"Cooking isn't a sidequest"
You also have to cook all the recipes and turn the dishes in to get specific rewards at the end of the game for the 3 edit 4 types iirc. https://steamcommuni...88384141005113/
As for me I liked 2 considerably better than 1 minus the stratums in the final story dungeon which is a word I never want to see again describing a dungeon. I know the series tends to have large final dungeons but that one out lasted its welcome and was probably a small percentage of the games playtime on its own. It was nearly perfectly paced, wasn't bloated with forced side crap like the first game all the time and you had even more characters to utilize including ones like Towa, Sara, Angelica and others that were prettymuch temps in the original. Of course viability varied. Angelica was a really good one especially, towa not so much, sara is great especially since she has a self buff like angelica and other characters. Really the only minor tiff I had was that they segmented the dungeons to one visit a section and made you visit them 8 times or so and if you missed visiting it earlier in the game (which is easy to do with the earth dungeon by the military base iirc) then you can't visit it until much later in the story sadly. Honestly the game has probably the largest character roster next to radiata, chrono cross and the suikoden series bordering on ridiculous. It's a shame they aren't all balanced to be as viable though but I can't fault them when there's like 30 or so characters.
Biggest flaw was The divertissment section. Not having any carryover from the main game definitely hurts it the most. As if you had your sub quartz and such at least that could make up for these 2 new characters being so bad and not having a full party. Overall it should have been an optional section after the school house dungeon instead of sandwiched in between the final story dungeon and that. Also to give the player a break.
As for you beating the game 20 hours faster than the average yes that is highly suspect. I normally don't resort to hltb since it's not always a reliable source for data. But the length of the games is not exaggerated usually averaging around 60 hours. I also think you may not have played the original release and thus by playing the enhanced version you have access to the speed up options not available to the original ps3/vita versions so by not having that as a comparison is throwing you off. On top of skipping animations as I didn't do that much so in 1. By 2 I skipped all animations though besides any new ones.