Slice of life isn’t easy to write. Since they can’t rely on a strong, overarching plot, they need a strong hook at the beginning. The audience has to be invested in the characters to follow their daily lives every week. And it’s a tricky thing–it’s practically impossible to get someone interested in Aria or Hidamari Sketch unless we show them an actual episode.
When I resolved to watch Koufuku Graffiti, I had little expectations–there’s going to be food, and it’s going to be portrayed in a sensual (!) way, but what I got was something less racy and more heartwarming.
We’re first introduced to our protagonist, Ryou, cooking a meal for herself. The preparation alone is appetizing, and she cooks it with skill, but the actual dish turns out lacking. She can’t make it taste as good as she used to, when her grandmother was still alive. Immediately we know who Ryou is, what she wants, and why she can’t get it. She’s lonely, and the direction paints a mood of everything should be okay, but it somehow isn’t.
The moment of change happens when Ryou’s cousin Kirin begins her living arrangement in her flat. Having another person over forces Ryou to cook for someone else and taking their needs into account. In this episode’s case, Kirin has a cold, therefore Ryou has to cook her a hot, nourishing broth.
And Kirin loves it. This is where the conceit of the show comes into play: that cooking is much nicer when you do it for someone else. There is a dynamic between Ryou and Kirin–their conversations transcend typical cute girl talk, and they sound like actual cousins who don’t know each other very well. I see them as real people with hopes and dreams. The bed scene was emotional in just the right way, without crossing over into melodrama.
I got something different from what I was expecting, and it’s really good! And I didn’t realize SHAFT and Simbo were making this until I saw their names in the OP. (Also, hi Maaya x Rasmus Faber.) Now I kinda wish I bought volume 1 when I was in Japan…