Tag Archives: food

What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 6-9

Kenji and Shiro continue on their journey of discovery and acceptance as Shiro leans  why Kenji fell for him, Kenji finally meets Shiro’s parents, they take a vacation to Kyoto together, and the pains of parents and themselves growing old sneak up on them. And through it all, Shiro continues to cook inventive yet simple-to-make dishes as well as adding new ones to his repertoire.

Continue reading What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 6-9

What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 4-5

Shiro turns down an offer to become a celebrity and Kenji’s culinary adventures are reprised. Accomplished home chef though he may be, Shiro proceeds on the assumption that no two of his curries will ever taste the same in a manga about a gay couple for mature–in the true sense–readers.

What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 4-5
What did you eat yesterday 4By Fumi Yoshinaga
Publisher: Vertical Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Cooking/Slice of Life
Price: $12.95
Rating: ★★★★½

What Did You Eat Yesterday? continues to follow the lives and menus of two gay men, Shiro and Kenji. These volumes expand more on their personal lives served up with a staggering menu of dishes such as bean rice, horse mackerel tataki, hamburgers in mushroom sauce and caramel-simmered apples on toast.

Shiro, the cook and penny-pincher of the pair gets pulled into personal problems with his co-workers and friends with the temptation of free food. It seems like a good deal at the start, but there is always a catch, and seeing Shiro’s reaction, usually internal is always funny. But even though he has to listen to his boss complain about her daughter-in-law, or his female friend Kayoko’s husband butt into their daughter’s life. Shiro also gets a nemesis; a checker at his favorite grocery store who always finds a way to own him, but helps him at the same time. I loved that he got one that was so dead-panned and oblivious to Shiro’s dismay.

What Did You Eat Yesterday v5These volumes also brought in more gay couples for Shiro and Kenji to interact with. Tetsu and Yoshi are a couple who don’t live together but have been together for a long time. Yoshi is the owner of several restaurants, so Shiro is put on the spot when he has to cook for them. Through Kayoko, they also meet Daisaku and Wataru, a couple more like them. It was really interesting watching the interactions between the couples. Shiro, who one would think would be more comfortable with other homosexual couples, was just as uptight, and afraid of being out. Going to a jewelry store to get matching rings for them nearly kills Shiro from the stress. But knowing when someone is gay can be useful as it helps Shiro get out of a difficult situation where he was being pressured to appear on TV.

Dealing with family doesn’t improve much though. A glimpse of Kenji’s home life growing up is given as the tells Shiro about his mostly absent father. But Shiro going home for New Years was the best. It was like a ticking time bomb as Shiro and his mother got on too well before it exploded into usual shouting match about Shiro not being proud of his gayness. It was great, with every page turn, just wondering when Shiro’s mother would finally say something. It was so funny when it finally came out.

The food making was in full swing through these volumes, sometimes even playing a part in the story. Shiro really stressed out over what to make for the dinner party with Yoshi and Tetsu. When Shiro and Kenji have a fight, it’s Kenji who gets Shiro to relax again by asking for a specific meal for dinner. And when he has a particularly difficult day at work, he takes it out on dinner, with lots of chopping and a few servings too many being made. While I can still do without the long-winded food commentary, I did enjoy it being pulled into the story more and not feeling so tacked on.

What Did You Eat Yesterday? remains a fun slice of life. Shiro and Kenji continue to deal with problems anyone of any orientation can relate to, while also sharing more insights into gay relationships. This series is relaxing and a real pleasure to read.

What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 1

Shiro Kakei, lawyer by day and gourmand by night, lives with his boyfriend, Kenji Yabuki, an outgoing salon stylist. While the pair navigate the personal and professional minefields of modern gay live, Kenji serves as enthusiastic taste-tester for Shiro’s wide and varied made-from-scratch meals.

What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 1
What did you eat yesterdayBy Fumi Yoshinaga
Publisher: Vertical, Inc.
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Cooking/Slice of Life
Price: $12.95US
Rating: ★★★★½

Fumi Yoshinaga is best known here in the US for her BL titles, but any porn that might be found in What Did You Eat Yesterday? will only be in the kitchen. Yoshinaga is also a big food enthusiast, and this title combines her love of preparing (and eating) food with the life situations of a gay couple. While at first appearance, this title is a foodie’s dream come true, there is still plenty of story to make the book interesting to us non-foodies.

