5 Least Good / Worst Yu-Gi-Oh! Manga Games

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Yu-Gi-Oh! is best known as an anime about card games. However, the manga started out as various games, like the game where you stab money over your hand, or reaching into a shoe for coins while a scorpion lies inside, waiting. Mostly games of daring.

But there’s some games that… suck. So here’s my five least favorite picks for the worst games in the first seven Yu-Gi-Oh! manga.

I’m gonna go with the original Japanese names, Yugi = Yugi, Tea = Anzu, Tristan = Honda, but I’m keeping Joey as Joey. I like Joey’s Western name.

5) Monster Fighter

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So it’s Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots? I can dig it, but that’s all there is. It’s more elaborate, fine, with the data chips and robot skills, but it’s Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots in the end. You can put lipstick on a robot, and it’ll still rock and sock. Somehow the rocking and socking attracts thieves. Look, I know it’d be cool in the real world to have this thing, but consider this: You have no space. Like, how can you gather crowds if five other people can watch? Tournaments? What a joke. And it really seems to boil down to button-mashing. What’s the point of strategy if you’re just doing any random thing?

And that’s the biggest problem: One of the big draws is how cunning Yami-Yugi is, how his strategy and cool demeanor helps him win. Here, the Spider could have one. There’s no cunning in that defeat; the opponent lost his cool. And don’t tell me using his cool to annoy the Spider was his strategy; when Yami Yugi played dice against a TV director, he used BOTH his cool attitude and his wits, turning the angry director’s win into a loss by holding up the puzzle when he threw the die, turning the six into a seven. But here? Nah, cracks in face.

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4) Love Letter Puzzle

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The only female character to face Yami Yugi in a Shadow Game, yet she never faced him. Face. Okay.

That stupid Ribon or Ribbon or Ribbbon was made a main character in Yu-Gi-Oh! Zero, but only to be Honda’s love interest. That’s like being Andy Dick’s understudy. She was way worse there than here. There, she fell for all the wrong guys, Kaiba included. Here, she told Honda flat-out that she didn’t like him. Case closed!

The issue is the way he asked her out. He put a puzzle, written by Yugi, under her desk. The creepy teacher did inspections, found the puzzle, and planned to expel whoever wrote it (Honda, since that’s how it’s signed). Forgetting how bad Honda is for not writing his own love letter, the teacher wanted to find condoms or cigarettes to expel kids and blow off steam. This? I know dating is forbidden at Domino High School, but so are part-time jobs. And it’s not like you can present the puzzle as evidence of dating. It’s a love letter, not a positive pregnancy test.

Yami Yugi puts her in a Shadow Game, and when she finishes, the real face under her makeup shows her true nature. Creepy and gross, she runs off, with Yami Yugi mentioning she’ll never be able to cover up her face.

You know, he’s faced murderers and the like before, but he never punishes them like he does normal jerks. The TV director only sees mosaic, some kid who steal Yugi’s puzzle has his soul put in a jar, but the serial killer, the thugs, the escaped convict, it’s always fire. No, look it up. They can recover from that.

Plus, who confesses in a puzzle? Not anyone who wants the answer to be “yes,” it seems.

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3) Capsule Monsters

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There was an anime of this, but not a game. I wonder why? Well, it’s a cool concept. Heck, it was the initial name for Pokemon. There’s five monsters per player, ranging from 1 to 5 levels. They have their own abilities. And there’s a number of different boards.

OH, THAT’S THAT! Who wants to lug around a giant board to play with friends? Cards in the pocket, easy. Not to mention the level difference. Why would anyone want to play with the Level 1 monsters? Sure, Torigun has that diagonal move, but it’s way better to have giant monsters. Seems like a lazy concept.

Plus, the first fight lacks an “evolution square.” Probably necessary for playing with Level 1’s, yeah?

And it really is just Duel Monsters, just dumbed down.
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He said, placing his monsters in one spot as well. This game needs a set starting point. Otherwise, you’d just set it up based on your foe’s layout.

2) Virtual Pets

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When virtual pets come to Domino, the gang compares their pets. Yugi’s is literally a head with limbs and Yugi hair. Hmm. Joey’s is a weird, sullen, uncute thug, but after kicking Yugi’s pet, they’re friends. Seriously, we get it, they’re their owners’ pets. Anzu has a cute peach, and Honda has nothing. Yeah, seems right.

