• Thrilling School Drama

    [From March Issue 2015]

    In this comedy YAMAGUCHI Kumiko is an unconventional teacher working at Shirokin Gakuin boy’s high school. The title “Gokusen” signifies that Kumiko is both the female heir to a crime syndicate and a school teacher. It was serialized from 2000 through to 2007 in the comic magazine “YOU.” It was adapted into a TV drama and movie, and through these works many actors became well-known.
    A teacher at Shirokin Gakuin – a school with many problem children – Kumiko is put in charge of class four of the second year (junior year). The students proceed to make fun of seemingly mild-mannered Kumiko. One day when student KUMAI Teruo is attacked by senior year students, Kumiko comes to his rescue. Soon everybody comes to adore the hot-headed Kumiko. While helping out Kumiko, student leader SAWADA Shin finds out about Kumiko’s shady background.
    Since her parents died in a traffic accident, Kumiko was left in the care of her grandfather KURODA Ryuichiro from a young age. The Kuroda clan, which her grandfather leads, has an excellent legal adviser called SHINOHARA Tomoya. Owing a debt of gratitude to Kumiko’s grandfather, Shinohara has remained in the underworld and during this time Kumiko has continued to hold a torch for him. Though she has the support of the clan’s henchmen, this romance does not develop.
    As class four year two begins to come together as a group, Shirokin Gakuin’s future becomes uncertain. The school board chairman stops recruiting students for the next fiscal year and it’s rumored that the school is due to close. Angered by the news, Kumiko makes the board chairman write out a contract stating that if the school becomes number one in a sport or in a humanities subject within two months, the closure will be cancelled.
    Though still having difficulty dealing with her students, with the help of the other teachers Kumiko begins to take charge. Kumiko and Sawada set up a boxing club, and challenge Japan’s most prestigious school to a match. Thinking that the team wouldn’t be able to win by playing fair, Kumiko uses underhand methods during the match. After securing a victory Shirokin Gakuin escapes closure.
    During graduation Kumiko’s background come to light and she is forced to resign. Shinohara who has decided to return to Hokkaido because of his father’s illness asks the depressed Kumiko to marry him. But Kumiko elects to part with Shinohara when her students desperately plead with her to attend their graduation. Later, thanks to the efforts of the principal and her co-workers, she returns to Shirokin Gakuin.
    The spirited protagonist is strong in a fight, but when it comes to love is completely clueless. So much so that she isn’t aware of her student Sawada’s affection for her until the last episode. After the series ended, special episodes were published several times. The growth of their mutual affection is depicted in these episodes.
    Text: KAWARATANI Tokiko[2015年3月号掲載記事]



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  • Sci-fi Work that Broadened the Scope of the Manga Medium

    [From February Issue 2015]

    OTOMO Katsuhiro’s masterpiece is regarded as a work that revolutionized the medium of manga in Japan. It introduced a variety of techniques: detailed and realistic depictions; and the effect of a spherical impact in the ground when supernatural powers are used. It was serialized in the weekly publication Young Magazine from 1982 through to 1990. The 1988 animated feature film was a big hit just like the manga. Currently, a live action film adaptation is in progress in Hollywood.
    In December, 1982, a new and unidentified type of bomb explodes in the Kanto area. Triggered by the collapse of Tokyo, World War III begins. Skipping forward 37 years to 2019, the new capital of “Neo Tokyo” stands in Tokyo Bay. While it appears to have regained its prosperity, an unstable situation continues with anti-government guerrillas opposing the police and the military.
    With the Tokyo Olympics to be held the following year, redevelopment of the neglected old city is due to begin. While KANEDA Shotaro is driving down the highway towards the old city with his motorcycle gang, a strange boy with white hair and a wrinkled face suddenly appears on the road before him. SHIMA Tetsuo, who is a member of the gang, is severely injured when he swerves out of the way.
    The boy disappears into thin air right in front of Kaneda. Tetsuo is not hospitalized, but is admitted to a military facility where a series of tests proves that he has dormant supernatural powers. Kaneda meets the boy again by chance and witnesses his mysterious powers. The guerrilla army is investigating supernatural research and abducts the boy from the military facility. Soon Kaneda and Tetsuo come close to discovering the secret behind the government’s supernatural power development project.
    Before the breakout of World War III, a project to develop supernatural powers in humans got underway. Children with artificially developed abilities were called Numbers. However, the abilities of Akira – one of these Numbers – accidentally destroyed Tokyo. The real identity of the new kind of bomb was Akira. After this, the military continued to suppress Akira.
    Desiring this incredible power, Tetsuo forcibly wakes Akira. The government and the military are at odds over the issue of Akira. Guerilla forces and new cults also get involved and a struggle ensues. In the midst of this chaos, Akira again unleashes his powers and Neo Tokyo is demolished. Tetsuo absorbs Akira’s powers and builds his Great Empire of Tokyo on the ruins of Neo Tokyo.
    With Akira by his side, Tetsuo’s powers rapidly develop. To compensate, his body undergoes a strange mutation. Kaneda stands in the way of the suffering Tetsuo. Should Tetsuo – who has started to become a monster with his powers going out of control – be destroyed or saved? Does Akira, who sympathizes with Tetsuo, finally end up destroying the Earth? The curtain rises on the final battle. This work continues to exert an influence in all kinds of media.
    Text: HATTA Emiko[2015年2月号掲載記事]


