Sep 13, 2022
I am a super-fan of the gourmet genre and try to watch all gourmet anime. It's a mixed bag. There are some older ones that really teach you about food, like Oishinbo, some that teach you how to cook and others are slice of life with some degree of cooking thrown in. The 3rd category describes this donghua. Honestly this anime is a solid 7/10 until the last episode which is an amazing 20/10 it elevates the entire season.
The premise: a talented chef accidentally poisons herself. She is sent back in time to ancient China, waking up in the body of a woman who has
been kidnapped on her wedding day by bandits and set to marry a bandit lord! Unbeknownst to her the bandit "Lord" is actually an imperial prince spying on the bandits. Shenanigans ensue, with our heroine using her cooking skills to get herself out of many predicaments. I don't know about you, but if I lived in ancient times and someone came along who could make DELICIOUS food, I will admit I might also be easily bribed.
Seasons 1 and 2 follow the same formula - an issue or misunderstanding, cooking fairy transformation, reveal of fantastic food, everything ends well. It's predictable but charming as we travel around China with the protagonist, watching her marvel at things and managing to cook food even when there are seemingly no ingredients worth eating. The mostly nice characters are wholesome, the music is lovely, the art is beautiful and all the food looks mouth watering. Everything is done well, as I said a solid 7/10.
Then today I watched the last episode and to say it is a masterpiece of an episode is under-selling it. This episode is one of the best, most satisfying, conclusions to an anime I've ever watched in 30+ years. Everything that I, as a viewer, wished for, they gave me. Food, Family, Friendship, Love. That. And more. This is the ultimate in Wish-Fulfillment (at least for a whole demographic of women). This had one of those "spoil the market" scenes that I'll remember for a long time after. The enjoyment factor of this episode was so great, I had to add +1 to the 7 rating making this a 8/10.
I am not joking when I say I cannot think of the last time I watched an anime finale this satisfying that at the end I was going awww, aaah and sighing in bliss. Now THAT is how you end a series.
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