Jan 20, 2023
Magic Chef of Ice and Fire starts out with a classic revenge tale with an interesting twist: the protagonist Nian Bing who escapes the clutches of the villains at the sacrifice of his parents takes tutelage under a famous Demon Chef, after realizing mutual benefit in how combining the elements to make the perfect dish might also make him more attuned to elemental magic. It sets up a dichotomy where Nian Bing makes a promise to his chef master to travel the lands and become an esteemed chef himself, while escaping the hunt of the villains who were after his life in the beginning. With
such a unique plot and an accomplished author (the same guy who wrote Soul Land and Throne of Seal), it unfortunately goes wrong almost from the beginning with the introduction of the first female sidekick or love interest. I mean, she's cute, but grows up into a massive tsundere, and that doesn't stop Nian Bing from picking up four more of these women in the first season (and more to come in the second), each more annoying than the last. To be sure, he isn't trying to date these women, he just wants to practice magic and learn about being a chef. But the women all want him, and he's too "nice" to reject any of them, often going way out of his way risking his livelihood to "save" them, leading to all sorts of misunderstandings that just serve to diverge from the main plot. And like Tokyo Revenger, it's clear the respective protagonists will never grow out of their habits of being stomped all over by every side character they meet. The most offensive girl is the last Nian Bing meets in the first season, who is a child that literally pouts and cries when he tries to get away from her, so of course being the spineless invertebrate that he is, he bends over backwards to be at her beck and call, even while strong enemies are honing in. And with that kind of horrible decision making, the fact that he escapes all punishment with silly plot armor just adds salt to the wound.
This show is a great example of a great plot and great potential snuffed by the worst characters imaginable -- characters that don't learn their lesson, and still don't in the upcoming season 2. Minor spoiler, but not really, in the second season, Nian Bing runs into assassins who are after his life because the pair of sisters have bad past relationship issues (the dumbest backstory), and he ends up saving their lives!
Reviewer’s Rating: 3
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