To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the Tozai newspaper has planned on publishing the ‘Ultimate Menu' - describing a model meal of food and drink for the Japanese public. They have enlisted the help of Shirou Yamaoka, a journalist who has a culinary past of his own: his father Kaibara Yuuzan, the founder of the elite Gourmet Club, trained him to become a world class chef. However, bitter about the way their family was put on the sidelines for his father's precise tastes, Shirou broke all of Kaibara's expensive pottery and left the household. Now, Shirou and his partner Yuuko Kirita set forth to experience the tastes, smells and experiences of a variety of Japanese cuisine, including ramen, gyoza, sake, fish and beyond, in order to construct the perfect Ultimate Menu!
Oishinbo is really interesting. It has no single element that is extrodinary, but overall it is a solid, well-balanced manga. If you are enjoy cooking or want to learn more about Japanese food and food culture, this is one of the best starting points. However, the manga does not collect chapters in publication order, but by topic. One volume covers vegetables, another ramen, etc. This means that the side plots regarding the characters are really mixed up. If you're someone who enjoys the characters' interactions like budding romances and parental drama, you're better off trying to read Oishinbo as online scanlations so you can read the chapters in order.
I want everyone to know what an awesome food/cooking/slice of life manga this is! I'm enjoying it immensely! It has actually influenced my outlook on cooking and inspired me to trying out new things when I'm cooking at home too. I've incorporated many newingredients and also techniques since I started reading this. I try different oils made from sesame, peanut and use rice vinegar etc. in my cooking and it has made my food a lot more delicious. You really learn a lot from reading this! Highly reccomended to anyone who is interested in Japanese food. The story is very light and focuses mainly around food. The story is an excuse to talk about food you could say, so if you're looking for something deep and complicated you won't get it here (unless we're talking about deep, complicated cooking!). Even though the characters aren't that fleshed out, I still feel attached to them they seem very authentic, which makes me want to learn more about them. A big plus is that the transitions from the small stories to the food parts don't seem awkward at all. They flow very naturally, which really adds to the experience. A little minus for me though is that it sometimes can come off as a bit too nationalistic. Sometimes I feel like the "Japan is the best country" attitude is being rubbed in my face, and as much as I'm interested in the food, culture and philosophy behind it, it rubs off the wrong way. The art is also very nice, in my opinion ^^ I love intricate linearts, sparkles and feathers as well as intense action scenes, but I have a nostalgic love for simple artstyles like this. It gets down to business and shows you very neatly and cleanly what it wants to convey. I'm impressed and pleased by the diversity of faces in this manga. no one looks quite the same. And the food drawn here is mouthwatering! Most food illustrations are so excuisite that you'd believe it could pop out of the page anytime (even though it's in black and white!) All in all, a very, very enjoyable manga. It's the kind of manga you sit down reading when you want to just feel good and be in a light, happy mood. It's a great plus that it's educational too. haha. I can reccomend this to everyone who is interested in Japanese food - how to make it, and the thoughts and feelings behind it. (There is one problem though. I am reading the officially translated volumes in English, and it's really frustrating that the volumes are divided into categories of food rather than chronological order.... In just one volume, I've seen the main characters as not really knowing each other, planning their wedding and having twins! And then switching back to when they aren't even together! It's really frustrating and makes me read the other volumes (which also aren't numbered) to try to find the previous ones (story-wise)...but no... So that is a really frustrating miss on the publisher's side or maybe mangaka/writer? I don't know. It certainly doesn't seem like this was the writer's intention.)
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