Netflix’s newest live-action series, Samurai Gourmet, shows that life can begin at any age, as it follows a newly retired man’s relationships with friends, family and above all, food.
Originally released in Japanese, the series is a live-action version of a fictional manga called Manga Nobushi-no-Gourmet. Naoto Takenaka stars as Takeshi Kasumi, a 60-year-old former businessman, who, upon entering retirement, finds himself left with too much free time. Searching for ways to fill the void left by his former job, Kasumi takes a walk in his neighborhood and decides to eat at an unfamiliar diner. Failing to resist the temptation of beer, he somewhat drunkenly realizes the extent of his newfound freedom, channeling his alter ego, the Wandering Samurai, while he consumes whatever foods and drinks he desires.
While the prospect of emotional eating raises eyebrows, our star’s existential crisis is not blocked out by food, but curbed. Kasumi, despite his old age, still displays symptoms of anxiety and self-consciousness. As he embarks on a journey toward delicious food, you witness how the qualities of his alter ego escape the boundaries of his fantasy — the reserved salary-man becomes more empowered with every bite he takes.
Takenaka excels in depicting an older person’s need for fulfillment — a common affliction — in such a whimsical manner. While Samurai Gourmet is overall light and easygoing, every episode of the series provides a lesson, as the show is filled with heartwarming scenes and apt, often soothing music. Watching the food on the show get prepared is almost as satisfying as Kasumi’s unabashed expressions after finishing a big meal.
Appearing as if it were shot through an Instagram filter, the show contains many fascinating sequences, quickly moving through scenes of an epic Samurai warrior and everyday life with impressive cinematography. While our main character’s daily adventures aren’t the most exciting, they provide an absurd, humorous twist to the genre. Most episodes emit nostalgic overtones, only heightened by the effects of food.
For a show centered on cuisine, the series has its surprisingly poignant moments. Eating is not simply for sustenance, but also a way for the most intimate thoughts to emerge. If you’re looking for a new show to binge-watch, check out Samurai Chef up next, but be warned: It will make you hungry.