Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy!

Food manga is supposed to make you hunger for more. It usually does the trick for me. This manga, however, leaves me insert negative food expression here. I’m not sure, maybe “leaves me craving a tastier manga”. Anyway, “Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy!” is a mouthful of a title, but the rest of it doesn’t fill you up. I’m not good with food puns. Why is this manga not worth it? Let’s take a gander. Although I recommend the squab myself.

Plot: F-mi Y-naga is a yaoi manga artist! But at night, she turns into a foodie! She invites her friends to enjoy fine cuisine and rave how delicious the meals are! Repeat for each chapter with minor variations.

The first problem with the manga is that it’s unappealing to look at. Food manga needs to make its subject appetizing, or else the reader thinks, “Well, that doesn’t look so good. Are they exaggerating?”

It’s not that the author can’t draw food well. I’ve read “Antique Bakery”. The food looks great. Here, however, there’s little effort. The art is minimal. This is even worse considering that most of the food has a single panel devoted to each one. Sometimes more, sometimes none.

This breaks the rule of “show don’t tell”. In other food-related manga, the food looks nice and you get a good idea of how it tastes. The characters are also willing to tell the reader how the food was prepared, which makes one want to try the meal themself. Here, the characters just say “It’s a tad sweet, and the milk makes it tangy!” Or something like that.

If the manga doesn’t tell you how to prepare it, the characters should have ridiculous reactions to eating the food, such as “Yakitate!! Japan”. But F-mi and friends act fairly normal compared to other series. Not actually human being normal, but you get the idea.

Also, “F-mi Y-naga”? You mean “Fumi Yoshinaga”? Yup, the protagonist is based on the author. In fact, all of the characters are based on people Miss Yoshinaga knows. So they have names like “S-hara” and so on. It’s nice that she wants to keep her friends fairly anonymous, but this is a bit annoying.

Imagine if I talked like “N-t L-ve B-t D-cious F-ds M-ke Me So H-py is a l-sy m-nga”. It’s distracting. The names seem fake. In turn the characters seem fake, and I tend to lose track of who’s who. Not that it matters, since most of the characters tend to disappear after their chapter.

The only interesting character is F-mi, but that’s because she and S-hara (her straightman assistant and roommate) are the only consistent faces from chapter to chapter. Actually, even that’s not true. F-mi has two faces. One for her work, which is dowdy and overweight, and one for her food exploration, which is modestly attractive. I say “modestly” because even then the other characters don’t think she looks good.

I think Yamaoka from “Oishinbo” said it best about foodie books: “Food is meant to be eaten–not read. Your stomach doesn’t get full from just reading books about food. It’s only annoying to read about how other people are eating good stuff.”

Ironically, Oishinbo is a manga about other people enjoying food that you’re not eating, but the difference is that the food is drawn deliciously, not to mention that you can try them at home.

Although Yoshinaga isn’t all cruel. She does include the restaurant information at the end of each chapter, and it’s quite detailed. So if you need to find places to eat meals while visiting Japan, this could be worth your time. Everyone else should steer clear.

Overall Opinion: Not this manga but Antique Bakery makes me so happy! Skip it.

Rating: A broken chopstick out of a set of silverware. I didn’t like it.

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The Hentai Prince And The Stony Cat

I was looking forward to reading this manga, because of what I thought the premise was. “Smutty Teen Guy wants everyone to know what a big pervert he is, so he wishes to tell everyone what his desires are.” Not a good premise, right?

So I waited months for it to be shipped to the US. Finally, it came. I bought it alongside other manga and manwha, so I ended up saving it for last. I knew that I shouldn’t have, but I did. I read lots and lots of bad and mediocre manga and manwha. Some was good, but much was bad. So today I finally said, “This is the last of my stack. It’s time to do this.”

And…

AND…

I liked it alright.

Not loved, but I’d read more. Not hated, since it has something going for it. Let’s take a gander at “The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat”, shall we?