But one classmate has a special pet. See, this virtual pet system has millions of different pets based on how they’re raised, but a mysterious pet emerges when you’ve done everything in a specific manner. They have black star on them, and–

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GAH!

He’s not really humanoid; all pets are non-digital in the perspective of the game. So how does a pet speak perfect human speech, and why isn’t it for all pets? WHO KNOWS? IT’S A GLITCH OR A VIRUS! PRETTY FREAKING NUANCED FOR A GLITCH!

The pet eats others when they combine keychains, but Yugi’s evolves… and it’s a Yami Yugi clone. Sigh. It kills this pet, only to die the next day. And that’s why Tamagotchi is bankrupt.

1) Death T’s Haunted Mansion Guillotine

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Kaiba should be in jail. He never goes, but he shouldn’t be allowed to do things like make parks.

Construction Worker: “Hey, this says you want a giant room for falling blocks that crush people.”
Kaiba: “And why isn’t it done?”
CW: “It’s highly illegal!”
K: “No, it’s a game! Like Tetris!”
CW: “Oh, I love Tetris!”
K: “Fantastic. Now, here’s the plans for the serial killer’s room.”

But I despise him for the guillotine. Oh, sure it’s only a guillotine that chops of hands. Nowhere near as evil as hiring three assassins to kill Yugi and company.

But think about it: Kaiba invited Yugi and had him bring Joey and Honda. The guillotine can be stopped by pressing the right button. There are four holes. The intention was for Yugi, Joey, and Honda to put their hands in the holes.

Now, how many people started Death T? Three. How many holes? Four. How many people are there at this point? Four. Who pressed the correct button?

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Gotta hand it to Anzu. If she wasn’t there… and that might have been Kaiba’s intention! And why put the clue there? The other games are rigged against them, so why does Kaiba play fair here? Unless… if Anzu wasn’t there, it could have been to rub his nose in it. And that’s against the rules.

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Eensy Weensy Monster

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So “Weensy” is a word according to spellcheck, but not “Eensy.” Aren’t they mutually exclusive?

Masami Tsuda’s two-volume series, “Eensy Weensy Monster,” published by Tokyopop in the American and its subsequent States, which as said to be United. Might have to remove the “United” part one day, who knows. Then it could be the “SA,” though three letters would be better, right? Of? “States of America,” “SOA,” Sword Art On–” Oops.

And that’s why too much build-up can be disastrous. Sometimes the plot gets too muddled, or the ending doesn’t improve to suit the changes in the series, or you write so much that you forget what Sword Art Online’s acronym spells. So for the lover of simplicity in both plots and length, I present unto you “Eensy Weensy Monster.”

The gist is this: We all have “monsters” that are a part of us. Mine is that I’ve written manga reviews for five years and I still don’t know where to put my solid-gold treadmill. Nanoha Satsuki’s is that she blows her top around Hazuki Tokiwa, the handsome guy with a shield of girls around him. She calls him out for being a superficial prince, which shatters him to the core. This leads Hazuki to do some soul-searching and stay away from girls, other than Nanoha. Will these two get together? Is this a shojo or not?

The best parts of this manga feature Hazuki. Hazuki isn’t a bad guy, but he’s clueless about his own position. Nanoha is correct, and after asking the girls how they view him, they callously admit he’s not serious dating potential. After swearing off girls, he realizes he doesn’t have a single male friend. Eventually, this isolates him and helps him focus on friendship with Nahona. Ironically, he becomes dateable because he’s distant to the girls. His trials are hilarious and somewhat inspiring. It’s not often at that age you see teens in the prince position try to outgrow it.

Don’t get me wrong, Nahona’s funny enough, but her “monster” isn’t a big deal. She’s angry at one superficial brat, not even everyone of the same creed. And it’s not a huge flaw; it’s just sorted incorrectly. Nanoha is “average,” a word which means “authors try to make female protagonists so flat so the reader can put herself in that role, but Nanoha is too interesting to apply, so please try not to notice.” Her social anxiety is, in my opinion, her richest area of humor.

