ANIME REVIEW | An Indifferent Taste For Ramen With "Ms. Koizumi"
There are moments where I find myself asking a simple question that lacks a coherent answer: Why am I watching this anime? Often, they can be shows that look appealing to the eye, but don't deliver well with their means of storytelling or character development. In the case of Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles, there appears to be no sign of a good enough reason for why I should tune in each week a new episode airs. Yet there I go every Thursday afternoon and pressing the play button when it does appear in my queue. Why is that, brain of mine?
Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles doesn't have much of a story. Its titular character (Ayana Taketatsu) ventures off from school or on her days off towards a ramen shop, plops herself down, and eats said ramen. That's it. Sometimes the stalker-ish character Yū (Ayane Sakura) tags along, or the jealous twin-tailed Misa (Akari Kitō) or class rep Jun (Yumi Hara) find themselves sitting on the stool next to Koizumi, relishing the taste of the ramen featured in that segment. But other than that, there's legit nothing here regarding character progression or telling some sort of legit plot to push these characters together.
What this anime does well surprisingly is be educational about its subject matter. Throughout these episodes, Koizumi often spouts about ramen origin stories, what makes each bowl unique, and even dives into the aesthetics of what makes it such an elaborate-yet-simple dish. Dare I say, I wanted to try practically every bowl of ramen that goes into Koizumi's belly after learning all about it (expect for the spicy stuff, due to my sensitive taste buds). But other than these educational aspects, there really isn't much that Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles delivers this season compared to other shows.
But does that make this a bad anime? To be honest: I don't really know. There must be something about this show that has me coming back each episode to watch. I know it's not because of the one-dimensional characters, nor is it because I'm enticed by the dialogue of the show. However, after watching the most recent episode and salivating over the ramen and gyoza dishes, it clicked. As bottom-of-the-barrel of a reason it is, there's only one reason why I find myself tuning in to Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles every week: because it fills my food porn quota.
Every season, there's an anime that delivers the most tasty-looking food that one can't take their eyes off of. In many cases, they come with a side of a great story (Food Wars!) or even an interesting world built around the dishes (Restaurant to Another World). Unfortunately, this anime offers a sort candy that only quenches these hungry eyes of mine. Its value to my brain is the equivalent of the most lewd of dojins or even hentai. You don't come to Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles for a story or some deep meaning; you come just to look at how sexy the food is.
Perhaps that's what makes it such a testament to what both Studio Gokumi (Kin-Iro Mosaic, Tsuredure Children) and AXsiZ (Seiren) were able to accomplish with the attention to detail in each dish showcased. The ramen cuisines that are flashed on the screens look so tantalizing, that one would be a fool not to try to break their TVs just to get a taste of them. Sadly, the same can't be said about the characters and the settings they're placed in, which lack a sort of originality in their appearance. It's not that they're bad looking in the least bit; it's just that they're rather generic.
The cast of Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles can be a mixed bag. Taketatsu's performance in the title role is rather deadpan, but it does push out an extra dose of humor whenever she turns down a friend's request to hang or when explaining about a ramen dish. There's a cute factor in Hara's portrayal as Jun, especially when she has to reveal her reason for not eating Koizumi's favorite dish in public. But man, are Sakura and Kitō's take on Yū and Misa borderline annoying, with the former being too whiny and the latter going full-on bitch mode all the time.
Shin'ichi Hosono and Takashi Tanaka's score is also hit-or-miss, with the more surfer-rock sounds pepping up the so-called action happening onscreen. Slower scenes have a backing soundtrack that isn't particular great, but it's not exactly bad either. (Again, it's simply generic.) It's the opening and closing themes where the show's musical aspect hit their stride, with Minori Suzuki's "FEELING AROUND" giving off a solid '80s new wave pop vibe that makes it all the more enjoyable to listen to each time. Shiina Nishizawa's "Love Men Holic" closer is also one catchy ear bug, one that stays far longer with you than whatever the hell happened on that week's show.
So why do I feel the need to watch Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles? After spending the last ten weeks watching it (and more than likely spending the next couple finishing it), I can't tell you why. It's not a good show by any means, but it satisfy my mental taste buds in some way. Odds are I will more than likely forget about this show in the long run, what with the second half of Food Wars!'s third season coming in the next couple weeks. But until then, keep those delicious noodle bowls coming my way.
Final Grade (not an average):