I don’t put much stock in the idea that human beings are capable of observing objective truths about the universe at large; however, I think we can at least depend on macro-observations about our own species to develop a sense of self. It’s pretty clear that all of our most basic instincts as life forms exist in the name of propagating life–whether that be ensuring our own continued livelihood, or furthering the livelihood of our species. Likewise, our instincts are wired to keep us away from death–or anything which might bring us closer towards it. Ergo, I think it’s pretty safe to say that for human beings, life is good, and death is evil. How we interpret life and death may vary depending on the individual, but I think that the drive to live and to not die makes up the foundation for everything that we do as a species.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that the greatest pleasures we feel as individuals tend to come from the feelings that we’ve continued the livelihood of ourselves or of our species. Again, what we interpret as helpful may range wildly from person to person; but whatever gives us the feelings of having continued with life is what gives us the most potent sensation of happiness. It’s for this reason that some of our most basic, primal pleasures come from sex and from consumption.
Everything that we consume, we do so in the hopes of making ourselves more powerful, whether we realize it or not. We obviously eat and drink because it directly correlates to keeping us alive, but we also consume media and ideas because they strengthen us mentally. Even if all we get out of media is that it makes us happy, the sensation of happiness is one which helps us to continue living–as we can more easily deal with our surroundings and feel the drive to go on living if we’re feeling happy. This is why human beings are constantly seeking out things which make us happy, and avoiding things which make us unhappy.
Sex is really the best of both worlds. Not only is it the method by which we continue the existence of our species, but it’s also one of the best-feeling and most gratifying actions which we are capable of performing on a day-to-day basis. Sex and consumption are really the only things which I think that nearly every member of our species can take pleasure in. It’s not surprising that we have a tendency to combine them a lot as well; not just in the way of kinky chocolate-covered lovemaking, but also in the simple ways that dating and eating tend to go hand in hand, or in that having the money to buy or ability to make food are sought after traits in a partner.
So all of this at last brings us to Koufuku Graffiti–a show about food which has what at first seems like an oddly sexual slant to it. Even though the entire show centers around cute girls just hanging out and having fun cooking and eating together, whenever the girls actually start eating, it suddenly becomes strangely erotic.
Gourmet Girl Graffiti is not actually the first nor the only anime or manga series to romanticize or sexualize eating in this way. In fact, the shounen cooking manga Shokugeki no Soma is getting adapted into animation next season, and is known for its even more blatantly sexual reactions to the taste of food. I’ll definitely be looking out for that show when it drops, but I’m also interested in Koufuku Graffiti for bringing this element to the type of show that it is.
After all, Koufuku Graffiti is comfy slice-of-life fare in its purest essence. The narrative is entirely defined by the day-to-day interactions of its characters; and the focus on food only comes as a natural extension of Ryou Machiko’s love for having others eat her cooking, combined with Kirin Morino’s love for eating Ryou’s cooking. Cooking and eating is not put into a competitive or career-driven context in this series; Ryou and Kirin are both art students in high school, and no one has mentioned anything about becoming a professional chef. Food, in all of its glory, is merely treated as the day-to-day pleasure that it is for most people in reality.
Outside of eating, Koufuku Graffiti couldn’t be less sexual if it tried. The main characters are three girls who are never shown interacting with the opposite gender, and while their bonds of friendship do border heavily into the range of my yuri goggles, it’s never openly suggested that any of them have any sexual interest in anyone. There isn’t any sexual fanservice outside of the vaguely erotic scenes of eating, nor any kinds of blatant innuendo. The show would be completely innocent if not for those erotic eating scenes–which says a lot about the way that we interpret eating as viewers.
After all, what is inherently erotic about these scenes? It really is just highly-detailed images of girl’s eating. It’s not like they’re eating phallic objects or fellating bananas and popsicles as tends to happen in actual fanservice-driven shows–so what does it say about us as audience members that we interpret this as erotic?
Mostly, that food and sex occupy a very similar place in our minds. After all, if you conjure a mental image of “decadence,” you probably imagine some fat Grecian king surrounded by naked women dropping grapes into his mouth or something. We always hear desserts described as “indulgent,” which is also how we describe masturbation. Our basic ideas of pleasure are so heavily tied to sex and food, that sometimes, one can look like the other. There’s a reason that every subreddit is called “something porn;” and that “food porn” was the original. I’m sure I’ve heard the phrase, “like an orgasm in my mouth,” more times than I can count, and I don’t think I’ve heard any other experiences compared to orgasms nearly as often.
So that, I think, is why Koufuku Graffiti seems so erotic; and I think that it works well in the context of a show which isn’t outright sexual in any other way. It’s a slice of life series which captures some of life’s most basic pleasures by magnifying and combining them. After all, what better way is there to convey the ways in which eating can be the most pleasurable part of your day, than by comparing it to sex? It’s certainly more immersive than characters just smiling really big and shouting “umai!” until we get the point.
If you’re watching Koufuku Graffiti, then what do you think of its combination of food and sex? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, if you enjoy my content and want to help to support my channel, then consider becoming a patron or donating via paypal by following the links below. Thanks again for watching, and I’ll see you in the next one!