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There are other characters. From the secondary cast, I love Nobara. She’s the most popular girl in school, but is close friends with Nanoha. Nobara is dirt-poor, but her appearance doesn’t give it away. She makes Hazuki feel like less of a man, given she’s his rival for the girls (yep, an “all girls are latent lesbians” shtick). Nobara’s other friend is Renge, the schoool “princess,” but I cannot recall anything interesting about her. I mean, the manga is a few inches from me, and I’ve skimmed through, but she’s superfluous. Probably there to make Nanoha appear “average.”

Each character has an older sibling of the other gender, because… Uh??? World-building, I guess! World-building in a two-volume manga! But the series sharply narrows its attention on the leading two, and the entire point of the series was to make a year-long manga! You know those 365-day photo challenges? This is a 12-month manga challenge. That’s why it’s not complex, why it’s so short, why Masami Tsuda didn’t make another Kare Kano, also known as “His and Her Circumstances.” That was 9 years in the making, so one year for two volumes is a boon.

Kare Kano is similar to Eensy Weensy Monster. First, spellcheck recognizes the second word of each title, but not the first. More relevant, a girl hates a popular guy, the girl accidentally shows her hidden side to the guy, the guy makes sudden changes to himself which makes him more relatable to people, befriends the girl and they fall in love.

Kind of generic, but not as many series fit the bill as you think. Most mangaka repeat old ideas to seem new. Just look at every creator ever. Bay loves action so he makes robot cars and explosions, Burton loves the gothic so he puts black clothes and white skin everywhere, Toriyama loves science-fiction so he puts strong aliens and humanoid robots in his manga, Yoshinaga loves cooking, so she puts older gay men who loves to cook in her body of works.

And you can’t fault it, just like you can’t fault the sun for its heat or leather from amplifying said heat. It’s nature, and if you can bend it well enough, make your own Eensy Weensy Monster.

Art… Okay, I guess, but the heads are a tad too round, too goofy… Wait, those are the monsters. Nevermind. Way too much screentone for the background effects, which appear too often. And the designs really aren’t diverse enough. The closer to the ending, the lazier the backgrounds become.

For what it’s worth, a series like this is great. Like a breath of air after running a marathon, short manga series relieve tension and are necessary for breaking apart going from one tense environment to another. I don’t mean one-shots; one-shots are wildcards. Plenty of one-shots are anthologies, and you never get to stay with characters long enough. Two-volume manga permits that bond with the benefit of suitable levels of tension. If you can find it, pick up “Eensy Weensy Monster.”

Pop Japan Travel: Essential Otaku Guide

JUN073482_1It’s just a poorly made manga promoting a real-world Japan tour group. I feel a little foolish making this my 5th anniversary special. Founded in 2010, “The Manga Connoisseur” has dedicated himself to reading and reviewing almost any manga, as indicated by the new (at the time of this writing) tagline. “Pop Japan Travel: Essential Otaku Guide” is a manga I read early on, but never reviewed.

Until.

Until something. Until I get proper analytical skills. I had this listed amidst “good manga” for years, so I clearly won’t be properly reviewing it this time. But better than I could have hoped.

Digital Media Publishing is somewhere between Tokyopop and DoctorMaster in terms of quality assurance. Yes, I don’t hold their translating abilities in high regard. What other company would write “Senesi” (sensei) and “Divoreced” (divorced) in the same chapter? DoctorMaster, but they would have also mixed up which dialogue goes in which speech bubble.

WHAT IS POP JAPAN TRAVEL? Or was, it seems. The Japan tour group seems to focus on the more Western-adored aspects of Japan.

Since 2003, PJT has operated countless group tours and custom tours with themes focused on Japanese anime, manga, video games, music, fashion (to name a few) – all at an affordable price. Pop Japan Travel tours offer a careful balance of the hyper-modern world of J-pop culture and the rich traditions of ancient Japan. Additionally, PJT is the ONLY tour agency to provide exclusive experiences such as visits to anime and game studios, meetings with manga artists or designers, and classes at an actual manga school. On every group tour, a friendly, accommodating, knowledgeable, and bilingual guide will make sure your experience in Japan is everything you could ever hope it would be, and more.

That’s what the website claims, but the Facebook page hasn’t been updated since 2012, nor has the website. Sucks, donut?