What Did You Eat Yesterday? starts with that very question being asked of Shiro and his co-workers. While the others are vague with their answer, Shiro recites a long list of dishes including ingredients. This is the first sign, other than the title, that food will be a big part of the story. Yoshinaga doesn’t disappoint as every chapter has at least 3-4 pages dedicated to Shiro planning and preparing the nightly meal. No detail is spared as Shiro’s internal monologue catalogs the ingredients, how they should be cut, how long they are cooks or boiled and even at what temperature. If quantities were included, this part of the story could be a how-to instruction for cooking many of the meals. I’ll come out and say this right now, these parts of the book were the ones I found the most uninteresting. I’m not foodie, and never will be. Watching people cook doesn’t interest me, and didn’t even stir my appetite, so if they were cut down to one panel, or even cut out, it wouldn’t bother me.

But to Yoshinaga’s credit, these scenes could be condensed or cut out and the story wouldn’t really suffer. Shiro’s and Kenji’s relationship is really the heart of the series, and the part I thoroughly enjoyed. Each chapter looks at the daily life of Shiro or Kenji, at their job interacting with co-workers or clients, or friends and family. It’s through these interactions that we get to know them. Shiro is the serious and straight-laced half of the relationship. He hasn’t told his co-workers about his sexual orientation, and keeps them at a distance with regards to his personal life. He doesn’t like anyone, including Kenji to talk about it to anyone else. He is very frugal with both his money and his emotions. This helps him in his job, but can cause problems at home.

In contrast, Kenji is very open about his feelings. He is gregarious with his clients and is the “bomb disposal specialist” for the shop he works for, his tenacity giving him the ability to take on the more difficult customers. He is also the more insecure of the two, worrying that Shiro might be attracted to a client and being jealous of Shiro’s former girlfriend who now runs a bakery. He isn’t afraid to show his emotions, from joy to breaking down into tears.

The supporting characters are just as fun and eccentric as you’d expect from a Yoshinanga series. Shiro’s mother is just plain crazy as she tries to be accepting of Shiro’s orientation, but ends up driving him nuts. The introduction of Kayoko, Shiro’s straight female friend was really funny, and she makes a great cooking buddy for Shiro. I also really like Shiro’s co-workers. Kenji’s boss and co-workers haven’t done too much in this first volume, but Kenji taking on the difficult customers was really funny.

I love Yoshinaga’s art. He draws her characters realistically in a minimalist way, but can easily and quickly drop them in a caricature with wide, long faces that get these great expressions. She gets the feeling across of surprise or  impishness with little more than a look.

What Did You Eat Yesterday? is starting out to be a really fun series. This first volume has lots of great moments of humor and realistic relationship issues that anyone gay or straight can understand and relate to, but at the same time also show some of the things that only gay couples would have to deal with. I really enjoyed this series, and if you’re not reading it, or passing it by because you think it’s BL or too foodie, then you’re making a big mistake.

Review copy provided by publisher.

The Drops of God: New World

Zooming ahead to a story arc that presents New World wines for a New World audience, this special episode of the international best-seller features scenes set in Napa Valley and labels from outside the traditional European production centers. Delectable on its own too, the Apostle revealed is the lucky Seventh.

Drops of God 5Story by Tadashi Agi; Art by Shu Okimoto
Publisher: Vertical, Inc.
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Food/Drama
ISBN: 9781935654520
Price: $14.95
Rating: ★★★★☆

The Drops of God takes a huge leap in time, as the last US volume covered Japanese volumes 7-8, this one covers volumes 22-23, and reveals the 7th Apostle. The last Apostle revealed was the second in US volume 3. This is a big risk, as so much of the story is skipped. But New World is dedicated solely to finding the identity of the Seventh Apostle, so many of the side stories that I enjoyed so much in volume 3 are not present in this volume. At  first, I thought this to be a liability for the volume, but by the time I reached the end, I realized again how good this title really was, and lamented that we will probably not see any more.

This special volume of Drops of God moves Issei and Shizuku out of Europe and into the New World. Of course, New World in wine circles basically means anywhere outside of the traditional European wine-making countries. This mean North and South America and Asia. That’s a lot of area to cover with not much time. Issei had straight to the United States, to Napa Valley, with Shizuku, after some consideration (which didn’t include Napa wines) heads for Australia.

