Follow TV Tropes


Series / Samurai Gourmet

Go To
"This man is not a wandering samurai of today."

After retiring, he lost his title as a corporate employee and the support of his company.
Takeshi Kasumi, 60 years old.
This story is about a normal 60-year-old man who is helped by a masterless samurai, eating freely without being held back.
A gourmet fantasy.
— Opening narration

Samurai Gourmet (Nobushi no Gurume) is a 2017 Netflix original series based on a Manga by Masayuki Kusumi and Shigeru Tsuchiyama. Takeshi Kasumi is a newly-retired 60-year-old Salaryman, and the series follows his modest efforts to fill his free time with enjoyment. Enjoyment almost always comes in the form of food, but the other thing Kasumi is passionate about is Warring States Era Samurai stories. Whenever he encounters an obstacle to his happiness, his daydreams of a nameless Rōnin teach him how a real samurai would handle things.

This show provides examples of:

  • Angry Chef: In the episode "The White-Haired Knight", Kasumi goes to a yakitori restaurant with a grumpy chef. An American couple puts sauce to their yakiori, triggering the chef's Hair-Trigger Temper.
  • Be Yourself: If the show has one central Aesop, it is this. However, since the protagonist is a mild-mannered older Japanese man, the details are reversed from the standard use of the trope. Instead of "stop trying to be cool and just be natural", it's closer to "stop stifling yourself with propriety and follow your heart".
  • Beergasm: Kasumi loves a good beer, and the samurai revels in his sake.
  • Carpe Diem: Kasumi decides to fill his extra free time doing whatever he feels like. It's subdued, but still it's sometimes rather spontaneous, at least by his standards. Moreover, there's a theme of pushing past obstacles to happiness, whether internal or external.
  • Comfort Food: Don't be fooled by the title. Kasumi is not a true gourmet, and neither is the samurai. Most of the foods Kasumi seeks out would be considered Comfort Food by the Japanese. In many cases, this is made explicit by relating the food to reminiscences of his earlier days, and his palate's lack of adventure is even called out as the dilemma of "Anniversary Oden".
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: In accordance with Japanese Politeness, if there are characters who bring disharmony to the scene, they will always be involved in the social dilemma that brings out the samurai. Sometimes they're just generically negative, but if they explicitly contradict Kasumi's pleasure, watch out!
  • Cool Old Guy:
    • The point of Kasumi's daydreams is that this is what he would be if he followed the samurai's example. Sometimes he does, and it works out well for him. If he's inspired to anything even a little audacious, however, either he won't follow through or it will be made somehow moot.
    • Samurai aside, Kasumi's true coolness is his inherent ability to derive extreme pleasure from the humblest of things.
  • Dream Sue: The samurai is not Kasumi, given that they generally appear on screen together, but he's certainly a projection of Kasumi. The exception is the samurai's final appearance, where it is Kasumi himself in the costume. Unfortunately, Dream Sue is subverted, and Kasumi concludes that he's got a long way to go before he can pull that off.
  • Easy Evangelism: The samurai gets away with this a lot. Even though the dilemmas he faces are generally much exaggerated from what's really happening to Kasumi, as soon as he opens his mouth everyone recognizes that he's speaking cosmic truths and mends their ways. This is fully justified, since the point of the fantasy is Kasumi inspiring himself.
  • Fantasy Sequence: The samurai typically appears once per episode, sometimes a couple.
  • Food Porn: Abundant, lavish, and unapologetic. There are shots to cover the preparation, the plating, the service, and the eating, often all of the above for a given meal. And yet, although any dish that merits a Food Porn sequence is guaranteed to be one that Kasumi takes great pleasure from, the food itself is often quite humble. Frequently, it's only "the best thing he's ever eaten" because of his state of mind. Despite the title, an important theme of the show is that Kasumi is not a gourmet in the traditional sense. He's just a guy who is determined to enjoy life, and he really appreciates food.
  • For Happiness: All Kasumi wants is for everyone to enjoy what they're doing. In fact, any story that made this trope more prominent would probably be Glurge.
  • I Just Want to Be Badass: Deconstructed. Kasumi always takes inspiration from the badassery of his imaginary samurai, but he can't always bring himself to follow through on it completely. In the final fantasy, where he himself is in the samurai costume, he is forced to admit that he's "got a long way to go".
  • Indulgent Fantasy Segue: The samurai always fits this bill, but only sometimes does he solve his problems with violence.
  • Inner Monologue: Kasumi does a lot of talking in his head.
  • Japanese Politeness: It's so central that a viewer who has no grasp of it may be completely baffled by the "conflicts", just because of Values Dissonance. The role of the samurai is usually to demonstrate an alternative in situations where Japanese Politeness might not be the appropriate response, and armed with that inspiration and the privilege of age, Kasumi will sometimes break out—or at least try to.
    • It's also notable that whenever a non-Japanese character appears, they tend to strike Kasumi as rude. The exception is in "The White-Haired Knight", where it is the yakitori chef's behavior toward two American tourists that he finds reprehensible. It's not because the tourists aren't committing legitimate, though minor, gaffes, but because as foreigners they should get some slack.
  • Longing for Fictionland: Downplayed. Kasumi is not unhappy living in the real world, but he does truly love Sengoku stories, and the samurai fantasies bear it out.
  • Mental Story: Downplayed. The samurai fantasies are far from the majority of the screen time. And while Kasumi takes inspiration from them, all his true enjoyment comes from his real life. However, the show is a Mental Story overall in the sense that, if you took out the fantasies and Kasumi's Inner Monologue, there would be an absurd amount of screen time with absolutely nothing happening.
  • Mr. Imagination: Kasumi, though his Fantasy Sequences are limited to brief vignettes always starring the same samurai.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: A major theme of the show, in fact. For Kasumi to achieve bliss, he has to acquire just the right thing, but that thing need not be inherently impressive. For instance, after being served a bowl of ramen so disappointing he couldn't even eat it, a bowl of instant, pre-packaged ramen made by his wife is the best bowl of ramen he's ever had. (Note that "instant, pre-packaged ramen" in Japan doesn't always imply the dry-noodle, packet of flavor powder kind. Probably even Kasumi couldn't find that awesome.)
  • No Name Given: The samurai. When asked, he responds that he's "not worthy of a name".
  • Obsessed with Food: Actually, Kasumi as a character is hardly a classical example of the type. But there's no getting around the fact that the show revolves around his seeking out and really, really enjoying specific foods.
  • Orgasmically Delicious: The over-the-top pleasure Kasumi gets from most meals strays into this territory.
  • Power Fantasy: The samurai in Kasumi's daydreams always solves his dilemmas in a badass way, though it only occasionally involves violence. The extent to which this inspires Kasumi himself varies depending on just how much boldness it requires of him.
  • Purely Aesthetic Era: An inversion of sorts. Whenever the samurai appears, all the characters besides Kasumi are replaced with Sengoku analogues of themselves. (The starlet sulking in her trailer, for example, becomes a princess in a palanquin.) The surroundings, on the other hand, are left completely intact. So you get to see such things as a samurai strolling off toward a horizon with a steel-girder rail bridge in front of it.
  • The Quiet One: In many episodes, more of Kasumi's lines are given as inner monologue than spoken aloud. The dilemmas that prompt the appearance of the samurai are often situations where Kasumi recognizes that speaking up may be the right thing to do.
  • Reluctant Retiree: Downplayed. The circumstances of Kasumi's retirement aren't discussed, and he doesn't express much regret that he has retired. Nevertheless, there is wistfulness and some struggle to adjust. The show can be summed up as, "Now what do I do with all this time? I think I'll eat."
  • Rōnin: The samurai hits all the stereotypical ronin notes: unshaven and unkempt, walking the earth, terse, just a little coarse (but not too much), hard-drinking, and understatedly badass. Basically, Tetsuji Tamayama is channeling Toshiro Mifune.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: Whenever Kasumi's pleasure is being tainted by someone else's bad attitude, this is what he's thinking. Therefore, it's what the samurai says out loud.
  • Walking the Earth: This is what the imaginary ronin is doing, as ronin are wont to.
  • What Would X Do?: The samurai fantasies are often preceded by Kasumi explicitly asking himself, "What would a samurai do?"

