Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Anime and Foodie Day for December

Fish and Chips Platter at Eggsmart
Tuesday December 4, 3:47 p.m.

Well, the mall Santas are out in force, the Xmas songs are blaring out, and I've started my shopping and sending out of cards. Must be the Yuletide, right? Someone forgot to tell the weather. Toronto didn't just break a temperature record.....the Big Smoke obliterated it like a phaser on full power. We got up to 16 C! Mind you, the temps are slowly but inexorably sliding now, but hey for December, this is practically Summer! Not really Xmas-y weather at all, but the joggers and, I suspect, most Torontonians are not complaining one iota.

Anyways, a couple of days ago, it was another anime and foodie outing with The Anime King. It's probably gonna be the final one for the year since most likely the 16th will be the dinner outing with the Anime Court, and then the King heads out for Japan and Vietnam for a vacation. We started out with a bit of brunch (breakfast for him) at Eggsmart. I'd already had my bacon and eggs back home, so I settled with the Fish n' Chips Platter. Not too bad...fish was a tad dry, though.

Back at the King's basement palace, we went through the latest of the "Yamato 2199" reboot. The first of the four episodes was basically a remake of the original contemplative episode following the ship's first major battle with the Gamelan gun base on Pluto. The crew made their final communications with family back on Earth, there was a celebratory party, and there was even a full reprise of the secondary theme song, "Bright Red Scarf". But unlike the original, there was quite a bit of fanservice, anime's version of cheesecake via the drunken nurse, Captain Okita actually widened his eyes, and there may be a love triangle of sorts forming amongst Kodai, Yuki and the ace female pilot, Yamamoto.

However, the highlight of the presentation was a show that The King has been raving about for the past few weeks: "Girls and Panzer". Over the past year I've been back in Canada, I've seen high school kids duking it out over supermarket lunches, a high school girl becoming the high priestess of a ghost-ridden temple, a family of orphaned teens involved in a mind-warping thriller with penguins, and teenage girls who become space pirates. "Girls and Panzer"is another one of those "Only in Japan"fantasies in which high school girls can choose to join tank crews in the same way that students can join the volleyball club or the band. This anime is the equivalent of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup: the anime otaku and the military otaku have found their Valhalla.

The video above is the opening scene from the pilot episode. I have to say that I was pretty impressed with the animation, and the details in the tanks. There is love in those studio hard drives. And the music brings back memories from just about every World War II epic made in the 60s: "Kelly's Heroes", "The Dirty Dozen" and even the TV sitcom, "Hogan's Heroes". Plus, there's the fact that the show has (at least) 22 characters....mind you, the five core girls are the ones that get the most characterization, but the fact that everyone gets seen at all in every half-hour is still something to be commended. And finally, I never thought I would ever hear a Donald Sutherland character get a shoutout in an episode.

Of course, all that viewing of tank battles can earn quite an appetite, so the King and I decided to drive out to Scarberia for dinner. We came across a modern strip mall underneath a condo around McNicoll and Midland where Toronto's only attempt at a Maid Cafe rose and fell several years ago. The restaurant there, Tasty Tasty, specializes in Szechuan BBQ, and came highly recommended by the King's brother.

We went with the large bowl of a soup called Fish with Salty Vegetables. Very savoury fare, and went well with the rice. However, the soup itself was much more on the sour side...quite a bit of vinegar in there. But it definitely made for a fine dish.

Of course, there was also our more conventional choice of Stir-Fried Bok Choy and Garlic. No less delicious, though. Both dishes were great on a much cooler night. Both the King and I were thinking about having the year-ender with the rest of the guys at Tasty Tasty, but there are plenty of other choices out there.