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Meng Qi Shi Shen Anime Cover

Score: 7.32/10

Synopsis

Ye Jiayao finds herself back in time in the body of Ye Jinxuan. After many twists, she thought that she would finally be able to lead a simple life and achieve her dream of opening the best restaurant in Huai Song. However, there are villains constantly trying to bring her down. (Source: Novelupdates)

The budget put into animation quality and graphical quality is pretty self explanatory, too bad the source material holds the art back. Its a rather straightforward work overall, you can see hints of its origins as a wuxia/xianxia if you’re familiar with the genre, but the worst the original work was removed.

Art & Sound 8/10
The food and cooking is fantastic, with appropriate musical accompaniment. My only complaint is that there isn’t enough of it. They barely manage a cooking scene an episode and its really the only reason to watch this anime.

Writing 2/10
Really just nothing much in the writing at all. The first arc is an episodic isekai standard of getting to know the world, with a pretty unappealing romantic plot including multiple scenes of the heroine going “wow i really like this handsome guy” as he straight up threatens her. Its made more ridiculous when she actually has more chemistry with a character introduced in the second arc of the season (not that that’s much of a romance either, its a low bar). The second arc sort of implies some dramatic plot points will be brought up but it goes no where as does the rest of the plot.

The biggest issue is that there’s no feeling of conflict, which is most likely because the original source material just lacked anything substantial.
The first arc is never really explained properly, the conflict ending up pretty much just being a background detail.
The second arc lacks any significant conflict (which is what i feel the series should have just been from the start, just an episodic cooking adventure).
There’s the overarcing drama, which is resolved unceremoniously with the sudden appearance of some goons, to generate a damsel in distress rescue.
And there are 2 instances of cooking competition where they barely pretend that the heroine will lose.

Overall its not like it isn’t enjoyable, its easy to ignore the lack of any significant writing if you’re just in it for the food scenes. There are some rather unfortunate stereotypical issues around playing character sexual orientation for comedy towards the end, which isn’t great. Its a good effort on part of the production company and director for improving on what i would have considered an unsalvageable property.

The anime is very visually appealing and though the plot is kinda loose in its direction, it holds itself up pretty well between the character's interactions. Its premise is pretty simple, but I think it has enough interesting elements to make it worth a watch. And though I'm not that into cooking anime, I found this one appealing enough to get through since, again, the characters interactions are really what does it for me. Most of the characters are a bit flat since most of the characterization focuses only on a 2-3 core characters, but that was really all the story needed to keep the plot moving. Overall, it's a nice medieval slice of life with a few moments of high tension. I do hope for it to get renewed for a second season, but even if it doesn't, it's a nice show to casually watch, especially with such a charming opening song.

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