Food Comics and Manga

I’ve been reading a lot of food-focused manga and comics recently. Maybe I’m just a hungry person? I do like food, but really, while these manga and comics share the culinary theme they span some wildly different story-telling territory; from D&D-esque dungeon crawlers, to queer slice-of-life stories, to cooking competitions. Some of these stories even include actual recipes (though a few use fictional ingredients).

Delicious in Dungeon by Ryoko Kui
Follow a band of adventurers as they attempt to rescue a party-member from the dungeon’s infamous red dragon, but not before killing and cooking up other monsters along the way. You can try to make these recipes at home, but you’ll have a difficult time finding all of the ingredients…

Get Jiro! by Anthony Bourdain Continue reading “Food Comics and Manga”

Anime Appreciation: Giants of Anime

I’m going to assume, for the sake of convenience and my ego, that you all read my last post, ‘Anime Appreciation’ and now are craving more. If so, do I have good news for you! If you watch the three anime below you should satisfy your craving and gain the groundwork to hold a discussion with any anime fan.

attack on titan imdb First up we have a literal giant of anime, or more accurately, a Titan with Attack on Titan. Attack on Titan is set in a darkly fantastic post-apocalyptic world where humans hide behind colossal walls as a defense against the Titans, gigantic humanoids whose only motivation seems to be to mindlessly eat humans. The series is essentially a great example of bildungsroman as it focuses on a young trio who are guided by their hatred of the Titans and their desire to see the world beyond the walls and enlist in the military. Continue reading “Anime Appreciation: Giants of Anime”

Rae’s Manga Blitz – Library Wars

Title: Library Wars

Manga Author: Kiiro Yumi

Original Story Author: Hiro Arikawa

Audience: T+ (Older Teen)

Genre: Action, Comedy, Romance, Drama, Political, SF (future)

Summary: “In the near future, the federal government creates a committee to rid society of books it deems unsuitable. The libraries vow to protect their collections, and with the help of local governments, form a military group to defend themselves—the Library Forces! Iku Kasahara has dreamed of joining the Library Defense Force ever since one of its soldiers stepped in to protect her favorite book from being confiscated in a bookstore when she was younger. But now that she’s finally a recruit, she’s finding her dream job to be a bit of a nightmare. Especially since her hard-hearted drill instructor seems to have it in for her!” Continue reading “Rae’s Manga Blitz – Library Wars”

Nightstand Reads: Matthew Amster-Burton

When I’m sick, sad, or don’t know what to eat for lunch, I always turn to Asian food for comfort. Usually it’s some kind of spicy noodles, like pad Thai or the Tetsu Hell Fire dipping ramen at Samurai noodle, a dish you can’t eat without looking like a barbarian. Similarly, when I wander into the dining room at night for something to read, I pull down a book from the Asian food shelf.

Sometimes my hand finds a classic cookbook like Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s Hot Sour Salty Sweet or Shizuo Tsuji’s Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art. Lately I’ve spent a lot of time curled up with David Thompson’s epic Thai Street Food, which is heavy enough to put a dent in your lap, but it’s worth it. Most often, however, I want a volume of Oishinbo, a long running Japanese comic book (manga) series of which, sadly, only seven greatest-hit volumes have been translated into English.

Oishinbo follows the misadventures of Shiro Yamaoka, a lazy, hot-tempered reporter at a top Tokyo newspaper. The food-obsessed Yamaoka has been put in charge of the paper’s Ultimate Menu project, and he travels around Japan collecting examples of the best dishes the nation has to offer, from humble to refined. In the process, he repeatedly butts heads with his estranged father, a renowned gourmet.

The series offers little in terms of character development. For one thing, because the English translations are anthologies, they jump around in time, which spoils the will-they-won’t-they plot involving Yamaoka and a coworker. (Will they? Wait, they already did? What?)

But all the heart and humanity of Oishinbo is in the food. I’ve discovered some of my favorite dishes in the pages of this comic, like the summer noodle salad hiyashi chuka, and a more wintry one-pot meal of rice, chicken, Chinese sausage, and fennel called takikomi gohan. (This one appears in the Oishinbo: Joy of Rice volume when the buffoonish managing editor of the newspaper bans mixed-rice dishes from the cafeteria on the grounds that they muddle the minds of journalists. Naturally, Yamaoka leads an employee revolt.)

Yamaoka and his father (who is assembling a competing greatest-hits menu) face off in frequent Iron Chef-style cooking contests. In Oishinbo: Ramen & Gyoza, during a brutal Chinese dumpling battle, Yamaoka’s dad sneers that any idiot (this means you, Yamaoka) can make boiled or fried gyoza, so he has made delicately steamed gyoza. (This is really dramatic. Trust me.) Yamaoka counters with boiled gyoza plus a surprise: dessert gyoza! The battle is a rare draw; usually Yamaoka loses so the reader can keep rooting for the underdog.

There are over 100 issues of Oishinbo in Japanese, where Yamaoka has been feuding deliciously with his father since 1983. The existence of these books is so tantalizing that I’ve been toying with the idea of trying to learn Japanese in order to read the rest of the series.

Learning a new language in order to read a food book is the sort of thing Shiro Yamaoka might do, if he weren’t busy napping at his desk.

 Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater author Matthew Amster-Burton joins other food writers at The Scoop on Food to discuss creating and writing about Pacific Northwest cuisine (at the Central Library on Thursday, November 10, at 7 p.m.) The Scoop on Food is presented in partnership with The Seattle Times. Thank you, Matthew, for being our guest blogger today!


Maybe it will make sense now: ‘The Manga Guide to Calculus’

Even though the library’s digital book service Safari Books Online hasn’t been at the forefront of my pleasure reading (no page-turning fiction to be found here!), I thought I’d take a look through it the other day — maybe there would be SOMETHING in it for me. I immediately liked that you don’t have to download any software to use it, and you don’t have to check the books out. You just go to the site, put in your card number and PIN, and read the book on the screen. Easy.

mg_calculus_bigBut the topics— not so easy looking! Databases, hardware, IT management — forget those. I clicked on E-Commerce, thinking of shopping online… And on the first page, there it was: The Manga Guide to Calculus. WHAT? Of course I had to read more — and it’s amazing! Here’s the story line (yes, it has a story line): “Noriko is just getting started as a junior reporter for the Asagake Times. She wants to cover the hard-hitting issues, like world affairs and politics, but does she have the smarts for it? Thankfully, her overbearing and math-minded boss, Mr. Seki, is here to teach her how to analyze her stories with a mathematical eye. In The Manga Guide to Calculus , you’ll follow along with Noriko as she learns that calculus is more than just a class designed to weed out would-be science majors.”

Even if I didn’t want to learn the calculus (which I didn’t), it was fascinating just to see how they presented it using manga characters and art. Not only that, but there are five more titles in the Manga Guides series! Molecular Biology, anyone?