While in their respective countries, both Issei and Shizuku have run-ins with the locals. Issei’s reputation precedes him as he is blackmailed into helping some crooked wine sellers at a blind auction. Thanks to his assistant Loulan’s quick thinking, his reputation escapes unscathed. Shizuku has a run-in with the environmentalist father of Nadia Simon an employee of Taiyo Beers’ Australian brand. Shizuku’s sharp nose helps Jack Simon save his ecovillage Emerald Forest. This meeting turns out to fateful to Shizuku, as Jack met his father when he was in Australia 15 years previously. It’s this meeting that makes Shizuku sure he made the right choice. Issei has a fateful meeting as well, which makes him just as sure.  The outcome leaves Shizuku with a lot to think about.

At first, I wasn’t thrilled with this volume, mostly because I don’t like Issei. At the beginning of the series he was very haughty and looked down on Shizuku as a potential rival. His whole attitude made you want to cheer on Shizuku all that much more. At the beginning of this volume it seemed that not much had changed. He was still the stoic professional. But as the volume went on, there did seem to be a subtle change in his character. He has an assistant, a protegé of sorts that goes with him to Napa. Issei seems more thoughtful now, and by the end seemed a little more humble from what he learned of the people who created Napa Valley. It’s a growth in character that he desperately needed. Maki hasn’t learned anything yet, so it was gratifying to see her unrewarded by Issei for her taunts.

For Shizuku, the search for the Seventh Apostle was more than just a search for wine or gaining an inheritance. It was a journey to reconnect with his father by walking in the same places he did, and visiting the vineyard he spent a lot of time watching. He even imagines he sees his father for an instant in the fields when he visits. Shizuku spent so much time resenting his father for his passion, but by the end of this volume realizes he feels the same about wine. His father’s passion is becoming his own.

While Drops of God is fun for the wildly fantastic descriptions given for the wines, this is really a story about sons and their father, gaining insights into not just their father, but also themselves. It really feels that the competition to find the Apostles is just a cover for Issei and Shizuku’s father to continue teaching them, and helping them grow both as wine enthusiasts and as people. No matter who wins in the end, both Shizuku and Issei will have gained much more than any material wealth or recognition could give them. And this is what I am going to really miss being able to read. Drops of God hasn’t been the seller that Vertical hoped it would be, so this will most likely be the last volume we see printed in English, which really is a shame. A story with this much growth and depth of character needs to be read by more people. While I still find the wine terms intimidating, the human drama trumps any discomfort I might feel. Drops of God is a series that deserves more recognition than it’s gotten, and there will only be regret when it is no longer released.

Neko Ramen Volume 1

Taisho was a former kitten model, who ran away from home and had a hard life on the streets…until the day he was saved by a kind ramen shop owner who later served as his mentor. Now Taisho takes pride in his noodles…and is easily angered when customers are dissatisfied! So step aside, Soup Nazi – there’s a new cat in town!

Continue reading Neko Ramen Volume 1

Oishinbo A la Carte Volume 1: Japanese Cuisine: Manga Movable Feast

Japanese Cuisine introduces us to the fundamental ingredients–rice, sashimi, green tea, and dashi (cooking stock)–that constitute the soul of the Japanese kitchen. In each story we learn about the proper preparation and presentation of different dishes, as well as their history and cultural significance. The result is a moveable feast of a book, as informative as it is engaging.

Continue reading Oishinbo A la Carte Volume 1: Japanese Cuisine: Manga Movable Feast

The Drops of God Volume 3: Manga Movable Feast

The first of the heaven-sent bottles is revealed in these pages. No less gripping: the dramas of memory that unfold as Shizuku helps out an amnesiac painter, Chosuke hears from the French lady of his unrequited longings, and Miyabi meets a former classmate turned newly-rich snob for whom wires are but brands.

Continue reading The Drops of God Volume 3: Manga Movable Feast

This Week in Manga: 11/20-11/26/10

What with Thanksgiving being this week, it seems the mangasphere has taken the week off, so it’s going to be a short edition of the news. So we’ve got shopping advice, eating until you explode, OOP and doujinshi digital manga in Japan, podcasts and the Manga Village roundup, all after the bread…err…break.

Continue reading This Week in Manga: 11/20-11/26/10

Thanks for the Food!

Thanksgiving is a traditionally US holiday. It’s a harvest festival that has roots in a religious celebrations of family, friends and a bountiful harvest. It has since moved away from those beginnings, and today, Thanksgiving is seen as a time for families to get together, to eat lots of turkey, and to watch football. If you’re not into all of that, but still want the day to have a Thanksgiving feel, here are some manga that can put you into that Turkey-Day mood.

