Gourmet Girl Graffiti (Japanese name: Koufuku Graffiti) is one part cute-girls slice-of-life anime and one part an exploration of the role of food in social life and the joys of eating good food, mixed with some… very detailed depictions of eating food and just a bit of Studio SHAFT’s signature style. You can read my review of the show that I did last year, or just take my word that it’s a great show for anyone looking for a nice slice-of-life show about food.
One thing I like about the show is that the characters do go through some growth, showing that “slice-of-life” and “character development” need not be mutually exclusive, as well as providing the subject of this post. In this case, we have Kirin, second cousin to the primary cook of the show, Ryou, and who stays over at her house after the death of Ryou’s grandmother to ease her loneliness (food doesn’t taste good when you’re lonely). For much of the show, Ryou does all the cooking, while Kirin mainly just enjoys the food with her.
However, a friend of theirs, Shiina, calls Kirin out on this, saying that she just goofs off while Ryou does all the cooking and cleaning, and challenges her to cook for Ryou for once with a fish cookout at her house. Despite having no cooking experience, Kirin decides to take up the challenge, thinking of how happy Ryou might be eating food she made. And when the fish cookout turns out to be a success, Kirin starts trying to cook for Ryou a few more times. Ryou, for her part, finds it a bit hard to adjust to being the one cooked for at first–her personality is one that naturally leads her to being the caretaker, not the caretaken–but she does start to let herself rely on Kirin occasionally from then on.
The characters of Ryou and Kirin show two ways people’s personalities can lean. Some people are natural givers, who find it easy to find ways they can help others and doing things like cooking for people and assisting in various small tasks without needing to be asked to do so. Other people, though, are more naturally receivers, if not because of greed or blatant selfishness, then simply because helping out when not asked to do so just does not come naturally to them. And while there certainly are many natural givers in the world, I think it is safe to say that most people lean more toward naturally receiving than giving.
For those who are natural givers, learning to rely on others and become the receiver for once may be challenging, but can certainly be worthwhile. The simplest reason for a giver to become a receiver is to allow someone else to express their kindness through giving. More serious cases can exist, too, such as a giver in a co-dependent relationship with someone who only receives, or cases where a giver gets overworked; in any case, natural givers can usually benefit from allowing themselves to be given to every now and then.
However, if we are honest with ourselves, I believe most of us would consider ourselves natural receivers more than natural givers. The human flesh is naturally selfish and “receiving” is simply the default state for it, whereas “giving” usually requires some kind of effort. That might sound kind of damning, given how often we are told that it is better to give than to receive, but it is worth acknowledging the nature of our human flesh if we wish to overcome that nature in some way.
And Jesus did say that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), not to guilt people into giving more, but rather to highlight two things. One, giving is, for most people, going to go against their nature, because those things that are “more blessed” tend to be harder to do. Two, giving provides a special kind of joy that you cannot get from receiving, and will lead to a far more fulfilling life. Kirin finds this out herself as her cooking for Ryou brings the two of them closer together.
You don’t need to learn to cook to learn to be a giver; just start asking friends, family, or co-workers if there is anything you can do to help, and see where that takes you. Whether you are naturally a giver or a receiver, we can find our lives and relationships more enriched when there is both giving and receiving in the right portions. And if you are just hungry for some great food-themed anime… well, there’s plenty out there, but Gourmet Girl Graffiti is worth checking out if you want some cuteness and charm with your meal.