As does the manga. Issac, a young man obsessed with Japan, takes the tour group so Elmo can learn more about “moe moe.” (That particular phrase goes untranslated for unknown reasons). Also on his tour group is Jack (“Dot Jack,” totally not a dated reference eight years later), a know-it-all “expert” who gets his knowledge of Japan from TV shows (“That’s strange… the Japanese folks in the movies are always in groups holding cameras…”); John, a muscular doll fanatic; Anne, a mostly mute woman who likes yaoi and is “half-Japanese” (Hmm… wonder why she’s really there), and their tour guide, Akiko Koga.

It’s Akiko Koga’s first time leading a tour.

This tour will determine her success as a tour guide, and whether or not she can do it again.

Akiko leads a tour where some members of the group bully her into wearing cute cafe-owned outfits, run out wearing said outfits (akin to stealing them), destroy city property when one can’t get a limited edition doll (he literally pounds the pavement), hijack rickshaws, got into fights with both thugs and yakuza, and one dumb group member held up the whole departing flight.

I do not foresee Akiko making it as a tour guide ever again.

Hey, Issac’s black!

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Issac is what you might call “Keet.” He’s loud, energetic, and kind of adorable, but also super annoying. I can’t say I’d like to deal with Issac in real life, but I know people like him, and I find this character in this setting kid of funny. He’s idealistic about a country he only likes for its anime (by the way, everyone in the clique is obsessed with one particular anime), even knocking out his boss when he calls the people of Japan “Yellow Monkeys.” I think the more I hate Issac, the more I find reasons to like him.

The others, well, not. Jack never gets the comeuppance or realization that his self-subscribed knowledge of Japan attributes. Basically, why have Jack there if the funniest thing to happen to him is mixing up “cute” and “scary” in Japanese? John is your stock “baby in a big body,” crying when he can’t get a doll. Anne is mostly quiet, but she’s there (shocker) to meet her father. He bails, but Issac convinced him to see her off at the airport. Great visit, Anne. Great parenting, Mr. Anne.

Then, this.11637893_10153333314249845_1145244830_n

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I know this was from 2007, but WOW, way to date yourself. And it’s only 2015! They’re using flip-phones! E-mailing? Ringtones? What madman would dream this up? But seriously, could you imagine going back to using a phone keypad to go online? Also, those Japanese folks are so rude, using their phones in public transportation. We’d never stoop to that. We’d sooner read.

The art’s grody. No offense to Nakajima, but it’s just sort of wonky, gangly, this has never been my strong suit.

You may wonder how this manga is the “Essential Otaku Guide.” Well, it has maps. You betcha. Also, and also, notes. Translation, cultural. But only sprinkled at the ends of chapters. There’s also train lines. Train. Lines. Guys. No, guys. Just… no, guys.

I recommend picking this one up. If it’s cheap, that is. It’s likely out of print, or soon will be. Very few manga have black leads, so you could try this solely based on that interest. And as far as protagonists, you could do far worse than Issac. He has passion, even if it gets exaggerated, and he’s the Goofus to all the Gallants we thought too nerdy to hang out with. The art is bad, but again, I’ve never been good with such things. And the story is directionless, although everything is tied together. At the very least, it’s a C+ of manga.

Happy 5th Anniversary, dudettes. Also dudes.

ChocoMimi

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An adorable 4koma with more adult themes than the mainstream of the same genre, AND my copy came with free stickers? Hello, Battle Royale? I found a manga more badass than you.

To wash out the bitter taste of vegetables clinging to my palette from last review, let’s type about ChocoMimi, a manga which is more than meets the eye. VizKids, sure. Cute characters and themes to the point of vomiting? I agree with you people, but I’ve also seen what ChocoMimi has to offer.

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Actually, despite sweets on the cover and the name “Choco,” it’s not sickeningly sweet. Or candy-centered, at that. Two best friends have conversations, with a gradually increasing cast.

There’s Choco, the straightman. There’s Mimi, the silly one. Basic dynamic. They have a teacher, Mr. Take, who has an odd relationship with Mimi. It’s not sexual, but Mimi does hit on him an awful lot. “Hit on” means “butter him up”. The dynamic is… well, look.

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See, she’s using feminine wiles, but it feels off. Like, creepy to look at.

