Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oishinbo: Fish, Sushi and Sashimi Review

I'm tired and cranky today because I had to wake up early again today for a two hour meeting that did nothing for me except piss me off further. I'm not even in that much of a mood to write, but I also feel like powering through and doing something, so I'm just going to write a quick review for some manga (pronounced main-ga) I read this week. Oishinbo is a food and cooking manga (pronounced main-ga) writen by Tetsu Kariya with art by Akira Hanasaki. It is about some guy whose name I can't remember right now but I'm sure is a Japanese name who is a newspaper writer and gourmet who works with his female partner whose name I also can't remember but is also probably Japanese. They are working to create the Ultimate Menu, a collection of all the recipes that make Japanese food Japanese. Each volume in the American release focuses on a different type of food. This is the second volume I have read so far, the first dealing with the making of ramen and gyoza. This particular volume deals with fish, ssushi and sashimi.

I have very much enjoyed the first two volumes of this series that I have read. I'm not a foodie in any way but reading this manga (pronounced main-ga) kind of makes me want to become one. Each volume comes with a recipe that seems easy enough to make, but beyond that I just love the characters. The main character is basically a slacker who just wants to sleep and eat well, but when push comes to shove he is very focused on his job. Well, he's more focused on beating his father, who is also a gourmet, and is working on the simalar Supreme Menu, and is also kind of a jerk. Each volume seems to have at least one of their major battles (think Iron Chef, but with a lot of posturing and yelling, so exactly like Iron Chef).

The format of the story is a little weird. Since each volume focuses on a different type of food, each US edition draws from different periods within the original story. For example, the main character and his female writing partner eventually get married and have a kid as the story runs its course, so each volume of the US edition starts with them as working friends, skips forward to them being dating, and then skips forward even further to them being married. It makes some of the stories come off a little weird and I wish it was being released in a more chronological manner so I could be more invested in the characters. That said, the characters are written with a lot of flair and you quickly catch up with where they are and what the relationships are. With the series running for over 25 years and with more than a hundred tankobon volumes released so far, a lot of credit goes to the translators for making the series easy to follow, and for explaining all the cooking jargon.

The art is kind of simple, but very expressive as the best manga (pronounced main-ga) should be. It reads quick and will make you want to go out for Japanese food. I did have a problem with this volume in that it says sushi right there in the title, but there's very little talk about sushi or how to prepare it, at least not as much as I would have liked. Regardless, this is a great series and one of the best manga (pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd) being published. I need to track down another volume now. Highly recommended.

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