Episodes of this series provide examples of:

  • Asian Rudeness: Of course most rude people Kasumi meets are no more Asian than he is, but see Stereotypes of Chinese People.
  • Daydream Surprise: Only the very first time the samurai appears, in "Mid-day Beer at a Restaurant". Kasumi is initially quite startled that a Sengoku ronin just strolled into a modern-day restaurant. All his later appearances are clearly fantasy.
  • The Generation Gap: "Yakiniku Her Way" is largely about this, as Kasumi takes his twenty-one-year-old niece to dinner. He finds her somewhat careless and unmannered, and she complains that he tells her what to do like all the other adults in her life. In the end, they find common ground, and she appreciates her uncle being straightforward with her—thanks to the samurai, of course.
  • Imagine Spotting: Usually when the samurai appears, all other characters in the scene will be replaced with Sengoku analogues. Kasumi is the only character to remain himself, and when the fantasy is over no one is the wiser. In "Yakiniku Her Way", instead it seems to be Kasumi's niece who sees the samurai, and all other characters vanish, including Kasumi. Probably the niece did not actually see this fantasy, but at the end, as she watches her uncle walk away she briefly sees him as the samurai.
  • Like You Were Dying: Inverted in "Umbrellas at the Dinner Counter". It's only after confirming that a worrying test result was an aberration that Kasumi determines to celebrate at a lowbrow pub.
  • Making the Choice for You: In "Lunch at an Old-Fashioned Café", Kasumi's peace is disturbed by some obnoxious patrons. It takes most of the episode for the samurai's solution, and the other patrons' stares (since Kasumi is the oldest one there) to convince him that he is the one that must handle this. At the last minute, the waitress handles it instead. Kasumi dubs her the "samurai".
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: In "The White-Haired Knight", the yakitori chef's attitude toward foreigners rubs everyone the wrong way.
  • Pursue the Dream Job:
    • "Yakiniku Her Way" plays with this. Kasumi is supposed to give his young niece advice about getting a job. He learns that she doesn't have one because she wants to be a professional musician, an idea her father hates. The niece, in turn, ponders how Kasumi could have endured working the same office job for thirty years straight. He passes on the same Aesop his boss taught him, which is that motivation comes with dedication, no matter how unglamorous the job. In the end his advice is that being serious about music is just fine—as long as it's not against her father's wishes. (This is when you really realize you're watching a show from an older Japanese man's point of view.)
    • "Bento Lunch on Set" plays it straight. Kasumi tries his hand at being a film extra (purely because a friend promised it would get him an awesome free lunch), and he befriends a veteran extra who quit his full-time job to try to break into action roles at 45. Internally, Kasumi dismisses this as rather unrealistic, but he reads in the paper later that the fellow actually pulled it off.
  • Stereotypes of Chinese People: In "The Demoness's Ramen", the proprietress of the ramen shop is designed to be the worst possible middle-aged Chinese woman. She wears too much makeup, dresses in a gaudy qipao, smokes while customers are eating, and is unspeakably rude—especially by Japanese standards. Notably, this is one of the very few meals Kasumi gets no pleasure from at all.