Image source: YouTube user pep anime
Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan, or Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family, is a spin-off series of the popular Fates franchise, specifically Type-Moon’s Fate/stay night. With beloved characters, such as Sabre (Artoria) and Shirou Emiya, it’s easy to be hesitant about a spin-off’s quality and portrayal of said characters. Luckily enough, Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family is a heartwarming alternate universe (AU) that pays a loving tribute to these characters with a simple, delicious premise and incredible art and animation.
Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family began as a manga series written and illustrated by Taa, which was serialized with Kadokawa. When the series was adapted by Ufotable the thirteen episodes were aired between January 25, 2019 and January 1, 2019, with each episode averaging around thirteen minutes. The entire premise of the series follows Emiya’s day-to-day routine as he interacts with his friends and family, and decides which dishes to create and serve. Each episode is titled after the dish Emiya decides to highlight, such as tokiskoshi soba (New Year’s Eve soba) or sake to kinokono bataa hoiruyaki (foil-baked buttered salmon and mushrooms) of the first and second episodes. It’s beginner-friendly for those who aren’t privy to Japanese cuisine, as ingredient descriptions and cooking techniques are thoroughly explained.
The first episode introduces viewers to Fuyuki City as well as the palette that the animation will follow throughout the series. Its vibrant pastels and soft lines caught my attention immediately. If it were possible to take a series and frame it on a wall, I would choose this series. Or, if my life were animated, I would choose these colors and style. The characters designs are also a bit different, with the characters having larger eyes and more rounded off faces. The color palettes also match that of the landscapes (e.g. soft and pastel) with characters being a more cutesy version of themselves. Characters such as Emiya and Sabre are out of the gear usually seen in Fate/stay night and are instead in relaxed, casual clothing.
The tone is calm and playful, which also carries on throughout the series. Even the opening (OP) song is inviting and upbeat. It makes any viewer wish they could join Emiya and the gang to enjoy these delicacies with them. The ending (ED) song of the anime reinforces this feeling with its bittersweet song, as we say our temporary good-bye to this cast until the next “day” (episode) where we can eat and spend time with each other again. It is also heartwarming to see these characters in situations that aren’t so dire (or life-threatening.) However, this is definitely not the series to experience what Fate/stay night, or the Fate series, in general, is all about. This is for the viewers who are already familiar with Fate and wish to view the cast in a more lighthearted way. This is also not for the viewers who aren’t interested in the slice-of-life genre as, again, this is arguably a (beautifully) rendered cooking show, and a slow-paced portrayal of everyday life.
While this series isn’t thrilling, I felt such warmth and love from this series. Feeding your family and friends is such a tender expression of love, and watching this act with careful presentation in each episode made me reflect on my own loved ones and appreciate their love for me. Towards the end of the first episode, Emiya alludes to this connection food brings in his conversation with Sabre as he explains the reason we eat soba is “so that we can be near each other forever.”
Despite it being a spin-off series, Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family stands out in its own right with its simple premise and exquisite art. For those already acquainted with the Fate series, it helps deepen our love for our favorite characters and wish this were instead the reality for each of them. This series will encourage you to seek out your family and friends to express your love; and hopefully, it will even inspire you to whip them up a nice meal as well.