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There are a lot of battle manga, and there are a lot of food manga, but Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro’s Toriko is one of the few where the hero battles the food — literally.
The series, which runs in both the American and Japanese versions of Shonen Jump, is about a gourmet hunter who tracks down the rarest foods in the world. Like the lead character in the foodie manga Oishinbo, Toriko is trying to assemble the greatest meal ever, but that’s where the similarity ends.
The stories in Oishinbo often hinge on some delicate trick of the palate, whereas Toriko is about hunting down and capturing the most difficult foods in the world — foods that fight back or are hidden away in hostile territory and protected by ferocious creatures. The fun in this manga — and it is a really fun manga to read — comes from the preposterous animals and plants Shimabkuro comes up with for Toriko (and his timid companion Komatsu) to fight and eat: the Rainbow Fruit, which changes flavor seven times when it’s being eaten; apples with human faces that taste better when surprised; plants with leaves of bacon; the Dodurian Bomb (stinkiest food ever); and the incandescent Jewel Meat.
Now Shimabukuro is letting the fans get in on the fun: The American Shonen Jump is having a Call For Ingredients. Readers are invited to suggest their own crazy ingredients, and publisher Viz Media will send them along to Japan. Japanese Shonen Jump has already done this, and a number of reader suggestions, including Corn on the Bone, have appeared in the manga. This will apparently be a running event, with no set deadline, all the better to keep the ideas flowing.