Sunday, May 23, 2021

REVIEW: Mixed Vegetables (manga, vol. 4) by Ayumi Komura, translated by JN Productions

Mixed Vegetables is a romance Japanese manga series. Like a depressing number of the manga volumes I own, it appears to be out of print, although it can at least still be purchased digitally if you're willing to read manga that way. I bought this volume used.

This review includes spoilers.


Hanayu agrees to a radish peeling competition against Hayato. If he wins, she has to feed him pastries. If she wins, he'll tell her why he wants to be a pastry chef. Hanayu desperately wants to win, but can she manage it, considering that Hayato's job at the sushi restaurant involves peeling radishes?

Then the story moves on to Saki for the bulk of the volume. He had a crush on his homeroom teacher in high school...who is now Hanayu and Hayato's homeroom teacher, Miss Matsuzaka. Also, he never really got past his crush. However, he can't bring himself to see her, because he's convinced that he's only a bad memory for her, a student who ignored her and did something she considered to be a foolish mistake.

The volume wraps up with a flashback to Hayato's mother's first meeting with Hayato's grandfather.

This was actually fairly decent, despite spending most of its time on a storyline that made me a little uncomfortable. The older I get, the less I seem to like age-gap romances. Or possibly it's more power imbalance romances? At any rate, Saki used to be Miss Matsuzaka's student. There was no indication that they had an inappropriate relationship, although Saki's crush on her was probably pretty obvious. The author made an effort to establish some emotional distance - Miss Matsuzaka opted to start calling Saki "Saki," explicitly categorizing "Ishinagi" as her former student. Also, she didn't let him confess his feelings to her, so it's not like they immediately hooked up. That said, they essentially had a date by the end of the volume, and she was still "Sensei" to him (and kind of intimidated him). So yeah, still a little weird.

I think this is the first time that the ending of a volume in this series has left me really wanting to continue on. I'm curious as to why Hayato still wants to take over his family's sushi shop, even as he keeps saying he wants to be a pastry chef. Especially now that we know his family would be fine with it. Part of me suspects that the answer is something silly, like he feels he owes it to his family or something even though they've told him it's fine. I also wonder about the explanation he gave Hanayu for why he wants to be a pastry chef - it was an incredibly weak reason, and normally I'd suspect him of lying, except that it fits with the general lack of real effort he seems to have put into achieving his supposed dream. 

Either Komura has some interesting surprises in store for readers, or it's all paper thin nonsense designed to provide an easier route to what seems to be the happiest romantic ending: Hayato and Hanayu getting married and running a sushi restaurant together. Hayato running a pastry shop and Hanayu running a sushi shop is also a possibility, I suppose, but I still can't imagine Hayato doing it. He may enjoy eating pastries, but so far I haven't seen much evidence that he enjoys making them even half as much as Hanayu enjoys making sushi. It looks like the series is out of print now, and I don't really buy digital manga, so here's hoping that interlibrary loan checkouts or online spoilers can tell me what's up with Hayato.


A "story thus far" page, author notes at the beginning of each chapter, author sidebars, a few comics devoted to the author's love of the Yakult Swallows (a baseball team), a bonus manga in which Miss Matsuzaka essentially tricks Saki into a date, and two pages of translator's notes.

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