Oishinbo – A la Carte Vol 1 by Kariya & Hanasaki Manga Review

Title:  Oishinbo – A la Carte Vol 1

Story:  Tetsu Kariya

Art:  Akira Hanasaki

Publisher: Viz

ISBN: 9781421521398

May Contain Spoilers

People who know me, know that I love food.  I love food so much that I plan entire vacations around eating, and I take dolls to restaurants just so I can photograph the cuisine with my model and blog about it later.  The boyfriend has gotten used to this somewhat strange quirk, but fellow diners aren’t always so forgiving.  I don’t see what is so unusual about sharing the dinner table with a My Scene Barbie, but I’ve never been considered the most normal member of my family.

Oishinbo is, plain and simple, about food.  Oh, sure, there’s a bit of a plot involving Yamaoka and his bully of a father, but first and foremost, this is about different types of Japanese cuisine and its preparation.  If you aren’t fascinated with the proper way to slice sashimi or brew tea, than you are going to be bored out of your mind by this book.  I enjoyed the episodic chapters, with all of the slicing and dicing, but this is something that I could only enjoy in small doses.  There are 102 collected editions of this series – Viz has chosen highlights from the series and will be releasing seven volumes in English.  This volume included some color pages, some recipes for dishes covered in the book, and a boat load of notes to clarify terms used in the book.

The basic story centers around Yamaoka, a journalist who has been chosen to create the “Ultimate Menu,” a model meal embodying the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine.  Yamaoka doesn’t  actually seem to work very hard on this project; instead, he and his co-workers spend an awful lot of time eating.  To challenge his digestive peace, his father, a loud, harsh critic of even the most beautifully prepared dishes, somehow always manages to arrive to disturb his son’s attempts to enjoy a relaxed meal.  Kaibara is serious about his dinner – this guy will throw plates of carefully arranged sashimi or bowls of miso in a fit of rage, terrifying everyone on the premises.  I would just love to see his reaction to some of my home cooked meals.

I wasn’t overly fond of the art.  The people seemed stiff and wooden, but the food did make me a little hungry.  I am not someone who enjoys cooking – tossing some fresh veggies into a bowl of instant ramen is about as much effort as I want to make when preparing a meal, but it was interesting seeing how much care was expended creating some of the food in the book.  All of that cutting and cooking and arranging on beautiful plates seemed very tiring, though I wouldn’t hesitate to dive in if someone placed one in front of me.

Grade: B

Rated for Teen

Review copy provided by Viz

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