26th Mar2021

‘Waffles and Mochi’ Review (Netflix)

by Rhys Payne

On March 21st it was ‘International Puppet Day’ which celebrated ventriloquists all over the world (don’t worry I didn’t know either!) and I have recently reignited my love for puppetry as an art form and how entertaining it can be done… if done right. Now I love the likes of Jeff Dunham and Avenue Q, which are more mature and controversial puppet-based acts, whereas the new Netflix show Waffles and Mochi is a more watered-down, classical child-friendly puppet show where best friends Waffles (who is half waffle, half yeti) and Mochi (based on the Japanese rice cake) who travel the world to find out about new foods to become chefs. The issue of reviewing shows that are intended for a younger audience is very difficult as I am not a young child! This means you have to review the show in two mindsets, one as an adult watching the show and reviewing it based on production-based elements and the other through the mind of a child who just wants to be entertained.

The first thing you will notice is the stars that make appearances in Waffles and Mochi, in particular one Michelle Obama. Michelle has become well known for her promotion of healthy eating campaigns for young people and so seeing her on this show not only makes sense (due to her recent projects) but also was a clever use of celebrity status to create a buzz about the show. Now was her acting the best I have ever seen… no … but did I constantly get a buzz every time she appeared on the screen… absolutely I did! I also found it quite funny how she referred to herself as Mrs O which did seem as if they were trying to pander to a more cool audience which becomes a bit tiresome after a while. The former First Lady would have been enough of a celebrity guest but this show contains so many more! We also saw Tan France (of Netflix’s Queer Eye) who had a ridiculous segment where he gave a potato a makeover, which is what he does on Queer Eye but normally to real people; delivering an uplifting message at the end of this scene was a nice little nod to the other show. We also saw Gaten Matarazzo who appeared towards the end of the series who appeared as an electrician in the shop both Waffles and Mochi work at. This led to a hilarious line where they talked about having never seen “stranger things” which a reference to the show that put Gaten’s name on the name which did have me chucking. Jack Black also appeared in an episode where he was tasting dumplings which was a reference to his involvement in Kung Fu Panda (which is one of my favourite films), which was a clever reference that would go way over students head but the parents watching would enjoy. One of the strangest celebrity cameos I have ever seen was Lionel Ritchie who also appeared on this show. In the final episode, Lionel appeared as one of Mochi’s favourite performers where he entered the episode by saying “Hello is it me you looking for?” which is a reference to his most famous song. He then delivered a rendition of this song which was such an unusual way to end the show!

Not only does Waffles and Mochi have a fantastic plethora of celebrity guest but also one of the best degrees of representation and diversity I have ever seen on a TV show. As Waffles and Mochi travel around the world, children are interviewed about the food they are investigating. These kids are from all over the world and speak in a range of national languages (which are dubbed after a delay) which not only is great for representation but also makes sense as the main characters are travelling the globe. This show also contains a great representation for deaf people as they have guests perform sign language as they are promoting “Mozeria” which is a pizza place that is entirely run by a team of deaf people. Promoting a business is always great but promoting a place that is doing great things for a community is fantastic for the business itself.

As discussed earlier, Waffles and Mochi is a show that is made for young children. This show is so wonderfully over-the-top and fits the almost “panto-esque” style that would entertain any young viewers. Firstly, one of the lead characters is a half-waffle and half yeti creature and the other is a talking rice cake. There are also talking shelves and store equipment, including a singing tomato who was modelled after Sia with a half-black and half-blonde hair. At one point after all the spices in the store are sold which resulted in the whole universe losing all its colour and becomes just black and white. While I understand the imagery of spice adding bright flavours to a dish like bright colours etc., I thought this was ridiculously over the top! The point of Waffles and Mochi researching new food is in an attempt to gain new badges from Mrs O. I was a little confused by these elements as the show started by talking about how the two characters want to become chefs but after a while, they were doing tasks to get a job in the store but instead get given badges. I know that children would not get confused by this but as a parent who is a fan of logic, I did find this somewhat difficult to follow. However, the rest of the staff in the store do wear similar badges which do make sense and tie the show together.

Overall, Waffles and Mochi is a fun show that is also incredible educational (I didn’t even know about salt ponds and how salt is harvested) which means that children will enjoy but also learn something new. They are only 30-minute episodes crammed full of almost sketches which represents a great sense of the diversity of people from all over the world! For a grumpy old person view, I would rate this show 3½ stars but I know young children will love it!

***½  3.5/5


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