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  • Bygone Days Still Beautiful

    [From January Issue 2015]

    Honey and Clover
    Set in an art school, this work depicts the exploits of a group of young people who are awkwardly falling in love while trying to puzzle out their own futures. The series started in 2000, and was completed in 2006 after twice switching to different magazines. The animated cartoon televised in 2005 was so popular that a sequel was made the following year, and movie and TV drama adaptations have also been produced.
    Along with his friends, who are attending the same school, TAKEMOTO Yuta lives a carefree life in a rundown apartment. One day he meets a young woman called HANAMOTO Hagumi. Due to enter art school the following academic year, she is on her way to visit her relative, the lecturer HANAMOTO Shuji. Takemoto falls in love the moment he sees Hagumi. However, at the same time, MORITA Shinobu, his senior, is also attracted to Hagumi.
    Bowled over by Hagumi, who works on her art as if possessed, Takemoto gradually falls in love. Hagumi is blessed with an innate artistic talent, while Morita’s talents extend even beyond the artistic sphere, so the two are naturally drawn to each other. Takemoto, who considers himself to be mediocre, has an inferiority complex, so his heart is shaken by conflicting feelings of admiration and frustration towards the two.
    Takemoto gradually realizes that Hagumi is experiencing a lot of pressure and is feeling isolated. Because she’s been praised for her talents from a young age, her classmates keep their distance from her, so until she meets Takemoto, she has no friends. Rather than force his feelings onto her, Takemoto decides to watch over Hagumi. In order to regain what she was unable to acquire before, Hagumi makes wonderful memories with Takemoto and friends.
    Their limited school days draw to a close. While those around him choose their future careers, Takemoto’s job search falters and he buckles under the stress. In the end he repeats the year, postponing his graduation. When he finally obtains a promise of employment, the company goes bankrupt, so a brooding Takemoto sets off on an aimless bicycle trip. After spending a long period traveling, Takemoto sorts out his feelings and returns to his friends. And, though knowing that he will be rejected, he confesses his feelings to Hagumi.
    Having considered Takemoto to be a close friend, Hagumi is perplexed. Additionally, just before graduation, a tragic event befalls Hagumi. Both Takemoto and Morita reach out to support Hagumi, but the decision that Hagumi arrives at massively alters her relationship with them.
    The suffering caused by being unable to let someone know you like them and the angst that comes from being unable to visualize one’s own future are experiences anyone can identify with. Both for those people who hold something dear to their heart and for those who never look back, there is meaning in time spent together. This is what this story teaches us.
    Text: HATTA Emiko[2015年1月号掲載記事]


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  • 寄生生物との戦いを通じて生命の意味に迫る

    [From Decemberber Issue 2014]

    This manga depicts a fight against mysterious creatures that have infiltrated human society. After being serialized in 1989 in special editions of Morning Open, it was then run in Monthly Afternoon from 1990 to 1995. Translations have been published in other countries, making Parasyte well regarded both within and outside Japan. An animated TV series went on air in October 2014 and the first live action film adaptation will be released in November.
    The story begins with a voiceover narrated by an unknown person: “This thought popped into the head of someone on Earth: ‘If the human population shrank to half its size, how many forests would be left unscathed?’”
    They came from the sky one night. Eggs rained down all over the world, hatched, and leech-shaped creatures entered human bodies through their noses and earholes. By latching onto the brain, they control the whole body, and acting on instinct, feed on other human bodies through their host. By utilizing their heightened learning abilities, they learn to speak and infiltrate human society.
    IZUMI Shinichi is attacked by a parasyte, but, because it entered his body through his right hand, he manages to keep it from reaching his brain. It does, however, manage to take over Shinichi’s right arm. So Shinichi has no other choice but to live with the parasyte. That right hand calls itself Migi “because it’s a migite” (right hand in Japanese).
    Meanwhile, murders carried out by parasytes begin to occur. Confronted by reports of cruel crimes involving devoured bodies, Shinichi wonders whether he should reveal the truth. But Migi won’t allow it, insisting that its safety and Shinichi’s must come first. The parasytes continue to catch and devour more and more humans until one day, Shinichi is stabbed in the heart when his own mother becomes host to a parasyte. Migi saves him, but his mother dies and this takes a huge toll on him both mentally and physically.
    Eventually humans discover that the parasytes are behind these incidents and the battle between parasytes and humans begins. People sometimes suspect that Shinichi has been taken over by a parasyte, and, after encountering different kinds of parasytes and humans, he himself is unsure where his loyalties lie. Uncertain whether they are mankind’s enemies, he becomes reluctant to kill parasytes.
    Is it a crime for the parasytes to prey on humans? If so, isn’t it also a crime for humans to kill and eat other creatures? Isn’t there any way for parasytes and humans to coexist? Asked these questions, time and again by parasytes and humans, Shinichi naturally ponders this dilemma himself. Shinichi witnesses the suffering of both humans and parasytes, until the true enemy finally appears; the conclusion Shinichi finally comes to is a massive shock. The Japanese title “Kiseiju,” which means parasitic beast, contains a message that crosses generations.
    Text: HATTA Emiko[2014年12月号掲載記事]

