always check on the number of episodes of a show/season because i was adamant in my opinion that Gourmet had a 17 episode season; and second, it is one of the best things i’ve seen this year.
A story about a retired company man who hallucinates about a samurai, who conveniently teaches him how to deal with whatever obstacle arises in the episode sounds boring. But insert some gorgeous footage of meals being prepared for and afterwards eaten by an adorable japanese gentleman adds the….punch would be much to exaggerated a term to apply to this show. At its core, the presentation of the show illustrates how the freshly retired Takeshi has to adjust with life easing it’s foot off the throttle. This show is not about high stakes storytelling, it is about finding a new groove to dance to in faded pastel colours; which are reversed when the Samurai, Takeshi’s spirit-animal appears. the colour grading changes to more earthier, more saturated tones and the way actor Tetsuji Tamayama portrays the wandering warrior is a delight to watch. Instead of being petrified by worries and the surrounding thoughts, he just lives in the moment. To me it never goes into full absurdity mode; the visions end just before the moment we anticipate the Samurai to turn towards Takeshi to give him a reassuring wink.
Some of the japanese customs could take people out of the show. There is a short sequence in the last episode that made me cringe a bit.
As a person with an eating disorder i feel like a fraud to talk a out the food in the show, but except for the ramen in the second episode, every single meal is a mouth watering sight. The barbecue in episode four is a thing i still dream about.
But in some of the awkward social
situations i must admit that i could have taken Takeshi’s place as a younger, european version of him.
So if you are in need of a show that could be the perfect distillation of the term “comfort food tv” and have the means to watch Netflix, i wholeheartedly recommend Samurai Gourmet to you.