After passing the Guangzhou Special Chef Trials, Mao decided to travel around China, to learn more about the unique preparation of food. Upon his return, he will learn that the real battle has only just begun. The Underground Cooking Society has already begun to move... (Source: MU)
The original 1997-1998 Chuuka Ichiban! series can be said as the OG to cooking shows like the commons we all see with similar shows pop up and got popular in their own right (i.e. Shokugeki no Soma), and it’s considered a classic for anyone who wants to get introduced to the cooking gourmet genre. However, to give a summarized backdrop, the OG series covered only the first third of the insanely long 52-episode series with the relevant manga, so take it as you will about fillers. The reason was, due to a problem in serialization in 1997 (mostly translation errors), the “Shin” (真) part came around and served as the continuation (NOT sequel) to the OG, because mangaka Etsushi Ogawa was still publishing the manga back then, so it wouldn’t be wise for the OG to surpass Ogawa-sensei in terms of storytelling, so the remaining two-thirds (Episode 19 onwards) served as filler.
Fast forward 20 years later, we finally got the green-light of the sequel (this time a YES) for Shin Chuuka Ichiban which covers content right after Episode 19 of the OG onward. But if you don’t know what the OG is about, it’s about this boy called Liu Maoxing, after the death of his mother, Pai, who was called the ‘Goddess of Cuisine’, becomes a Super Chef in order to take the title as Master Chef of his mother’s restaurant. Journeying across 19th Century China during the Qing Dynasty, in the fictitious “Era of the Cooking Wars”, split between 4 regions (Beijing, Szechuan, Shanghai, and Guangdong), to not only find rivals and partners to serve as his guidance and stepping stones to be acknowledged as the “youngest chef” to be crowned as Super Chef, but thwarting the evil organization known as the Underground Cooking Society for their own gains to do the same.
Now here’s my problem with the 2019 reboot. NOTHING ever comes close to Nippon Animation’s stunning and amazing 90s visuals that I still remember watching as a kid all those years ago when DVD was a thing (there were as many serialization issues in the past), instead trading it for the generic visuals and art style that you’d see floating around in about 99% of shows made in the modern age. NAS (or Nihon Ad (Amination Development) Systems), a co-founding subsidiary of Animax (alongside Sunrise, Toei Animation and TMS) did most of the work with cooperation from Production I.G. (though mostly minor stuff), and I’d have to say that this 2019 reboot is a disservice and incoherent justice to the manga, albeit both mediums presented in the same shape and form, but the anime just felt like another Shokugeki no Soma to me, using the generic-ness to hype the same way as it did. I truly lamented out aloud: “I’M SORRY, this is the OG! Should it be on a higher pedestal matching the manga and the anime back then?” Apparently not, anime standards 20 years later are different now, so everything has to be low budget cut-outs, and yes I understand that, but to see the manga sequel adapted this way is just sad, NOT TO MENTION that there’s a sequel on the way!? I really wonder what is going on in the production staff’s minds whether did they watch the OG, or just tried their “best” to imitate Ogawa-san’s unique manga art to something of abominable status.
Character-wise, it’s Mao Liuxing and his companions which consists of some of the greatest chefs in their own prowess, so I guess that’s fine. Music-wise too, Qajiff’s OP was obscenely boring though the song was decent (and got old too quick) while Brian the Sun’s ED was surprisingly the best part about the entire reboot, a song that fits the entire nature of the show on its good accord.
The sequel is on its way…meaning that the manga still has a lot to go adapting close to the latter half of the OG, and I’m ready as inclined reading the translated chapters so far (which have paced and caught onto the anime), but I’d really hope that the next time that these people know what they want to do with it. You can also free anime watch online and free download anime in this site.