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Bread is a staple of most American meals, so no Thanksgiving can be complete without some hot rolls. And of course, there’s the stuffing for the turkey, and the weeks of turkey sandwiches afterwards. So we start with Yakitate! Japan, a battle manga about bread. Kazuma Azuma wants to create the national bread of Japan. The series starts with him going to Tokyo to work at Pantasia, and then follows his exploits with his co-workers. originally, Yakitate!! Japan explains a lot about bread making the baking industry, but as the series goes on, it gets heavily into gags, especially puns, of which the title is included.

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There are plenty of dishes to go with the main course at a Thanksgiving dinner. Finding the right combinations for a family isn’t easy. In the world of Hunter x Hunter, Hunters are people who specialize in finding rare and/or difficult things. One such Hunter is the Gourmet Hunter, who specializes in rare ingredients to create a special meal. Gon, the protagonist of this title, as part of his Hunter exam, must satisfy two Gourmet Hunters in order to move on. This turns out to not be easy, as they are very picky, but Gon and his friends to finally succeed. This part of the exam can be found in Volume 2

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The main course, is of course, the turkey, whether it’s roasted or fried, or however else you like to cook your turkey, no Thanksgiving can really be complete with that golden bird on the table. Toriko is another title that goes for the meat. Toriko is a Gourmet Hunter in the same vein as Hunter x Hunter. In his world, gourmet food is all the rage, and hunting the best and most rare beasts is left to Hunter like him. Toriko himself is also after the ultimate dinner course with only the best of the best ingredients making it up. Komatsu, a timid chef joins Toriko in his hunts and search for perfect ingredients. This title is very over-the-top, with lots of time spent eating, sometimes leaving the characters in an overstuffed stupor, also a common occurrence at Thanksgiving.

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If you’re not into the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, there are other options. Oishinbo is about Shiro Yamaoka’s search for the ultimate menu for the 100th anniversary of Tozai News newspaper. In the a la carte series Viz released, you can enjoy Japanese Cuisine, Fish, Shrimp and Sashimi, Ramen, Rice and even Saki. There lots of different dishes in each volume, and the stories present them in a way that makes learning about the food and it’s preparation interesting. Yamaoka is a great character to follow, though the battles with his father can be a little tedious, the dishes they feature more than make up for it.

For dessert, check out my Themed Manga post Trick or Treat and scroll down to check out titles Antique Bakery and Kitchen Princess, both of which feature lots of pies and cakes to finish off your Thanksgiving feast.

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Now that you’ve stuffed yourself and are in a Turkey coma, it’s time to move on to the other Thanksgiving tradition; football. There’s only one manga that can satisfy this need; Eyeshield 21. It’s about Sena Kobayakawa, who after entering Diemon Private Senior High School, is spotted by the captain of the American Football team, Yoichi Himura. He isn’t big or power, but he is fast and agile, skills that land him as the teams running back. Because Yoichi is afraid some other team might try to recruit him away, he has Sena wear a helmet with a green-tinted eyeshield, so no one will be able to see his face. The Diemon team then goes on to face several different school teams as they struggle to go to the Spring and then Fall tournaments. The teams are a little wacky, with plays that sound more like shonen attacks, but the series is a lot of fun, and if you keep from taking the sport too seriously, you will really enjoy this title.

So, whether you enjoy Thanksgiving for the food and family, or are just spending a quiet night at home, this list will hopefully get you through the day.

Mixed Vegetables Volume 7

Leaving her internship at Sushi Hyuga to go on her family’s annual trip to France is the last thing Hanayu wants to do. On the other hand, a pastry-research trip in Europe is Hayato’s idea of a dream come true–can the two aspiring chefs ever catch a break? Plus, Hayato has become suspicious of patisserie assistant Maezawa, who has expressed an interest in Hanayu. As it turns out, both Hanayu and Hayato may have their wires crossed about what Maezawa is really after!

By: Ayumi Komura
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance/Food
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★☆☆

I read the first 2 preview chapters for this series back when Shojo Beat was still around, and wasn’t impressed. Further reviews from fellow reviewers didn’t inspire me to look further into the series, and I’m not a foodie, so this volume had three strikes against it going in. But it actually wasn’t so bad. There wasn’t anything great about it. It’s a fairly average title, but I didn’t regret the time I spent reading it.

