Anime 
TL;DR
Cooking Master Boy Season 1
中華一番! (Chuuka Ichiban)

Synopsis

The story takes place in 19th century China during the Qing Dynasty, where the Emperor was weakened and the country was close to chaos. It is also during a fictitious era called “The Era of the Cooking Wars”. It was an era in which top chefs with different cooking styles tried their best to improve their skills and to become the best chef in China. It is a country where insulting a high-grade chef or fooling around with cooking could land a person in jail, and impersonating a top-chef is as good as a usurpation of authority. Chefs compete with each other in order to gain respect and even power, but also with the risks of losing everything.
Directed by
Written by
Screenplay by
Music by

Rating

  • The overall rating of the show.

Poor < Fair < Good < Great

Animation

  • Animation quality and consistency for that time. 

Poor < Fair < Good < Great

Story

  • How well the story flows and keeps you engaged.

Poor < Fair < Good < Great

Pros

World building

Cons

Character design
Annoying character traits

PROs CONS

Overview

In 1995, Kodansha published the manga. From 1995 to 1997, it was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Magazine. However, during serialization, the character ‘真’ was added, so from 1997 to 1999, it was serialized as Shin Chūka Ichiban! (真・中華一番!, True ver. – The best in Chinese (food)!).

In some other countries, the anime adaptation was also called Cooking Master Boy.

Alternative title

– Chuuka Ichiban!
– 中華一番!
– 요리왕 비룡
– Shin Chūka Ichiban!
– 中華小廚師
– 真・中華一番!
– Cooking Master Boy
– Đầu Bếp Cung Đình
– ยอดกุ๊กแดนมังกร
– Най-добрият готвач
– 中华小当家

TL;DR Review

Chūka Ichiban! (中華一番!, lit. The best in Chinese (food)) is a manga created by Etsushi Ogawa. It is also known as Cooking Master Boy in some country. In 1997, it was adapted into an anime series directed by Masami Anno.

The animation is good for the time (1997), but lack details compare to today standard. The pieces of music are very good of that late 90’s Jpop style.

Our main character, Liu “Mao” Xing, is a 13-year-old boy that is frankly overpowered. He got a photographic memory, can tell almost any ingredients used from one taste, can cook like a master without any training, and solutions tend to just fall right into his laps. You find you are rooting for him not because he’s a likable character, but because almost everyone that challenges him is like a villain.

The other two supporting characters that follow Mao around, Mei Li and Shirou, would be better off if they didn’t exist. Mei Li serve no function than being a trigger for Mao to give his expositions and possibly force love interest. For a 16-year-old, she has the maturity of a 12-year-old. As for Shirou, he is just an annoying brat. It’s like having an annoying goofy comedy relief character in an already goofy comedy. It’s just redundant. I think the show starts to turn off for me when this character was introduced.

Get ready, for this show is comprised almost of just expositions. As this is targetted at a younger demographic, it is essentially an educational show filled with explanations.

The story is just a string of random encounters and challenges at the start. There is an introduction arc early in the season, but after that, it just meanders about. The plot and dialogs can be cringy at times.

The only saving grace of the show is seeing how Mao will beat the next challenge. There’s something oddly satisfying when he takes some people down a notch. This is one of my guilty pleasure.

You can tell this anime may have inspired other later cooking show like Yakitate!! Ja-pan and Food Wars!

I would only recommend this anime for those that like the previously mentioned series. It isn’t very deep and quite goofy, but a decent watch when you just want to shut off your brain. Cooking Master Boy contains some graphic violence and alcohol and tobacco consumption. Intended for young adults.

Similar Title 
Recommendations

Yakitate!! Ja-pan Season 1 Review

Azuma Kazuma isn’t terribly clever, but he’s got a good heart and great skill – at baking. Since childhood, he’s been on a quest to create the perfect bread to represent Japan internationally. Now, he seeks to enter the famous bakery Pantasia, in hopes of reaching his goal. But plots abound…

Blue Exorcist Season 1 Review

The story revolves around Rin Okumura, who, along with his younger twin Yukio Okumura, was raised by Father Shiro Fujimoto, an Exorcist. One day, Rin learns that he and Yukio are the sons of Satan. Witnessing Shiro dying to protect him, Rin draws the demon-slaying sword Kurikara (倶利伽羅), which restrains his demonic powers. From that moment on, Rin not only gains demonic features like fangs and a tail but also the power to ignite into blue flames that destroy almost anything they touch.

Rin wishes to become an Exorcist like his guardian to become stronger and to defeat Satan. He enrolls at the prestigious True Cross Academy (正十字学園 Sei Jūji Gakuen), an exorcist cram school, which is actually the Japanese branch of the True Cross Order (正十字騎士團), an international organization dedicated to protecting Assiah (human realm) from the Gehenna (demonic realm). Much to his surprise, Rin finds that Yukio is already a veteran Exorcist and is one of his teachers. Thus begins Rin’s journey to become an Exorcist, accompanied by his brother and his fellow students who quickly become his close friends.

Blue Exorcist (2011) OVA Review

Kuro searches for a new owner after Rin teases him by threatening to eat all of his food since cats have a high sensitivity to heat. Kuro searches for Father Fujimoto and along the way runs into Rin’s classmates, teachers, and friends. Kuro finds Father Fujimoto’s ghost sitting on his grave. Finally, Rin comes and apologizes for teasing him and they head home to the academy.

Music

Opening Theme

– “空 (Sora)” by Maki Ohguro (eps 1-18)
– “息もできない (Iki mo Dekinai) ~Now I can breath~” by ZARD (eps 19-36)
– “君さえいれば (Kimi Sae Ireba)” by DEEN (eps 37-52)

Closing Theme

– “青い空に出逢えた (Aoi Sora ni Deaeta)” by Arisa Tsujio (eps 1-20)
– “ミネラル (Mineral)” by Kaori Nanao (eps 21-36)
– “風のように自由 (Kaze no You ni Jiyuu; Free Like the Wind)” by Keiko Utoku (eps 37-52)

Credits

Photo

All images are copyright to their respective owners.

Photo by Nicolas LB, Jon Flobrant, and Yvette de Wit on Unsplash.

Close Menu