Saturday, November 6, 2021

REVIEW: Giant Spider and Me: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale (manga, vol. 2) by Kikori Morino, translated by Adrienne Beck

Giant Spider and Me is is a post-apocalyptic foodie/slice-of-life series. It's licensed by Seven Seas but may be out of print now - Right Stuf doesn't have volume 2 at all and volumes 1 and 3 are listed as out of stock.


Volume 1 ended with Nagi, Asa, and a traveling peddler (does he have a name yet?) facing off against an armed stranger. In volume 2, the armed "stranger" turns out to be the peddler's daughter, Belle. Once Belle calms down, Nagi goes looking for a carpenter to fix her roof and finds herself up against the townspeople's perceptions of Asa. Somehow, Nagi has to convince everyone that Asa isn't a dangerous monster. And as usual, good meals play an important part in the story.

This is the coziest post-apocalyptic story ever. There are minor moments of distrust and fear, but mostly everyone is nice and willing to be won over by a plate of good food or bowl of warm soup. Speaking of which, although some foods are clearly limited or seasonal, no one seems to be starving or desperately trying to come up with ingredient substitutions. I think the closest we've gotten to that is when Belle asks for a meal with meat, which Nagi doesn't have on hand, and Nagi makes something similar to what Belle asked for using a few blocks of freeze-dried tofu instead.

Once again, there are hints of possible ominous developments, but since both volumes so far have been primarily gentle and cozy, I doubt volume 3 is going to wrap things up with doom and gloom. I'm honestly kind of surprised that volume 3 is going to be the last one, since this feels like the kind of series that could go into the double digits just hyper-focusing on everyone's daily lives. This volume has only just introduced the community Nagi lives near, and both the traveling peddler and the cafe owner (if he has a name, I missed it) could provide a peek into what life is like in other areas of the world.

Speaking of the cafe's that going to work in this post-apocalyptic world? It sounds like money is no longer a thing, and folks operate on a bartering system. Will customers purchase meals with ingredients? I suppose one service the cafe could provide is a meeting space for people to talk and unwind, but since the community seems to have been around for a while and is fairly small, theoretically they already have a place for those activities that suits their needs. Maybe I'm answering my own question about this series' length - it's possible that Morino didn't want to have to deal with some of the inevitable questions about how society functions.

I agree with Belle that Nagi's a little too trusting. At the very least, Nagi should have worked out slightly more detailed terms and conditions for her arrangement with the cafe owner. That said, she's well-known in the community and people seem to like her, so maybe they'd back her up if things went badly. 

The meals made in this volume: tofu karaage, walnut soup, cream stew (which uses 350 grams of chicken - a little hard to believe considering the earlier info and the chicken coop developments), sea bream sashimi, and simmered sea bream carcass. Although the preparation of each meal is depicted in some detail, and the author lists ingredients and approximate amounts, most of the meals aren't something I'd want to attempt with my weak cooking skills. Sashimi has never sounded particularly tempting to me, and making it based solely on the instructions in this manga sounds like a bad idea all around. I'd definitely try the walnut soup or tofu karaage if someone made them for me, though.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this wraps up.


Two full-color illustrations (one of them is used for the cover art), a one-page comic-style afterword by the author, and a two-page bonus comic showing how Belle's night at Nagi's place went.

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