Back to the anime review grind after a short break with what I originally thought was just a regular short show. I later learned that Today’s Menu For The Emiya Family was in fact an original net animation…Crunchyroll only licensed it for the West. I am surprised that Netflix didn’t jump onto this, considering they have quite a big monopoly of shows in the Fate universe, including exclusivity to Fate/Apocrypha and Fate/Extra: Last Encore.
This short show is apparently set in an alternate universe that’s set around the time of the Fate/hollow ataraxia game, where Shirou Emiya lives peacefully with the rest of the main Fate cast. I know that’s it’s good to see a lot of big anime franchises poke fun at each other and not take each other too seriously, as it can sometimes alienate audiences. Here for this show, we see the Fate universe isn’t all epic fighting, detailed plots and seeing “people die if they are killed”…and that they enjoy good food too.
In this short show, we get to see a total of 13 dishes being made, from New Years’ soba to omelet rice, from foil-baked salmon to hamburger steaks. Shirou himself does the majority of the cooking in, with others helping him. His approach looks pretty much like any other cooking program, going through every ingredient, telling us when to heat up things and for how long, and so on. There is no linear story here, but there doesn’t need to be – this is a short show after all, and so each 12-13 minute episode can operate on their own. Themes for each episode range from New Years’ celebration to Girls’ Day, and a lot of the main Fate characters all play their part in this large family unit, despite all living in separate homes.
In this show, Shirou lives with his Servant Saber and Taiga Fujimura, who, in the main story, is his English teacher (but is referred to as Fuji-nee by Shirou). The other members of the cast all drop by to chat, help prepare and enjoy some home cooking, and any other events, so this is all one basic affair. A bit of a no-frills spinoff short show, and precious little to write home about. Though as a trash-talking writer at The OASG, I am required to find something to complain at…joking of course; I am allowed to like the shows I watch.
Now I’ve watched an awful lot of short shows, all of which operate in different ways. Some work on linear stories, but most work on an episode-by-episode basis. This does in fact make me think of one other short show, Wakako-zake, that tells individual stories centering around an office lady touring bars and restaurants and enjoying alcohol and food (but mostly alcohol). These mini-stories were compelling to watch because we actually take a real interest in the main character as well as the bars and restaurants she visits. It was a show that we could dip into anytime we wanted; it didn’t matter which episode it was.
And that’s my one issue with this: it is not that much of an accessible show compared to other short shows. I can take a guess and say that if this was a full-length show, I’d have a lot more to complain about. The Fate universe, anime-wise, has expanded so much now, from when it began with Fate/stay night in 2006. So many spinoffs have been made, some that are more conservative to the original theme, like Fate/Zero or Fate/Apocrypha, and some that go in an entirely different direction altogether, like the Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya series, or the more recent The Case Files of Lord El-Melloi II. So how is this any different, you may ask? If the Fate universe wants to expand into different directions, they have that right, don’t they?
Like with other Fate spinoffs, you as the viewer really need to understand the universe itself, who these characters are, and what relationships between Servants and Masters are like. In this show it’s sort of thrown out the window, as everyone just shows up to Shirou’s house and enjoys good food together like one family unit, but while some other Fate spinoffs are capable of operating on their own, Today’s Menu For The Emiya Family is something for the Fate fans only, to be honest. Unlike something like Wakako-zake, where you can dip into any episode and enjoy it, for this, we ideally need to know these Fate characters before diving into it. So because of this, those who don’t enjoy or have no interest in the universe won’t get that much from this show at all, aside from perhaps learning some good dishes.
This short show was something that released new episodes once every month. A regular weekly show would have frustrated viewers, I feel. As I say, Today’s Menu For The Emiya Family is a spinoff show strictly for the Fate fans. People will still find entertainment in Shirou preparing dishes, but that’s the only thing that keeps this thing going. If you’re a Fate fan then that won’t matter, but if you’re not then this might turn out to be a bit frustrating.
I’ve said all of this about the show, but is it really as mediocre as I’m making it out to be? I mean the animation is pleasant enough, and watching Shirou cook all of these dishes is kind of cool, but since I’m not that big on the Fate franchise, that’s all I can really get out of this. Like I said, hardcore Fate fans watch this to see all of their favorite Masters and Servants act like one big happy family, instead of wanting to rip each others’ heads off. And those who aren’t hardcore Fate fans will only see some fine dishes being made, and that’s it. Tragic, but it can’t be helped.