Monday, January 19, 2009

Manga Monday: Mixed Vegetables

Mixed Vegetables (Volume 1)
Ayumi Komura
Mixed Vegetables is a new shojo manga from Viz that follows two aspiring chefs from culinary families. Hanayu is the daughter of a family running a patisserie, but wants to be a sushi chef, while Hayato comes from a sushi family and wants to be a pastry chef. Neither thinks their family will understand their choices and Hanayo schemes to make Hayato fall madly in love with her, to be married into the sushi business, forcing her family to give in to her dreams. Hayato turns out to be a great guy, however, and Hanayu is plagued with guilt as they take classes together in the cooking department of their school.
Hanayu may not be the most likable or admirable protagonist, but she is an interesting one. Often determined and goofy without meaning to be, she is blinded by her aspirations and tries to justify her motives as the guilt overwhelms her (and at crucial times too, like during exams). Hayato is pretty one-dimensional at this point. He's a great chef, the star of the class, and is like any male love interest gracing the pages of other shojo manga. Hopefully that will change with subsequent volumes, but at least this far in, we have Hanayu to root for, even if we don't agree with her misguided choices. Komura's art is competent throughout the book, although it hardly stands out. I'm intrigued enough with Hanayu to keep reading the manga further, but the set-up as is isn't enough to sustain this book for long. I'd like to see some more interesting scenarios play out between the characters in the future, and I'd like to see some examples of Hanayu and Hayato in their family settings that suggest that their parents wouldn't understand their choices for working in other areas of the food industry, because the scenes we've seen involving Hanayu's family show parents extremely understanding and loving toward their daughter. Being the reason behind the scheme of the main characters, I think we need to feel that they are trapped in their positions unless they act, as the characters suggest is the case.

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