Otaku USA Magazine
Toriko vol. 2

The gourmet-hunting adventure of Toriko and his ever-endangered companion Komatsu mines deeper into madness in volume two, and the stakes continue to be raised in true shonen fashion. In fact, this volume is loaded with just enough strongman antics and beasts bursting to the brim to make you pause to wonder just where in the world Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro is going to go with it next.

For now they’re off to capture some Puffer Whales, which don’t look nearly as dangerous as they truly are. Small and kind of cute, their asking price extends into the millions… but only if they remain untainted by their own poison. It takes a delicate touch to keep their poison sacks from ruining the catch, so Toriko and Komatsu travel to the town of Gourmet Fortune to meet up with Coco, a skilled fortune-teller-slash-hunter with a toxic secret of his own.

For every success along the way, another complication presents itself. From the time in Gourmet Fortune known as “Monster O’clock” to the labyrinthine caverns that obscure the path to the Puffer Whales’ spawning point, nothing comes easy, and that’s what makes Toriko so much fun. Just as one moment seems to present an over-the-top obstacle sure to brick wall our heroes into submission, they do something even more ridiculous to overcome it.

As the aforementioned “Monster O’clock” implies, Toriko is an absolute feast for fans of beasts. It’s hard to tell whether Shimabukuro just comes up with everything on the spot or if it’s all meticulously planned out, and I’m not sure I care either way. The charm of the comic is how it effortlessly applies classic shonen tropes to such an outlandish world. The characters are almost caricatures at times, but highly likable nonetheless. You accept the fact that Toriko can seemingly pump his arm muscles up beyond human proportions because, well, Toriko’s just that good! That’s how it is.

Series like this are especially worthy of a second or third volume evaluation for the benefit of those still on the fence. The opening chapters are hard to judge and simply leave at that, because they tend to present so much opportunity without the assurance of a rewarding follow-through. With that in mind, I love the direction this one’s headed; it’s got just the right mix of humor and action for my tastes, and the premise remains suitably delicious. My only concern with Toriko thus far is that it leaves you wanting more and the next volume doesn’t come out over here until December.

Publisher: Viz Media
Story & Art: Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro
© 2008 by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro/SHUEISHA Inc.