Isekai Izakaya Nobu: A Variety Show in Anime Form

After reading Neko’s Isekai Izakaya Nobu first impressions, I realised there’s a bit of a problem with one of the criticisms people have against this ONA.

As much as I admit I haven’t continued Isekai Izakaya Nobu and Isekai Shokudou after their first episode because their appeal lands squarely in the “foodie” basket (which is clearly not my department), I feel like I have to defend the former against one of the problems people have with it.

The thing about Isekai Izakaya Nobu that tends to annoy people is not the food or the alternate world. It’s the text splayed over the top of the show, narrating everything that goes on in the visuals. However, if you ever set eyes on a Japanese variety show, the text is the same way. Essentially, people are missing some of the point if they want another Isekai Shokudou with this show – Nobu’s basis is a variety show, or a “make this food yourself” show like the ones Nigella Lawson hosts. It isn’t particularly recogniseable at first because you don’t expect it in an anime, but it becomes somewhat blatant when Nobu Plus shows up.

There’s a name for not really relying on certain country-specific conventions, which is often pointed to within the analysis of anime as a reason why it succeeds – mukokuseki (stateless). You’re likely to know this term through how characters are presented as “stateless”, but in actual fact the translation proves it can run deeper, and does run deeper, than that. So why’d I bring it up? Fans of Isekai Shokudou gravitate towards Nobu, expecting more of the same, but due to the degree of statelessness involved in the former, they also expect the same amount of it in the latter. Basically, Isekai Shokudou holds a lot more of what overseas audiences are familiar with in food anime (the creation of the food and the tasting of it, which is also what more competitive shows like Masterchef use as appeals) and it’s for this reason you shouldn’t compare the two shows.

Admittedly, when I watched the first episode, I had to blow the episode up to full screen at one point to see some of the stuff behind the text, so I will concede on the fact the text is intrusive. I do also agree Nobu doesn’t focus on its alternate world as much as anyone would expect from a show like this. It is (based on the first episode, at least) trying to keep its focus squarely on the discovery of the izakaya and the interactions within as a matter of relevance and limited time though, so maybe it’s just the fact they could’ve had a longer runtime. However, the main takeaway from this post is that comparisons are fine, but don’t expect shows to fulfil every niche you want it to fill. After all, surprises are a spice of life.

So, do you think people’s complaints against Isekai Izakaya Nobu are correct, or unwarranted? Considering this show’s flown under the radar as the season continues, I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

9 thoughts on “Isekai Izakaya Nobu: A Variety Show in Anime Form

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    1. I can think of 2 reasons why there isn’t that much talk around it: 1) it only has 4 eps (as of when I last checked the show on CR). 2) At 15 mins/ep it’s long for a short-ep show but forgettable as a standard-length-ep show…which puts it into a strange grey area in regards to the talk around it.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I was and am unfamiliar with variety shows, and yet had no trouble figuring out that something like this most be going on. I like it! 😺

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You make good points about the show, but for people who are wholly unfamiliar with Japanese variety shows, such as myself, that is a connection that we won’t make. It’ll be lost on a lot of folks and that’s what makes it so off-putting, more so for me personally. Even if I made those connections, it probably still wouldn’t be appealing for me. It’s just a simple case of it not being my cup of tea. Other people may enjoy it a lot, especially if they make the connections that you mentioned, and that’s totally cool and dandy.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Probably. They are quite difficult to come by and when you don’t know much about them, it’s difficult to find a place to even start checking them out. They’re also not for everyone. I know quite a few people who don’t like variety shows, or similar type of media, in general

        Liked by 1 person

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