Spilled Ink

Toriko: The Health Benefits of Heavy Eating

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  • I never thought I’d say it, but I’m happy Toriko is wrapping up. It’s been one of my weekly joys since I stumbled upon it six years back.

    The stories of muscle-headed gourmets tasked with hunting down the world’s wildest ingredients exactly the mixture of bombastic high-adventure and tournament-fighting manga that’s all-too rare in comics these days.

    This isn’t a sight of relief. When I say I’m happy to see it done with, I mean I’m happy to see author Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro finally get a chance to take an already absurd premise to its logical conclusion. To show all these other shonen series that crawled past the finish line trailing bloody stumps (looking at you, Bleach) how to do an ending.

    The thing about Toriko is that it has always been a series with an unapologetically radical scale and a delightfully literal food based motif. Titular character Toriko’s main attack manifests as knives and forks. By the end of an early story arc, he’s able to hurl them at near-light speed.

    The world isn’t just dozens of times larger than our own: it’s alive, the last dish in a planet devouring monstrosity’s millennia long gorging. Nothing can be minor, nothing can be insignificant, not in a series where the main character’s goal is to serve up an entity called GOD as the central dish in his full-course meal.

    It’s only fitting that when Shimabukuro finally gets to the finale he fully leans into the series’ manic strength by making it a universe-shattering catastrophe. Characters and monsters who until now were said to be so powerful that their presence could destroy the world have been dog-piling the main villain with a barrage of attacks that leave shattered moons and sunken continents, and fractured entire timelines.

    A plot spanning literal billions of years has been revealed, and in some of the most detailed art you’ll find in any weekly comic, to boot. My favorite development of all is the revelation that, in a world replete with insane superpowers – the ability to scream at a frequency that induces death; the ability to be so lucky life always goes your way, the list goes on. The final boss’ ultimate technique is the ability to eat literally anything. A collapsing star, a laser so powerful it rips through reality, a black hole, time itself, anything. It’s a perfectly idiotic stroke that encapsulates all that is great about Toriko and its willingness to push its every element to its most extreme conclusion.

    I know I cautioned about the dangers of escalation the other week. But that was with regards to series like Tokyo Ghoul that begin subdued only to sacrifice a more subdued beauty in pursuit of the grandiose.

    Toriko has always been shamelessly dumb and loud and brash and known what to do with it. Anything less than a universe-rending ending from it would be a disappointment. You don’t promise a feast and deliver a tasteful kale salad as the main course; you roast a whole pig over a tire fire.

    Comics, Review