Ah, Labor Day. To some, this could mean the unofficial end of summer. To others, this could mean putting away our white-colored clothes because of some arbitrary fashion rule. Some others, either voluntarily or involuntarily, tend to take Labor Day quite literally. If this applies to you, why on earth are you reading this article; please go to your nearest Maternity Ward as quickly as possible. However, to me, a southern boy, the first Monday in September can only mean one thing. COOKOUTS! Yes, the Cookout is one of the most hallowed traditions of Labor Day. A time when friends and family get together, pig out, and enjoy each other’s company one last time under the Summer sun before Fall. This got me thinking: what if we here at Beneath the Tangles held our own Anime Labor Day Cookout? I posed this question to our dear editors and writers, and here is what we came up with!
One of the main rules of a cookout is having someone who actually knows how to freaking cook. There is a vast staple of culinary talent in the anime world, so let’s see who our crew decides to put behind the grill and why.
Laura A. Grace: If I’m attending the ultimate anime cookout, then having one of my all-time favorite characters there is a must! While I’ve never seen him cook, what better person to ask to cook up some burgers then Ace from One Piece?! Not only will we not need propane or charcoal, but no worries on anyone getting burned or the burgers overcooking! That of course works out for me because at least he shouldn’t get distracted from any fangirls trying to make conversations! Ooops I mean, friends making causal conversation with said favorite character. No big deal, right?
Josh: Preparing food at the cookout is a dang-near sacred duty and not one to be taken lightly. There are loads of culinary artists in the world of anime; Yukihira Soma from Food Wars, Rin Okumura from Blue Exorcist, Ryou Machiko from Gourmet Girl Graffiti…all good and talented chefs. However, I think we need to level up a bit. So for this cookout, I have got to invite who I consider to be the GOAT of all anime chefs: Francois from Dr. Stone. While we haven’t been introduced to them as of yet in the anime, their culinary performance in the manga is something to be revered. Not only can they throw down in the kitchen, but they can throw down in a STONE WORLD kitchen! NO modern conveniences, boys and girls! Just pure talent!
Samuru: When I saw Laura mention One Piece, I thought she was going to take the character I wanted to write about, but turns out she didn’t, so I will go ahead and do the honors: The greatest cook in the world of pirates is none other than Vinsmoke “Black Leg” Sanji! The head chef of the Straw Hat Pirates, he joined the crew early on and has fought alongside his captain in the toughest battles as well as cooking for the entire ship. He’s also a womanizer and is obsessed with Nami-swan, but hormones aside, the guy can make anything with even only a few ingredients available. His gourmet skills would make this cookout worth the price of admission!
Claire: Since everyone else’s guests have the mains covered, I’m going to invite someone to come mix us up a saiko-sugoi dessert course. Because dessert is a must to chase away the bitterness that threatens with the tail end of summer right? Now, I could play it safe and go with tried and true sweet masters like the cast of Deaimon, who I’m sure would dream up a stunning blend of traditional Kyoto confectionary with a suitably Labor Day-themed twist for the occasion. But I’m not going to play it safe. In fact, I’m going to deliberately play it dangerous and invite Takina from Lycoris Recoil in the hopes that she tops her outrageous(ly popular) hot chocolate parfait from Café LycoReco in terms of both largesse and inadvertent humor.
Who Are You Inviting (And What Are They Bringing?)
What good is a cookout if you don’t have friends and family to share it with? Time to invite some guests into our foray! But remember: it’s rude to come to a cookout empty-handed!
Laura A. Grace: Now, to maybe help soften the blow of me not choosing Sanji from One Piece as chef, I at least have to invite him to come to the cookout! He may not be flipping the burgers, but I would definitely ask him to make some homemade baked beans and mac ‘n’ cheese! I might even go as far as to ask if he can bring a special drink, since I’m plain and would just have soda or water.
Josh: I would invite Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion, and in violation of my own rule, he doesn’t really have to bring anything. “But KhakiBlueSocks,” I hear you asking from the other side of your keyboard. “Why would you bring Shinji to the Cookout? He’s such a downer and always so depressed.” First of all…you can call me Josh, we’re all friends here. Second, it’s BECAUSE he’s always a downer and depressed which is the exact reason WHY I’m bringing him! I’ve always said that the pilot of Evangelion Unit-01 could use a good meal, a big bear hug, and some friendly company. I’m sure he’ll find all that and more at this little get-together we’re having! I’m also going to extend an invite to Tsumugi, Kohei and Kotori from Sweetness and Lightning. Those three adorable dorks would be a joy to have around, and I’m sure every aunt, grandma and cousin would just LOVE Tsumugi!
