Manga Lovers Unite! Happy New Year / マンガラバーズ団結せよ! あけおめことよろ(あけましておめでとう)編

Yoko Hata, Young Adult Librarian, Little Tokyo Branch Library,
collection of manga comics covers

Happy New Year!

In Japan, we eat "Osechi" on New Year's Day. Osechi are easily recognizable by their special stackable boxes called jūbako. They look similar to bentō boxes, but usually come in three tiers. Each food has its own meaning, and eating these in the New Year is said to bring health and happiness for the months ahead. Today I'd like to introduce some delicious manga. In Japan, it is a category called "gourmet manga". 

Osechi Japanese new years food

In the 1970s, the first gourmet manga that showed up in Japan were called Totsugeki Ramen and Short Cake Cake, but the popularity of Oishinbo by Tetsu Kariya and Cooking Papa by Tochi Ueyama in the 1980s is said to be the beginnings of the present-day gourmet manga. Here are some recent favorites.

What Did You Eat Yesterday? By Fumi Yoshinaga (昨日何食べた?)

Have you ever read a manga that makes you so hungry or makes you want to make a meal? Then this is the book for you. There is an episode about food each chapter, and you can find the recipe at the end of every chapter. There is no doubt that you can make your dinner deliciously with easy-to-obtain materials. The author herself loves cooking, and she goes through a whole trial and error herself to make sure the recipes are good. This year, they will make TV series based on this manga. I am looking forward to seeing it on TV!

Delicious in Dungeon by Ryoko Kui (ダンジョン飯)

This is a little bit of an unusual gourmet manga. It is a story about making do with the items in your nearby area to create your meals. For these dungeon masters that means monsters! Just reading it is a little creepy, but as you continue in the volumes, it is strange, but you will find yourself wanting to eat various monsters.

Sweetness and Lightning by Gido Amagakure (甘々と稲妻 )

This slice of life manga is about food and family and follows a girl named Tsumugi who has just lost her mother, and about her dad, Kouhei Inuzuka (a high school teacher), who cannot yet accept the reality that he has lost his wife. The thought of Tsumugi eating only convenience store lunches motivates Kouhei to attempt to make her delicious homecooked meals. Kouhei’s student, named Kotori Ilda whose family runs a restaurant, joins the pair and begins to help out teaching father and daughter how to prepare nourishing meals (not made in a microwave). The bond between the Kouhei and Tsumugi gradually gets stronger. Recipes are included with every volume.

Silver Spoon by Hiromu Arakawa (銀の匙 )

This manga takes place at a fictional agricultural high school in Hokkaido, and is written by Hiromu Arakawa famous for her work Fullmetal Alchemist. The main character, Yugo Hachiken did not enter high school full of hope, and so he enrolled in an agricultural high school without any motives thinking it would be an easy ride. While engaging with friends and animals he meets there, our protagonist learns more about himself as the story progresses. I am impressed with the delicious meal depictions in this manga. But more than that, it is a story that makes me more grateful for the food that we eat, and most of us take for granted. It is a manga that I want many teens to read!

I’d also like to share with you manga titles which haven't been translated into English yet. [The Japanese titles can be found at the Little Tokyo Branch Library].

Hana no Zuborameshi by Masayuki Kusumi and Etsuko Mizusawa (花のズボラ飯 水沢悦子作)

Hana’s husband is far away from home on an assignment from work. Hana fills her lonely days working part-time at a bookstore. Every day, Hana’s makes meals that are fast and easy to cook; in other words, sloppy cooking! Many instant food recipes are introduced here, but that doesn't mean they don't taste good. if you look at Hana's face when she is eating such dishes, you also might get hungry. Masayuki Kusumi, who created the “Kodoku no Gurume” (Kodoku no Gourmet) series, also worked on this manga, and there is no shortage of delicious recipes here as well.

Sachi no Oteragohan by Ayami Kanemori (サチのお寺ごはん かねもりあやみ作)

This manga is also supported by Masayuki Kusumi, so in other words, every dish looks delicious. The main character, Sachi, is 27 years old. She does not expect anything in life, besides eating a convenience store meal every day. Her diet and lifestyle change little by little when she is introduced to a neighboring temple and its people.

Maiko-san no Makanaisan by Aiko Koyama (舞妓さんちのまかないさん 小山愛子作)

16-year-old Kiyo-chan, longing to become a Maiko-san, (a traditional Japanese performer), comes to Kyoto from Aomori. Kiyo-chan is told to give up on becoming a Maiko, because of her personality, and to return to Aomori. Just at that precise moment, the old woman who is in charge of the Maikos' everyday meals collapses. Kiyo-chan takes over as the caterer of the Maiko troupes' everyday meals. What Kiyo-chan makes for the Maiko's meals are not only very easy to cook every day but also hearty home cooking. Please enjoy recipes of homemade dishes that can be easily made with the cute Kiyo-chan.

Let’s enjoy manga this year, too!



three trays of Japanese foods for New Years


きのう何食べた? よしながふみ作 (What Did You Eat Yesterday?)


ダンジョン飯 久井諒子作 (Delicious in Dungeon)


甘々と稲妻 雨隠ギド作(Sweetness and Lightning)


銀の匙 荒川弘作 (Silver Spoon)



花のズボラ飯 原作:久住昌之 作画:水沢悦子 (Hana no Zuborameshi)


サチのお寺ごはん かねもりあやみ作 原案協力:久住昌之 (Sachi no Oteragohan)

このマンガも久住昌之が関わっているので、どのお料理も美味しそうです。 主人公のサチは27歳です。彼女は毎日コンビニエンスストアのお弁当を食べること以外に、彼女自身の人生に何も期待していません。サチはお寺の人々、食事に出会ったことにより、食生活、日々の生活が少しずつ変化していきます。

舞妓さんちのまかないさん 小山愛子作 (Maiko-sanchi no Makanaisan)