Later on, we’re introduced to Ando/Andrew, who becomes Choco’s love interest. He’s great. The stotic, but also dips into the silly sometimes. But if Ando is Choco’s love interest, Mimi needs one, right? How about Mumu? No, really. Mimi and Mumu.

According to the author, Mumu is the breakout character, or “Ensemble Darkhorse” if you trope. He dresses like a girl sometimes, check. He’s a meaner version of Mimi, lines up. But he can also be nice to her, you bet. Also has stars in his eyes, DING DING DING! Yep, his traits align with popular Japanese characters and tropes. Almost borders on shameful how tailored he is to the demographic.

There’s others, like Chiffon, Mimi’s dog. He’s hilarious. Everyone is, but he particularly cracks me up. His misunderstandings stand out more than other dogs that understand humans (believing he needs to shake with hands, not paws, bumming him out), realizing horrible truths (how feminine his ears look when he sees Choco’s pigtails), and calling Mimi out (she put his doghouse in a tree). This is one manga going to the dogs! OH, it means as food scraps! Not that “The Dogs Shall Inherit the Earth!” No, it’s a good manga!

To understand ChocoMimi’s basic form of humor, here’s one strip.

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Misleading jokes! They’re not all like this, but they do take up a great deal of the jokes. It’s done in different ways. Mimi misleads Choco into believing she finds English confusing, but she actually find the relationship between two example characters confusing. How about when Ando refuses to be in a band with the others unless they learn to play? They each “practice” in the wrong way (Choco studies the instruments themselves, Mumu on how to pump up the audience, and Mimi on how to be a diva). If you like the style of humor, this is your manga. If not, well, they are quite varied.

One thing that bugs me is Ando and Choco’s relationship. Early on, they admit their feelings, but from then on each acts like they know nothing. I am a little put off that each girl fell for someone like themselves. Hacky at best.

Hey, but what manga is complete without an anime? This one, but it does have something else.

If it’s not there anymore, take my word that it was a ChocoMimi live-action series! Yeah! Why? Also, I don’t know who some of the others are, as I’ve read only volume one. The show looks cute, and I think Mimi was a great match. I guess it makes as much sense as Dennis the Menace being a show.

As for the manga, seven volumes so far in Japan since 2003, but that’s Wikipedia and I’m doubting that only a smidge. Viz has gone on record stating they wouldn’t publish past the fifth volume, so this is one of those “great if you can find it” manga. Bittersweet, it seems.

Mixed Vegetables (Full Series Review)

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This review has spoilers. It also has weird side-rants. Be aware.

Picture this: 2010. Just started buying my own manga and uploading reviews. Anything was possible and the world bowed down to let me get a closer look. Teachers spouting societal misdemeanors. Cats making ramen, Gunsmith Cats shooting vermin. I could have bought whatever I wanted.

Yet I fell for Mixed Vegetables, a romance/comedy/drama manga by Viz. Well, it doesn’t take a wiz to read an entire manga series, but when you have a few more days in America to buy and read it, you get a little desperate to pick it up sooner than later.

Let’s put a pin in that.

“Mixed Vegetables” by Ayumi Komura is about a teenage girl who wants to be a sushi chef. I was already sold on the premise by that. As the manga points out, girls don’t often like fish, and from personal experience, I can relate. Not that her being an aspiring female sushi chef is the focus, just being a girl who just happens to like fish. Hanayu decides to latch onto Hayato, the son of a sushi chef, so she can marry into the family and learn the trade. However, she ends up falling for him. When Hanayu comes clean, Hayato reveals he was using her to get into baking, as her father is a patisserie. Will these two makeup, or will they be angry at each other for the remaining 7 volumes? If you chose the former, it’s also the latter.

Unpinning, I loved this series. When I first read it, Hayato’s reveal at the end of the first volume shocked and delighted me, so I needed more. So I bought more. These days, I tend to stick to only reading the first volume, so, as I hadn’t read MV in years, I assumed it must have had something wonderful in it. Repinning.

Let’s go for the positives. The humor hits well. The jokes make me laugh, but I wonder if it’s more relief from the drama than the strength of the joke. I think the last few volumes were the funniest, but that might have been because the drama was built up way too much that I was relieved to see an emotion other than anger.