Plot: Ponta is such a loser! He doesn’t even let everyone know what a pervert he is! Okay, so when he tries to peek at girls in swimsuits and the like, he always ends up getting mistaken for a good citizen. This is bad for some reason, mostly because he’s assigned to be captain of the sports team. So he and an emotionally expressive girl wish upon a stone cat to take away their traits. It works, but like every wish story, it backfires. Ponta can’t stop blurting out perverted things, and the girl has no emotional expressions at all.

This, I must admit, is the most intriguing thing I’ve read in a while. Newly published, that is.

Look, as far as plots go, this is fairly fresh. Yeah, yeah, I know that wishing stories with horrible consequences are as cliched as they get. But anyone with a sense of creativity can make do with an overused idea. Like the show “Adventure Time”. They took the most generic plot–a boy and his dog–and made it AWESOME. Yeah, there’s a bajillion other reasons why I love Adventure Time, but the basic premise is “A boy and his dog”.

Getting back to this, what’s so original? Well, nothing. Nothing is ever original anymore. But repackaging certainly spices things up. You’ve seen the “person can’t lie” thing in Liar Liar, but this is a manga, so there’s that. And actually incorporating the fact that the girl doesn’t have facial expressions works to its advantage.

That’s something else, though. I’ve been noticing lately an endless stream of manga with emotionless girls. In the putrid “GA”, my favorite character “Professor” has no facial expressions. Sakaki from Azumanga Daioh rarely moves her mouth upwards. When she does, it’s magical. How about “Is This A Zombie?” My favorite character bond in that series is between the zombie and the emotionless girl.

Where am I going with this? Well, I’m saying that the emotionless girl concept isn’t bad. I thought I would hate it, but actually, there’s plenty of times that I find that it works. Does it always? Of course not. But when it does, it’s welcome.

Getting back, there’s another factor in this series: When a person wishes to lose a certain trait, it goes to someone else. So Ponta’s trait to politely lie about his feelings is given to a snobby girl, who needs it to maintain a social image. So Ponta tries to get it back from her without actually telling her what’s going on. This would be annoying if it didn’t make so much sense.

Actually asking her outright means that she wouldn’t want to do it anyway, so Ponta tries to make her realize that she should get rid of her negative trait in the hopes that it’ll come back to him. Not brilliant, but a satisfying explanation.

Oh, and I DID laugh. So you should know. It involved a documentary that was completely wrong. So… again, more than most modern manga do for me.

It’s not hentai, even though the word is in the title. There’s that.

Do I love it? No. Would I recommend it? Not to a beginner. But for what it is, I may actually buy more and even reread this volume.

Overall Opinion: It’s not great, but you could do worse. Trust me. You could do worse.

Rating: Two Cats out of Four.

COMPLETED! Princess Ai

It’s 2013! Last year I made the mistake of reviewing a very dull manga. Well, I’m not going to do that again! Nope! Instead, we’re going to look at the continuing adventures of Courtney Love’s ego! You can see how it began here!

So in volume two, Princess Ai becomes a popstar! Or something. It should be a heavy metal star, but OKAY. She meets Yoshi, a feminine-looking man. Yay. And by “yay”, I mean, “Oh, why did the manga have to resort to this?”

Look, I have no qualms with this type of character. EXCEPT EVERYTHING. Manga use this type of character often, and it’s rarely done inoffensively. Nor is it ever funny. They’re like, “SAY! This person could be a man or a woman! HA HA HA HA HA!” NO. STOP.

On top of that, we already have the gay roommate. Ai seems to think of him as a “pesky gay roommate”, remember? So she’s kind of backwards. But no one calls her out on anything. Oh, do they ever never call her out on anything.

Thought Ai couldn’t be more of a self-absorbed avatar of Love? Think again. Apparently, Ai’s music has a sort of emotional-healing power. Which means she has superpowers. Almost everyone falls in love with Ai, which means those who hate her are clearly evil. Manager who tries to ruin her career? EVIL. Woman who hated Ai back at their club? GONE.

