Aletta (Sub): “Master, does that customer only eat pork cutlet rice bowls?”
Me: “Um Aletta…you could ask that about any customer and their meal of choice. Everyone only eats one dish!”
It’s officially confirmed in this episode that the previous owner of Nekoya is Tenshu’s grandfather. That was one of my two guesses; the other being that Tenshu was simply an apprentice. I like the idea that Nekoya is a family run business since that means this one family has followed this fantasy world for a really long time. And apple really does not fall far from the tree anyway. Seriously, the granddad acts the exact same as the grandson. Extremely relaxed and casual but also considerate and appreciative of his customers.
Speaking of the customers, I have taken notice to how many of them are non-human. We’re learning that the other world has quite a lot of racism going on since humans, demons, beastkinds, and elves all don’t trust one another. Being of mixed heritage (like a half-elf for example) is even worse since you’re looked down upon by both races you descend from. Racial discrimination is something that a lot of fantasy anime feature but I really like how Isekai Shokudou frames it through a restaurant. The fact that Nekoya invites people of any race (even if by coincidence) and has a zero tolerance for violence makes it a very accepting place. It’s even run by a man who really couldn’t care less where you’re from and what you are. Some tension do arise but it’s in everyone’s best interest to be civil because they want to enjoy their food. I don’t know if inclusion is a prevailing theme in this show but I do find it interesting how discrimination in the other world seemingly vanishes a bit in Nekoya.
One thing that I do know is more textual is the fact that some of these customers’ livelihoods are built around Nekoya’s menus. We’ve seen this in previous episodes but this episode adds two more to the list. We have Lionel, a lion warrior who saves up money from gladiator matches so that he can both purchase his freedom and to buy pork cutlet bowls. Then we have a half-elf princess named Victoria who harnessed her years of magical training to create a freezer for her takeout pudding. These plots sound very ridiculous, and they are, but I really like the idea that good food serve as catalysts to bettering one’s own life.
For Lionel, those pork cutlet bowls motivate him to win gladiator matches and get money. Is it silly that he saves up to keep eating pork cutlet bowls? A little bit but it’s hard to deny the result: Lionel has a steady income because of that dish. Meanwhile, Victoria (who’s vignette I’ll wholeheartedly admit I liked more) doesn’t resent her half-elf heritage because of pudding literally shows the perks of being a half-elf. Since she’s half-human, she can enjoy an egg-based dessert like pudding. And being of Elvish descent means she can use her high magical aptitude to craft a freezer for her takeout food. It’s silly but it’s also extremely charming and even a bit heartwarming. Victoria is content with who she is because there is something that makes her happy about it.
Also, we got another scene with Aletta! Since Isekai Shokudou is just rolling with its vignette format, I kind of cherish any scene where Aletta is prominent. She’s clearly so happy to be working at Nekoya and she’s also quite dedicated to the job since she’s memorized the menus. I cracked up when Aletta plead with Tenshu to not fire her because she looked at the menus in her spare time. As if Tenshu would actually do that but given her past, it’s understandable. Still, it’s nice seeing that she has developed a rapport with Tenshu with the chef telling her stories about the customers and even educating her more about the world (remember, half-elves aren’t necessarily vegan).
Now if only the show just reveal if she’s finally left that haystack. Seriously, that’s still bugging me and we’re five episodes in. Maybe, that’ll be addressed next episode since the preview suggests that the spotlight is back on her.