Monday, February 25, 2008

Manga Monday: Antique Bakery

Antique Bakery (Volume 1)
Fumi Yoshinaga

It took awhile for me to get my hands on this book. I placed an order through in early December (since it's out of print through Barnes & Noble), then received a nice little e-mail in early February that they couldn't find a copy. Sigh. Especially frustrating since I saw a copy at a Borders in Minnesota when I went home to visit my family and I certainly would have picked it up then, had I not had an open order. Luckily enough, I was able to get a copy through a second-hand store on, still wrapped in plastic and new, the scratch-and-sniff strawberry on the front unmolested.

I'd heard for awhile that this is a very good manga. And it's true. Antique Bakery is a yaoi manga, pretty light on elements you would usually associate with yaoi. There is a gay character. There is a short scene in a gay bar and there is talk of one talented baker's inexplicable ability to attract any man he desires. But the focus is on the delicious deserts served at the hot bakery that opened up in place of an old antique store, and the eccentric staff that works there. Actually, there's quite a bit of focus on the customers as well, from old high school friends who are beginning to rekindle a friendship, to middle-aged men sneaking away from their families to taste test pastries.
I actually got some of the characters in this book confused with one another, as many of the young men look similar with, for instance, hairstyles that look alike. But those confusing moments that took me out of the moment were sparse and are easy to overlook in light of the beautiful, delicate art and engaging, refreshingly unique story. But in truth, Antique Bakery is kind of odd. It whimsically weaves stories between people's lives as they discover the cafe, what goes on in the kitchen, and past events in characters' lives. The story ventures where it will without really seeming to build toward anything. But it's a lot of fun and everything circles back to the bakery and the love of a well-crafted dessert.


Tintin Pantoja said...

I agree with everything you said except your identifying this as a yaoi manga. Despite the prominent role of a gay character, and subplots involving his relationships, IMHO it's not considered yaoi, or even shonen-ai. Homosexual relationships aren't the main focus of the series.

Dave Ferraro said...

I agree that I wouldn't really classify this as a yaoi manga either. It doesn't feel like one. It's just been referred to me as one, so I addressed it as such and said why I didn't think it read like one. Even Jason Thompson's "Manga: The Complete Guide" refers to Antique Bakery in the yaoi section, though the body of the review is in regular reviews. The prominent role of the gay character just throws people and they don't seem to know how to react/classify it.

white_poem said...

I won't clasify Antique Bakery as yaoi either. After all, it's published under Digital Manga Publishing, not June Manga, so it should be clear enough that this manga is not yaoi. Moreover, it won Kodansha Manga Award for shojo in 2002.