rushthatspeaks: (Default)
[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
A one-volume piece by Fumi Yoshinaga, also author of Ōoku, Antique Bakery, Flower of Life, and many other extremely good manga of which I am very fond. Honestly Yoshinaga is probably my favorite mangaka. She references eighteenth-century philosophy in her gay romances and is doing a gender-switched version of the history of the Tokugawa shogunate, what's not to like?

And she is also something of a foodie.

This particular work is semi-autobiographical, in that way one sometimes gets with Japanese pseudonyms where the character is called F-mi Y-naga and everyone else is also called their names with parts blanked out. The principal effect of this is that one knows perfectly well that it is autobiographical... ish, because it is, in fact, a pseudonym; it gives her plausible deniability. Probably best to read this as fiction, though she assures us on the title page that all the restaurants are real, and gives their addresses, phone numbers, days open and nearest train stations.

At any rate, F-mi Y-naga, who is a manga artist, gets hired to do manga recommendations of good restaurants in Tokyo, and the manga is about how she does that. Along for the ride are her assistant/roommate/absolutely not boyfriend S-hara and their various friends, blind dates, colleagues and other people who can be taken out to dinner. The personal relationships are fun and interesting and do not follow the usual cliches-- when I say that S-hara is absolutely not her boyfriend, I mean that these are two people who would rather crawl over broken glass than date each other, but who are starting to worry that the expectations of their families and society in general combined with the oddly scheduled life of a manga studio may leave them no alternatives. Their friendship is bitchy, hilarious, and weirdly touching, and they are quite right that they shouldn't be dating.

But the main point is the food porn. Which is really impressive. I am glad that a) these are all real restaurants and b) she gives their addresses, because even though restaurants shift over time I will be hitting any one of these that is still there if I get to Japan in the next decade. She draws food quite appetizingly (there's a great repeating gag about how she keeps meaning to take reference photos when her meal arrives and then forgets until after she's eaten it), but as anyone who's read her Antique Bakery will remember, what she's really good at is how people talk about food. Everyone in this manga can talk about food in a knowledgeable, descriptive, non-pretentious, mouthwatering way that I wish I could do myself. Food is serious business to Y-naga, who at one point breaks up with a guy for not liking a restaurant she suggested, and her joy in cooking well, taking people to good restaurants, feeding people good food and watching them revel in it shines through continuously. (When someone asks her how it is she knows so many good restaurants, the reply is "There are maybe between four and six hours in a day when I am not either working or sleeping. During all of that time, I think about food. Or, better to say, depending on the work I might be spending my working hours thinking about food too. Since I've given that much of my life to food, don't you think food owes me a little bit of payback for it?")

Seriously, the only way this could be better is if there were recipes.

Date: 2011-02-17 08:26 am (UTC)
starlady: Remy from the movie Ratatouille sniffing herbs for a stew (cooking)
From: [personal profile] starlady
Is this translated, or is it only in Japanese? I need it, clearly.

Date: 2011-02-17 04:15 pm (UTC)
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnhammer
I like Yen Press's work. It's not always perfect, but usually better than average, at least on average.


Date: 2011-02-17 09:23 am (UTC)
cyphomandra: Painting of a bare tree, by Rita Angus (tree)
From: [personal profile] cyphomandra
I loved this - although reading it made me very, very hungry (and bitter about being a 12 hour flight away from Tokyo!). I've been a bit hit-and-miss with Yoshinaga's earlier manga - loved Flower of Life, stalled on Antique Bakery, gave away my copies of Ichigemme (although I did really like the breakfasts), but Ōoku is amazing, and Not Love But Delicious Foods made me like everyone in it so much that I might give some of her other titles a go.

I've tried some of the recipes from Oishinbo, with success, but I suspect Yoshinaga's ones would be much more daunting!

Date: 2011-02-17 12:52 pm (UTC)
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
From: [personal profile] kate_nepveu
Do want. Thanks.

Date: 2011-02-17 09:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I did not even know this book existed, and it sounds amazing. So happy I read this post!

Date: 2011-02-17 07:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I am glad. Thank you!

Date: 2011-02-17 05:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oooh! How does one find it?


Date: 2011-02-17 06:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Mine was in my comic store, and they don't have any special connections for manga, just keep a reasonable selection of popular new stuff. Of course, they do know I shop there, but they wouldn't special-order, it must've come from their distributor.

Date: 2011-02-17 07:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I bought it at a Barnes and Noble, without special-ordering. So it's possible the Coop would have it in their graphic novel section; Million-Year Picnic also might well have one in stock. I suspect any of the bookstores in the area could order it, though I doubt Harvard Bookstore would have it without being asked.


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