Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mixed Vegetables (manga, vol. 3) by Ayumi Komura, translated by JN Productions

Mixed Vegetables is a food and romance manga series. It's licensed by VIZ.

Review:

I reviewed the first two volumes of this series ages ago. For those who need a refresher: Hanayu is a pastry chef's daughter but secretly dreams of being a sushi chef, and Hayato is a sushi chef's son who secretly dreams of being a pastry chef. At the end of the previous volume, Hanayu learned that the sushi chef who made the first sushi she ever ate and who inspired her dream was Hayato's father.

In this volume, Hayato takes Hanayu to his family's sushi restaurant. Hayato's father takes an immediate shine to her and tells her she can work part-time at his restaurant. It's an exciting offer and prompts Hanayu to finally tell her father about her dream. Unfortunately, the news doesn't go over well, and Hanayu spends much of the volume worrying that she's being selfish and letting her father and her younger brother (who has the makings of a pro baseball player, as long as he's not expected to inherit the bakery) down. Meanwhile, Hayato still needs to tell his father about his dream, but can he go through with it after seeing how things went for Hanayu?

Ugh. Hanayu's father disappointed me in this volume. I thought he was more easy-going than that. At least it didn't take him too long to start to unbend. And Hanayu's little brother's reaction to the whole thing was sweet.

I liked this quote (although it's a bit awkwardly worded) from Matsuzaka, Hanayu's teacher: “We adults are hopeless. Because we have a little more experience, we tend to look into the future. And we try to push you toward the path that offers the least chance of failure.” (59) It was said by way of apology after telling Hanayu to give up on her dream, and it reminded me of something my mom once told me. However, I did think it was odd that Matsuzaka hadn't already figured out Hanayu's desire to be a sushi chef, what with Hanayu turning every cooking assignment into something sushi-related.

The end of the volume showed Hanayu working at the sushi shop for the first time...as a waitress. Hanayu didn't seem particularly surprised or disappointed, so I guess this was expected? Even if Hanayu wasn't disappointed, I was, a little, especially when her first day mostly involved smiling a lot and dealing with a grabby customer.

Hmm. The main reason I read this volume was because I stumbled across it in a bargain bin. Volume 3 didn't do much to change my opinion that this is a “meh” series – not exactly bad, but forgettable. I'm kind of amazed that Komura managed to stretch this series out to 8 volumes, since all that's really left is for Hayato to tell his father that he wants to be a pastry chef and for everyone to decide what they're going to do about the two family-owned shops. I predict that Hanayu and Hayato will marry and become the heirs of each other's family shops.

At the moment, I don't plan on making any kind of special effort to continue reading this series. If I stumble across volume 4 at some point, I'll read it, but I have plenty of other manga series I'm looking forward to reading more.

Extras:

Several author sidebars, a 3-page flashback manga showing Hayato's father's POV of little Hanayu's first visit to a sushi shop, and 2 pages of translator's notes.

Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
  • Yakitate!! Japan (manga) by Takashi Hashiguchi - There is zero romance in this series - it's completely focused on crazy, over-the-top bread-baking competitions. I've written about volumes 11-12.
  • Beauty Pop (manga) by Kiyoko Arai - This is another romantic comedy, but the focus isn't on food. The main characters are three boys who give random girls makeovers, thereby making them feel better about themselves, and Kiri, a girl who happens to be a master hairstylist. Those who like main characters who are obsessively focused on being the best at one particular thing may want to give this a try.
  • Kare Kano (manga) by Masami Tsuda; His and Her Circumstances (anime TV series) - Those who'd like another romantic comedy in which the main characters are lying about who they are and what they want may want to try this. Just be warned, there's also a good bit of drama as the series progresses. Miyazawa is vain and likes to be praised by others, so she works hard to look like a model student and perfect girl. Her greatest rival is Arima, who seems to be the real deal, an actual model student who's good at everything. Then one day Miyazawa and Arima find out the truth about each other.
  • Antique Bakery (manga) by Fumi Yoshinaga; Antique Bakery (anime TV series) - Okay, so this series is nothing like Mixed Vegetables. It stars adults who all end up working in the same Western-style pastry shop, and there is at least as much drama as there is comedy. I added it to this list mostly because it's an excellent food-related series. The pastries are lovely. I want them. I've written about the anime and all four volumes of the manga. Beware: my posts are filled with spoilers.

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