Sushi Police Anime and Tour

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The spider sushi roll with its fried "legs" (Photo courtesy of Mandy Bartok)
The spider sushi roll with its fried "legs" (Photo courtesy of Mandy Bartok)

Sushi Police Anime and Tour

by: Mandy Bartok | .
Japan Travel | .
published: June 29, 2016

In the past century, sushi has gone global, with the traditional Japanese food gaining a foothold in geographical locations as diverse as Buenos Aires, Berlin and America’s Midwest. But traditional techniques and preparations aren’t always adopted in these various locales, leading some Japanese to decry the rise of “bastardized” sushi and lament the lack of Japanese food traditions.

Out of this backlash, Sushi Police was born. This satirical anime pokes good-natured fun at both foreign takes on Japan’s beloved fish-based cuisine as well as the stubbornness of certain Japanese officials who want to legislate the taste preferences of sushi consumers. The show has produced 13 episodes (each five minutes in duration), most of which can be watched with subtitles in addition to their Japanese language track. A recent tour organized by both JTB and the anime studio allowed several lucky participants to not only see numerous episodes at once but also to indulge in some of the “forbidden sushi” unauthorized by the sushi police.  

The tour began at Numazu Kaitenzushi, a conveyor belt sushi restaurant a short walk from the Kyobashi and Ginza Itchome metro stations. The restaurant caters to a very diverse crowd and over 40% of their customers are foreign. While most of the plates on offer would meet the approval of the sushi police, our group was served two special “unapproved rolls” – a spider roll and a caterpillar roll. The spider roll combined perfectly-fried tempura soft shell crab with a zesty curry mayonnaise. The caterpillar role featured more familiar ingredients (avocado and imitation crab), but the chefs went the extra step in presentation by arranging the plates on the belt to represent the various segments of the aforementioned insect. While those two nontraditional rolls are not regularly featured on the restaurant’s menu, there were enough delicious-looking choices and affordable prices to warrant a return visit.

From Numazu Kaitenzushi, we proceeded to a small theater in central Ginza, where our group enjoyed a private screening of five Sushi Police episodes. Though the batch of episodes contained no subtitles, the short clips were entertaining and well-produced. Following the final clip, the audience enjoyed a discussion with both the director and one of the voice actors.

For the final portion of the tour, the participants were led to Tsukiji Market, arguably the most important food site for any fan of Japanese cuisine. Tsukiji Market’s main administrative building doubles as the headquarters of the sushi police in the animated series and from here, we were set free to begin our wanderings of Japan’s seafood “kitchen”. While most trading had wrapped up earlier in the day, there were no shortage of food and kitchenware stalls to explore in the outer market and most of Tsukiji’s well-regarded sushi restaurants still had customers queuing up for the catch of the day.  

Episodes of Sushi Police can be streamed on Google Play or Amazon Prime. Catch up on the action and decide for yourself on which side of the sushi debate you stand!

To learn more, visit the Sushi Police website as well as the Tokyo Location Guide English Homepage.

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