Nice little moments tend to thrive in this manga, again, because of the overwhelming melodrama. Hanayu’s brother meeting a girl in France, Hanayu’s best friend and Hayato’s best friend falling in love, a patron of Hayato’s family’s restaurant talking about his daughter’s wedding…

Okay, it’s love stuff, but, and I need to bludgeon this, it serves as a great offset for the main story line. Komura’s strong suit is small details in writing. In writing, not in art.

Less Strong, but not Bad, is her art. The lines don’t do much for me, and Komura admits (she admits everything in the manga bonuses) she can’t draw older men well. Which is odd, because Hayato’s grandfather looks top-notch to me. It’s just that she won’t draw older men. Both Hanayu and Hayato’s father married young, which is the excuse for them to look 30 and hot. I suspect it’s a preference, not the inability she claims. She also won’t draw older women, as the mothers are young. But Hanayu’s mother is completely out of focus, only there to not be dead, I guess.

Too much screen-tone for my taste. I know it’s a common technique in Shojo, but it only distracts from the characters who are thinly-sketched. The food, while not poorly-drawn, is forgettable. That could have benefited more from screen-tone.

“Unpin,” I said to my brother. “I refuse to put a pin in the series for a whole year abroad.” Tossing his trimmed yet unrestricted locks around, glaring deep, deep into the depths of his monitor, my brother breathed the words I was bound to hear. “I don’t want to go.” Smokily, as if I was nothing more than a leech in his world of the road, he swallowed his arrogance, realization dawning that desperation can birth deals.

“If you drive me to the mall to buy Mixed Vegetables Volume 8,” shuddering at my brother’s cruelty, eyeing the odd figures playing on his monitor, “I’ll watch Homestar Runner every day.” This proposition struck my brother. He had been trying to get me to watch, and now he could drag me in. “Between 10 to 15 videos episodes okay with you?” He twisted my arm, and I had not the restraint nor internal fire to fight this demon back, back to the lands that birth opportunists.

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I absolutely adore Homestar Runner now. I plan on selling Mixed Vegetables 2-8 after this review. He made me sign a document and everything, and I keep it in the last volume. It’ll go in the first. I’m a big believer in keeping volume one.

The flaw, the writing mistake of the series, is this: Everyone is a control-freak.

Off the top of my head, out of order:

1. Hanayu’s teacher tells her she thinks baking should be Hanayu’s career-path, not sushi. (She immediately goes back on that statement, but still.)
2. Hanayu’s father freaks out when she tells him sushi, not baking, is her passion.
3. Hayato withholds the paper that could bring her back to the sushi store, since he’s angry at her.
4. Hayato’s father bosses Hanayu around at his store more than usual because she won’t break up with his son.
5. Hanayu’s best friend gives her the cold shoulder (for a chapter) because Hanayu didn’t tell her she started dating Hayato. Then they make up. What was the point?
6. Hayato’s mother kicks her son and his girlfriend out for a week to study exams. To prove a point, Hanayu says she can balance work and school, and agrees to never come back if she fails one exam. She fails one and regrets it.

It’s weak, it’s cheap, it’s repetitive and it’s unfair to the other writing conventions of dramatic buildup. Every single problem in this manga could be resolved if, instead of shutting up like a passive-aggressive clam, they spoke to one another like adults.

For example, the only series-long conflict is the fact that Hayato hasn’t told his parents he wants to bake. But his late grandfather said some things that affected Hayato, and that’s why he won’t come clean. But with Hanayu wanting to make sushi and her father going to France to bake, he has a motive, a drive, a, a… He told them eventually and, in an instant, they told him it was fine. Apparently the grandfather told Hayato’s parents he feared he may have said too much to the young Hayato, and assumed he’d forget. Conflict and drama equal worthless.

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The thing about Strong Bad is, despite being impatient, arrogant, and a rouser of rabble, he always says what’s on his mind. He can see faults in everyone, but he gets along with everyone at some point or another. Why? Because he’s open. He knows the world and its flawed media tropes, but can work with it to benefit himself. He’s occasionally trusting to a fault because he is open, willing to speak his mind, and that helps him make bonds you wouldn’t think of, like a band with his brother or rapping with Coach Z.