Hanaya and Hayato, the leads that I found so annoying in the preview chapters of volume 1, aren’t so bad by this volume. Hanaya no longer has to plot to get Hayato to marry her, which is what I disliked so much about her initially. She and Hayato have admitted their feelings for each other, and by this volume, Hanaya is working in Hayato’s family sushi shop. I found the characters much more likeable this time around, which greatly improved my reading experience.

Hanaya’s family plan a trip to France, and with Hanaya and Hayato trading places, each of them gets the chance to become immersed in their preferred environment. Hanaya, while already working at the Sushi shop, hasn’t actually been able to work in the kitchen. In this volume, she gets some time in, and shows her ability to combine foods and flavors that compliment each other, creating new and interesting dishes. Hayato gets to go on a pastry-tasting trip with Ashifuba, Hayana’s father, where he shows his ability to identify who made a pastry just by sight and flavor.

As is typical with any romance, there are forces seemingly conspiring to keep Hanaya and Hayato from staying together, especially now that they’ve decided to be together. The threat of Maizawa turns out to not actually be one, but the volume ends on a cliff hanger that just could. It’s actually a pretty cliché route to go, especially with the way the series has been set up. But it wasn’t poorly done, just not unexpected.

Overall, this volume wasn’t a bad read. It could have been worse, but it wasn’t an inspiring read either. There’s nothing really interesting about the characters in general. The lead characters particular talents are mildly interesting but not enough to really be a draw. Hanaya’s side of the story was definitely more entertaining. It focused more on the food and preparation than on the angst Hayato was facing. The art is average, but some of the characters are rather distinctive-looking. Maizawa comes to mind. I did like that as well. Mixed Vegetables isn’t a bad time killer, but it’s not a keeper.

Oishinbo a la Carte: Fish, Sushi, and Sashimi

Yamaoka and his father Kaibara Yuzan, have never enjoyed an ideal father-son relationship.  In fact, it’s about as far from ideal as possible, and when they start arguing about food–which they inevitably do–the sparks really fly.  In this volume of Oishinbo, the subject of dispute is fish, starting with the question of whether mackerel can ever be truly good sashimi.  Later, things come to a head during the “Salmon Match” which pits father against son in an epic contest to develop the best dish before a panel of judges.  Will Yamaoka finally defeat Kaibara?  Or will he once again be left in his father’s shadow?

Story by Tetsu Kariya; Art by Akira Hanasaki
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Food
Price: $12.99
Rating: ★★★★½

The overall premise of Oishinbo is that Yamaoka and his partner Kurita are compiling the “Ultimate Menu” of Japanese cuisine for the 100th anniversary of the publishers of Tozai News.  Each volume of Viz’s compilation of this long running series is centered around a type of food. This volume is all about fish.  The stories are episodic, and can be broken down into two types; Yamaoka helping someone out or putting someone in their place about food, and Yamaoka vs. Kaibara, his father, over some kind of food dish.

Yamaoka comes off as lazy and a cynic, but at heart he really is a good guy.  Whether it’s coming to the defense of a young boy’s opinion, helping a man get over being dumped by a girl, or a student accept getting into his second choice college instead of the first, Yamaoka finds a way through food.  I really enjoyed these stories, as they showed both Yamaoka’s knowledge and skill as well as his good heart.

What I didn’t enjoy were the stories with Yamaoka competing with his father Kaibara.  Now, I don’t mind the competitions themselves.  They require both skill and knowledge, with much of the latter being imparted to the reader.  What makes a good sashimi, why salmon and other fresh water fish shouldn’t be used as sushi and what’s really important when making a meal for someone are all topics covered in this volume.  While I found the information interesting and informative, I just couldn’t stand Kaibara.  His overly smug attitude toward Yamaoka, and people in general really struck me the wrong way.  I know I’m not supposed to like him, but his whole demeanor made some of these chapters just unpleasant to read.

The art in Oishinbo isn’t very realistic.  It’s rather simplistic, with a newspaper comic feel to it.  There aren’t a lot of the manga conventions you see in a lot of other titles, making this very friendly to a non-manga reading audience.  The food and the fish are very realistic, on the other hand, showing the emphasis is on the food more than the people.

Overall I found Oishinbo A la Carte to be an enjoyable read, though Kaibara did drag it down some.  Other people may not be bothered by Kaibara so much, so this is still a title I recommend.  If you’ve ever wanted to try a manga without all the baggage, or are just curious about Japanese cuisine, this is a title you definitely want to check out.