Claire: You know what, I’m going to follow Josh’s compassionate footsteps and pick someone who I think really really needs to attend this cookout, in order to inject a bit of hope and community into her otherwise bleak life. The fact that she happens to have some of the worst eating habits I’ve seen and so could use a proper sit-down meal that doesn’t come wrapped in tinfoil or on the end of a wooden skewer is an added bonus. I’m talking about Kyoko from Madoka Magica! The Lone Snacker, Consumer of Pocky. And of course, she’ll bring apples.
Who’s NOT Invited? (But Might be Peering Over the Garden Fence)
Sadly you can’t invite EVERYBODY to the cookout. You got people who will want to eat up all the food and not contribute, those who complain about EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN, and people who just don’t bring the positive vibes to the affair! Who AIN’T getting in?
Samuru: Definitely will not be inviting Gourry Gabriev and Lina Inverse! If you’ve ever seen them in an inn, bar, or restaurant they eat everyone’s food, make a huge mess, fight over the chicken wings, and sometimes pass the bill along to someone else! They can certainly watch from afar, but grab the BBQ and run if Lina casts her powerful Dragon Slave attack!
Josh: I ain’t inviting Erina Nakiri from Food Wars, more out of concern for her own safety. You see, knowing how particular her palate is, and also how cutting her commentary can be when it comes to food, I REALLY don’t think it would be such a good idea to invite her to the Cookout. One wrong word to the wrong person and…hoo boy. I’m also not inviting Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece or Goku from Dragon Ball Z. We ain’t got that big a budget for those two.
Claire: I am not inviting Eren from Attack on Titan. He’d probably serve everyone wine spiked with his spinal fluid and turn us all into titans, aka giant naked destructive babies that would munch on the neighbors and guarantee we’d never be permitted to hold another cookout. Or he would use the cutlery to shift himself and upend the table, roaring around with what would be some pretty wicked halitosis after all that BBQ with hot sauce and totally spoiling the mood. The rest of the Survey Corps is most welcome though. Sasha, I got some extra potato salad for you, hon.
Who’s Gonna be the DJ (Or Musical Act?)
A cookout without music is just a dinner party: a very quiet dinner party. We gotta have someone on the 1’s and 2’s spinning the records.
Laura A. Grace: This may be just a backyard get-together, but it is also the ultimate anime cookout, and so we need to go alllllll out with making sure our girl EIKO and ya boy Kongming are there! Not only will the music be upbeat and fun, but we’ll probably even have an after-dance party because I know I won’t be ready to leave a free concert, er, I mean our anime cookout! Plus, maybe in between songs I can ask Kongming for some strategies to win the games being played? I guess that’s only if I don’t get distracted by EIKO’s singing and end up dancing instead!
Josh: See, when I think of Anime DJs, my thoughts immediately jump to Voice Actor and Convention DJ Greg Ayres. He’s an awesome mix master, and having him at this get-together would be prodigious! HOWEVER, this IS an ANIME cookout, and even though his hair can be as colorful as many anime characters, I’m gonna have to go a different route. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t have one of his CHARACTERS be a DJ! So, to that end, I’m picking Hideki from Nerima Daikon Brothers to be our Master of Ceremonies. He has strong hype-man energy, and I’m sure he can hold his own mixing songs!
Claire: My faithful colleagues have got the DJing sorted, so I’ll cast a little further afield and supplement the line-up with a musical act instead. Actually, I’m gonna pull a Josh here and break the rules by inviting two musical acts!! Haha! (Triumphant maniacal laughter) To welcome people into the cookout, we’ll have Reina and Kumiko and whoever else from the Sound!Euphonium band can self-fund their way over to the US, playing some jazzy marches as our guests strut up the drive with enough groove to own TikTok for five seconds. And for later in the evening when the fireflies are out, we’ll have Biwa and shirabyoshi dancer Gio from The Heike Story to lull us with their melancholy traditional rhythms, keeping harmony with summer’s final chorus of crickets.
What’s on the Playlist?
