Four thumbs up in my opinion.
At first glance Toriko
is an homage to old-school shonen: Crazy Awesome
fighters, techniques, and fights; winning with Heart (or Stomach) as much as with fists; super healing; minimal girls & romance; World of Badass
; and absurd serial escalation. Then around the time of the Eco Nori I went back and reread a lot of it, and had my epiphany.
is a parody. It is an extraordinarily high-quality parody with unique characters, wonderful world-building, and an impressive plot, but it is also an unbelievable parody
that verges on Troll
Firstly, it is a thorough parody of the old-school shonen manga as much as it is an homage. Serial escalation while they only run into stronger
people enough to be reminded how far they have to go, (The Battle Wolf is over 6,000!
) check. Unique fighting styles and fighters to the point of ridiculous specialization, (Grinpatch's straw) check. Lack of Romance (Toriko and Rin) is go. Importance of Heart (ingredients choose who cooks/eats them, even living animals that should not want to die) shows up often enough too.
Next, overcommercialization. Goumet taxis, Gourmet barbers, Gourmet soothsayers, and IGO's influence over everything in the world. Compare it to Scooby-Doo
lunch boxes, Ronald mcDonald actions figures, and oil's reach into government. Get the joke yet?
Lastly, it parodies and comments on human vice and real world issues through the "Gourmet" lens:
Gourmet Casino: gambling& greed; drug cartels; slavery; and tyrannical warlords in undeveloped areas.
Pit fights in the IGO 1st Garden: even good governments will make moral compromises to work on a bigger picture.
Four Beasts: disasters/uprisings/threats are not best resolved through overwhelming military violence, but through people willing lay their lives and beliefs on the line.
Midora: poverty and desperation creates many of our world's monsters, and they can be defeated by defeating those issues.
Ichiryuu: true strength is found not in fighting, but in faith (in his kids), hope (for the world/humanity), and love (for everyone, even those fallen into darkness).
is overall very idealistic on the scale, showing that these problems can be solved if people are willing to care
and to try
. The imagination, awesome, and comedy are just bonuses.