There are legends of a strange door that appears all over the world on the day of Satur known as “Western Restaurant Nekoya”. Within the door lies an establishment that takes in gold and silver coins in exchange for food not seen or known to others. Marvels like curry, parfaits, and natto that people have never seen before. It is a gift, a strange magical occurrence wrought about by fate. At least that’s how I expect someone from the ‘other world’ to explain whatever’s happening.
With the plot point of an oak door inexplicably showing up in random places all over a fantasy world really never being touched on in the series, ever, the plot of Isekai Shokudou focuses primarily on the stories of its patrons as we’re shown their dining experience in the restaurant and get a glimpse at what this ‘other world’ is like. In essence, the entire show is centered around world building with the restaurant being the centerpiece that draws in all of these beings from all walks of life to come and tell their story and reaction to the food.
And that’s it. That is literally the entire show in a nutshell. The show’s simplistic nature is definitely its one and only strong point because each week brings about something new for the audience to watch due to vast variety of characters that come in through the restaurant’s hallowed door.
The nameless chef simply known as ‘Master’ is really just a figurehead to the whole thing. Rarely does the show ever focus on him, and when it does, is very little that it’s clear that we’re only getting a small sample of something that could be developed more. The amount of detail he gets is ok, and it does actually explain the inexplicable door if you infer enough liberties, but selfishly speaking, I would like a little more detail.
Despite that slight problem, the rest of the cast is rich and vibrant with a whole host of fantasy beings eating in a place that has a menu somehow large and diverse enough to satisfy and feed the desires of so many different patrons. While remembering everyone’s names is virtually impossible, the one takeaway is the audience coming out of every episode having heard a new story or event involving the restaurant. Each A part and B part of an episode focuses on someone different, thus making the formulaic setup for the show all the more enjoyable because in one episode, you could be seeing a treasure hunter reminisce about her grandfather, and in another, you’re watching lizardmen do a ritual. As a result, every episode feels fresh and different, making the viewer coming back wanting seconds to know who’s gonna show up in the next episode.
Produced by Silver Link, Isekai Shokudou has a bright and glossy look to it with rich and bright colors to accentuate the entirety of the show’s fantasy image. Despite that, movement is rather limited in this show, as the calmer feel of the show seemed to divert all of the budget from animating movement to the quality of the characters and backgrounds. Not to say that’s a bad thing, but it’s the show itself seems to have an overall lack of character movement because you’re basically watching a bunch of people and creatures eat rice omelettes and curry, so anything beyond brisk walks and sitting down is too much to be expected.
Both the show’s OP and ED compliment the two combined aspects of the show’s centerpiece: the fantasy element and the homely element. “One In A Billion” is an energetic, bright piece that evokes the show’s fantasy feel and the kind of wonderment that these beings have when they embark on a journey into a strange place they’ve never been to.