While we’re on the subject of music, we need to figure out what’s on the playlist. Songs like DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince’s “Summertime” or Frankie Beverly & Maze’s “Before I Let Go” are ubiquitous summertime cookout jams, but this is the ANIME cookout, so we gotta add a little otaku flavor, right?
Samuru: Did you say playlist? Well, if your talking about J-Pop I would highly recommend you throw on some m-flo. Tracks like Loop In My Heart, miss you, How You Like Me Now? – Sweet William Remix and Toxic Sweet have that summer vibe going. Crystal Kay has a track called Summer Fever which is certainly BBQ-worthy and Utada Hikaru’s Automatic has a nice bounce to it. Since I’ve already mentioned One Piece, I should also throw in Namie Amuro’s Fight Together which is opening #14 and has positive lyrics to encourage the gathering!
Josh: Okay, so as I mentioned earlier, I’m a Southern Boy, so there are some songs that are staples of the Cookout. Of course, I’m gonna make sure all of Frankie Beverly & Maze hits are on there. However, since this is an ANIME cookout, I gotta add some Japanese soul to the mix. I’m gonna toss in a few songs from Persona 5 like Last Surprise and Rivers in the Desert by Lyn, and then I’m gonna add in some recent bops like Daten by Creepy Nuts and Wildside by Ali. Pretty much, if I’ve sung it at max volume with the windows down in my Jeep, it’s on this playlist. Don’t judge me.
Claire: While the sun is high and hot, you want those pumping beats! But when evening comes and the stars start to peek out of a sky darkening to black, what you need is some seriously lo-fi chill music. So I’m adding Kayou.‘s entire back catalogue of lo-fi anime remixes, starting with the OP for Chainsaw Man, which remixes my favorite anime composer, Kensuke Ushio. But first, for when there’s more sunset than starlight in the heavens, we’ll ease into the chilled ambiance with Efryo’s insanely brilliant anime remixes. Seriously, check out the videos for these—they are truly masterful!
Who’s at the UNO Card Table?
Suffice it to say, when it comes to the cookout, some sort of card game has to be played. It’s the rule, I don’t make this stuff up. While there are a wide variety of card games out there like Spades, Pitty Pat, and Tycoon, Uno seems to be the one that everybody and their grandma knows how to play. So who are you bringing to the card table?
Laura A. Grace: It’s been a while since I’ve played UNO because the last time I played, I was obliviated by my husband and best friend in multiple rounds. I’m going to need a “partner” who can help keep me cheery instead of bemoaning my defeats, so of course Hinata from Haikyu!! must be one of the UNO players! I don’t foresee him not being competitive, but at least I know he’ll be saying “one more!” anytime I want to give up playing!
Samuru: If you want to beat everyone at the table, whether it be a clean game or cheating, you need the wild and crazy Yumeko Jabami from Kakegurui. Oh, you’d better believe something insane is about to happen at the card table, and I will be putting all my bets on her! She doesn’t have all the screws tightened in her head but she knows how to take calculated (well, not always) risks to win and will do whatever it takes to do so. UNO just went to another level!
Josh: When I think of who I would most want to bring to the UNO card table, I have to say, Yukino Miyazawa from His and Her Circumstances would be a prime candidate. Baby girl is from a family that plays the card game together fairly often, if the anime is to be believed. I think she would be an EXPERT to have at the card table, and I would love to play a couple of hands!
Claire: If we really want to kick UNO up a notch then we’re going to need a stand user, amiright?! High Melodrama at the Card Table, people! And since I’m pretty new to the Bizarre Adventures of the many inscrutable JoJos, I’ll go with the one I know best: Cujoh Jolyne. Ok, so I may need to break her out of prison first, but…maybe for the sake of UNO dominance we can arrange for a day pass for her??? Twwk, you got connections, right?
Eating Us Out of House & Home Joining Us!
And so there we have it! An anime cookout for the ages! While, yes, inviting fictional anime characters to a cookout does seem silly, I hope it inspires you to enjoy your real family and friends.
Romans 12:5 says “So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Remember that we are all, in Christ, one big family, each of us part of the greater worshiping whole, and as such, we need to be there for each other, through bad times, good times, and every time in between. Especially during the Cookout times.
So from me, Josh, and all the Beneath the Tangles team, Happy Labor Day, y’all.