Okay, let’s talk about the manager, then the woman who hated Ai in the club. The manager is having amazing success with Ai’s music sales and what have you. So what does he decide to do? KILL HER OFF. Look, I know that music companies can surpass sales when a musician dies, but killing her off before she puts out more than one CD? What is this? For that matter, WHY? You wanna know why? BECAUSE AI HAS A TEMPER. Yeah, that’s never happened in the history of musical celebrities.

The woman at the club, meanwhile, never appears or is mentioned outside of volume one. So… why was she even there? A temporary antagonist? I think it would have been interesting to see her reaction to Ai’s success. Maybe she changed her view and was like, “Oh, Ai! I was so wrong! I’m your number one fan!” Or something. Maybe she turns into a trainwreck, furthering Ai’s perfection and the fact that all who oppose her shall be thrown to the Lions of Karma.

Lions of Karma would be a great name for a band.

So Kent and Ai don’t communicate until Kent seeks out Ai. Then the gay roommate helps Kent find Ai, showing that he gave up on trying to win Kent’s love. Good. I guess.

Ai’s old buddy Jen also reappears, making Ai very happy. And, of course, Ai is not allowed to be too happy. More on that later.

The manager also spreads the true rumor that Ai has wings. She’s not shy about it, much like a moron. So this forms a prophet group in favor of Ai, as well as a nay-sayer group opposed to Ai. Guess which group is arrested by the end of the manga?

So Ai does some more stuff like save a suicidal woman by singing and go on the radio and blah blah blah. WHAT ABOUT JEN?

Well, in volume three, Ai and Jen are talking about what good friends they are. “We’ll be friends forever!” or some variation on that line. This of course means that Jen is totally going to live to see tomorrow. Yup. Yup. Nothing can possibly go wrong for

JEN DIES BY TOUCHING AI’S HEART-SHAPED BOX. So Ai’s like, “I should’ve told you never to touch the box!” Um… why? It seems to kill humans, but as far as I can recall, this is really the first mention of the box’s power. Jen saves the box from a thief, which means her death wasn’t in vain. Except the thief dies too, so I guess it WAS in vain.

Here’s my problem with Jen’s death: Apparently, Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain met through their mutual friend, Jennifer. “Hey, thanks for introducing me to my husband! I guess I’ll kill you off in my manga!” UGH.

Speaking of killing off people, the manager says, “Musicians like Hendrix or Kurt Cobain dying boost sales!” Great. Great. Apparently, both Kent and Kurt exist in this universe. Moving on.

Then Kent is shot with an arrow. Or something, I don’t know. Oh, yeah. Apparently, Ai made friends with the monster that was trying to kill her. The monster’s sisters, however, hate her. So they accidentally shoot Kent with an arrow. This makes Ai go ballistic, and her singing makes the audience act like jerks. So basically, the opposing group was right. Hmm.

Oh, but don’t worry! Kent didn’t die! The arrow didn’t go all the way in! WHATEVER. Kent lives, and Ai has to go back to her home planet. And they’re like, “Even when apart, we’ll still be together!” Yuh.

This is just Courtney Love stroking her ego. She makes herself out to be some sort of goddess, but she just isn’t. I don’t care for her music. And I don’t think she looks anywhere as pleasant as Ai.

However, Ai is somewhat likable. Maybe it’s because her perfection is so over the top, but I find it endearing. The other characters only exist to bounce off of her, so they’re dull. But I enjoyed it.

Final Impression: But that doesn’t mean it’s good. It’s bad. Really bad. I can’t honestly give it a good rating. It has its moments, but they don’t qualify this manga as actually being good. Read it if you want to see Courtney Love’s view of herself, but everyone else should skip it.

Completion Rating: Two Rhinoceros Waiters out of Seven.