A young man named Akiyama Tokuzo cannot find his passion for living. One day he tasted meat cutlet for the first time and have been absorbed to learn about Western style cuisine. He set out... See full summary »
When most Westerners think of Japanese historical dramas, they usually think of samurai tales like "47 Ronin" or Akira Kurosawa's films. "The Emperor's Cook" (or "Tenno No Ryoban") is therefore not your typical period piece. Instead of samurai, the main character is a chef named Tokuzo Akiyama. Akiyama is famous in Japanese culinary history for his innovative cooking style and strong French culinary background (he spent over five years in Paris studying under the renowned chef Auguste Escoffier). He was then appointed to be the Master chef for the Japanese Imperial household at the age of 26, where he would go on to have a long and distinguished career.
Akiyama's life is beautifully portrayed in "Emperor's Chef." While the storyline itself contains family themes that are common in other Japanese dramas (especially the NHK Taiga dramas), what makes "Emperor's Chef" memorable is the emotional journey of its main character. In the course of the series, Akiyama slowly transforms from a listless juvenile into a devoted servant of "Okami" (the Emperor). While often stumbling - and at times failing - through turbulent periods in his life, Akiyama never gives up his dream to be the best chef in Japan. And at critical times in his life, Akiyama's friends and family provide him with important love and support - and a little bit of humor.
In addiction to its powerful story and acting, "The Emperor's Chef" also benefits from fine costuming, location settings (scenes were filmed in Paris as well as in Japan), and music. The end credit theme song may sound a little bit karaoke-ish at first, but the translated lyrics reveal an eloquent and touching reflection on love and the power of dreams.
In sum, "The Emperor's Chef" is a fascinating and equally moving historical drama. It is unfortunate therefore that many Western viewers will not be able to view this drama without doing a considerable amount of digging around the Internet. But those who are fortunate enough to view this drama online or wherever will be treated to a poignant and memorable story.