MIXED VEGETABLES • Ayumi Komura • Viz • 13+
Hanayu Ashitaba, whose skills with the knife are unparalleled, is a student at Oikawa High School’s culinary arts program. But although her family runs a pastry shop, she loves cooking with fish, and her goal is to run a sushi restaurant–by marrying into a prestigious sushi family, of course. Her target in this pragmatic scheme–and the only cook at school who’s her equal–is Hyuga, the only son of a famous sushi restaurant. But when she senses Hyuga’s innate goodness, she feels ashamed of using him for his family…does she really like her “sushi boy,” or does she just like him for what he is? A slight, mellow story, Mixed Vegetables isn’t really a cooking manga; there’s a few tips about proper knife holding, and the characters must compete to chop cucumbers and so on, but it’s mostly about Hanayu’s awkward steps of first love. “What does it mean to ‘fall in love’?! And what is with this ridiculous soliloquy?!” Hanayu ponders. In short, the emotion is there, but with such a simple two-character dynamic and not much in the way of tension, the manga doesn’t leave much impression. The cooking theme is ultimately incidental, although the food art is nice. (Jason Thompson) (Review by Jason Thompson – originally printed in Otaku USA magazine.)
** (two stars)
Today’s winner is Miriam S. of California! Congratulations, Miriam! Mixed Vegetables was…. a disappointment. It’s a competently drawn and written shojo manga, but the central idea that “I must marry someone to get into this profession” is so old-fashioned and stilted (certainly to American readers, and probably to 99% of Japanese readers) and I think everyone, not just me, was hoping it would become a cooking manga. Oh well. I can’t criticize a horse for not being like a rabbit, I guess — unless that horse’s name is “Mixed Rabbits.”
Today’s photo is of John P., one of our previous winners. Congrats John! While you’re waiting for your second shipment of manga to arrive, go over to “House of 1000 Manga” on Anime News Network and check out my review of another classic title, The Four Immigrants Manga, the oldest manga ever translated into English.