A parody of high-tension reality cooking shows, Samurai Chef follows the events of several shows as the cooks competing against each other and the Chef himself become increasingly desperate. As the entrees prepared are rejected, the chefs turn to a mysterious substance that transforms their food stuffs into monstrous meals which battle with the Samurai, while in the background a rejected chef plots to regain the spotlight with his own team of cooks.
Overall, the Chef and his entourage mainly exist as parody or a knowing nod to shows like MasterChef, and don’t require much in the way of personality. Most of the others characters in this story are light on characterization, with important-seeming challengers brought in mid-way, yet quickly eliminated. The final conflict feels earned, however, through a solid development of the Samurai Chef’s main antagonist. This last team of challengers is an interesting choice, but it works well in the story. Additionally, each group of cooks has their own voice and look, with the visual designs a major aid in seasoning them with little bits characterization.
Much of the humor of this comic comes from the stoic responses of the Chef to the increasingly ridiculous circumstances he finds himself in. The combination of his silent actions alongside his announcer’s cheesy narration helps create the TV show atmosphere the comic is trying to mimic. The cut-aways to participant reactions, ranging from stunned to completely baffled add to the heightened sense of the proceedings. As the reader may be confused as well as to what is happening, it is nice to see the characters share this sentiment.
The strong manga style from Pinali is one of the main draws for this comic. Distinct visuals and cleanly paced fights make it clear that Samurai Chef was a joy to create. The crisp visuals add strong elements to all of the characters, giving each a unique look. The Samurai Chef himself stands out as a particularly impressive design.
In the end, Samurai Chef is a fun book that is a little light on some of the aspects that make for a longer running story. However, it doesn’t take itself or its premise too seriously, and it isn’t afraid to change things up to keep the reader interested.