Then there’s Mixed Vegetables. The entire premise is based on lies. Hanayu is the protagonist, but she doesn’t seem worthy of the role. It’s interesting to see a shojo heroine manipulative, but pairing her up with the shojo male lead, also manipulating by nature, feels wrong.

Look at their best friends. She’s sullen but emotional, and can throw humans like bread. He’s often ignored, but he can work up to his own strengths if he has someone to protect. And they’re adorable together, in both two chapters and the last bonus story! I know “masculine girl/feminine guy” has been done to death, but it’s done so well here!

Our actual leads aren’t cute. She’s headstrong without kindness. He’s brooding and cheeky, but it comes off as a multiple personality disorder. And when he’s mean to Hanayu, it’s too much.  In fact his couple phrase is “Only I get to make you cry.” The context is because she loves him so much, but really? It’s just creepy.

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The series is called Mixed Vegetables because of sushi, but what about cake? I don’t know, people make too much of a big deal about the future of baking and sushi preparation. It’s not like Hanayu wants to be a lawyer and Hayato a DJ. “We’re from two different worlds!” No, you’re from two different ends of a menu. Fish in the appetizers, cake in the desserts. Bon appetit.

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On top of that, Komura pulls a few cheap tricks in lieu of engaging drama:

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-Most chapters end with some cliffhanger, only for the next chapter to reveal “It was a joke!” When Hayato’s father tells Hanayu she should break up with his son, the next chapter has him laugh it off as if it never happened. But he did mean it, so he bullies her. Yeah, much better than talking it through. The teacher tells her not to make sushi. Next chapter? “Sorry, ah, that’s not my place!” Hayato’s mother: “You’re banned from the store!” Next time we get, “Because it’s finals week!” Why write so much drama if you don’t stick to it?

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-Maezawa, Hanayu’s father’s assistant, is made for drama. He flirts with Hanayu, while Hayato, unbeknownst to Hanayu, is watching them. He assumes the wrong thing and leaves. Hanayu punches Maezawa. Then Maezawa tells Hayato he wants to take Hayanu to France with him. Hayato, dummy he is, volunteers in her place. Maezawa was actually instructed to invite Hayato by Hanayu’s father, while she stays at the sushi restaurant. Then in France, it turns out he’s married and is not attracted to Hanayu. So basically, everything he does is pointless and antagonistic for no reason. But really, I have a theory…

-Komura made it up as she went. If she wrote the sushi dad outright telling Hanayu to stop dating his son, then the bullying would seem deliberate. It was, but not to Hanayu. With Maezawa, Hanayu “forgot to mention” he was married. Sometimes that can be beneficial for writing, but it’s a sin here. It also wrecks the ending, which even I, five years later, despise.

Granted, characterization, negative and positive, are well-done. But it’s not meaningful when only two people get focus. We get side stories for the fathers, kids, friends, teachers. Brief chapters devoted to one subject: Love. There’s other conflicts out there, right? But not here, as every character with less than eight wrinkles falls in love by the end of the manga.

Hanayu is great for tomboyish reactions.

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But it’s hard to side with her when she uses love as a stepping stone for work. Hayato may not be the nicest guy, but he doesn’t deserve this treatment. He did claim he was using her, but that was to shut her out gently. Still, his best friend says he does that a lot. It’s an interesting negative quirk, but it comes off a bit lopsided. It never really comes out once it’s revealed.

At the end of the series, we get a montage of some characters’ lives, but not enough of them. Spoiler finale time: Both focus on work instead of love, but maintain some kind of relationship.

Okay, problem. It’s boring. These two are essentially the same, but they don’t diverge. Young parents who run a food business, expect kid to take over, rebels, only falls in love with one person ever. Why have both successful? The food industry is enormous, and not everyone can hack it. Or maybe they wanted a new dream, a dream that lets them coexist? Or maybe establish their relationship beyond a hug, huh? Even when they dated, the highlight of their relationship was walking Hanayu home. We never get a good reason why she loves him outside of being new to love, or why they still have each other as adults. I do like how her parents say they were an arranged marriage but fell in love. But could Hanayu feel the same if she were around Hayato enough? I doubt it. They don’t really love each other. And I don’t love Mixed Vegetables. I’m gonna go sell me volumes 2 to 8.

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