    物語は、誰が言ったともわからないナレーションから始まります。「地球上の誰かがふと思った。『人間の数が半分になったら いくつの森が焼かれずにすむだろうか……』」。

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  • 二人のヒロインの恋と友情物語

    [From Novemberber Issue 2014]


    © 矢沢漫画制作所/集英社
    NANA, Cover of issue 1.
    Written by YAZAWA Ai. Published by Shueisha Inc.

    Brought up in a normal family, KOMATSU Nana’s (nicknamed Hachi) sole aim in life is to fall in love. OSAKI Nana, however, has led a lonely existence since she was abandoned by her mother when she was young. This is the story of the friendship that develops between two girls named Nana who strive to live their lives to the fullest despite getting wounded in love.
    Hachi first encounters Nana on the shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo; Hachi is going to stay with her boyfriend, while Nana is hoping to make it big as a vocalist in a punk band. Since they are both 20 years old and have the same name, they hit it off and decide to share a flat together. Nana starts a band, but Hachi gets deeply hurt by the betrayal of her boyfriend. With Nana’s support Hachi recovers, and the bond between the two deepens.
    The two main characters influence one other. Nana used to go out with Ren – who was in the same band and is now the star of a popular band. After they split up, they lost touch. Hachi who has been dependent on love and is spoiled by those around her, begins to stand on her own two feet after meeting Nana. Nana meets Ren again with the help of Hachi. They reaffirm their continuing affection for one another.
    Supported by Hachi, Nana channels her passion into her band’s live performances. As the lovers get back together, collaboration between the two bands begins. For Hachi, who was originally a fan of Ren’s band, it feels like a dream.
    Nana is narrated with the present day drama being carried out alongside flash-forwards into the future and flashbacks of the past. Nana portrays its protagonists as real life women with weaknesses and a selfish side. In the story, just when each of them finds happiness, ironically a crisis is visited on their friendship. The people around them get caught up in this, leading to an unexpected development.
    Serialization of this manga began in 2000 in the magazine Cookie; subsequently 21 volumes were published. In 2005 the live-action adaptation was a big hit with more than three million people going to see the movie. Since translated versions were released in the United States, Germany, France, and other countries, it has gained ardent fans in many countries. Its broad appeal seems to be in its universal themes of strong friendship and disappointment in love that surpass differences of language and culture.
    Serialization was halted by the sudden illness of the author in 2009, so the story has not yet concluded. This May, a short comic based on the original story was published. This has raised hopes among fans that this will provide the impetus for the story to be resumed.
    Text: KAWARATANI Tokiko[2014年11月号掲載記事]

    © 矢沢漫画制作所/集英社


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  • 競技かるたの魅力を広めたまんが

    [From October Issue 2014]

    “Chihayafuru” is the story of a high school girl who becomes passionate about “competitive karuta.” This competition utilizes traditional Hyakunin Isshu playing cards. Selected in the Kamakura era by the court aristocrat FUJIWARA no Teika, a set of Hyakunin Isshu playing cards is a collection of the 100 best waka (Japanese poems) written between the Asuka era (sixth to eighth centuries) and the Kamakura era (twelfth to fourteenth centuries). The set is called Hyakunin (one hundred people) Isshu (one poem) because one poem was chosen from each poet.
    There are two kinds of karuta sets: yomifuda (reading cards) and torifuda (playing cards). Torifuda only have the shimonoku (the second half of the poem) written on them. In competitive karuta, players compete for torifuda. If they can touch a playing card in their opponent’s territory, they can pass a playing card in from their territory to the opponent’s territory. Players compete to eliminate the playing cards in their home territory as fast as possible. It’s a taxing “sport” that requires quick thinking and reactions, since players need to immediately touch the torifuda when the first half of the poem – which is not written on the torifuda – is read out. It is generally played one-on-one but there are also individual and team competitions.
    The story begins when Chihaya, the main character, is in sixth grade. She is proud of her beautiful older sister, for whom she has hopes of one day winning a Japanese beauty pageant. However, Arata, a new student at her school, tells her that this is not a true ambition as she isn’t aspiring for something herself. Arata’s own ambition is to become a top “meijin” (master) of competitive karuta.
    In fact, having won the title of meijin seven times in a row, Arata’s grandfather was an “eisei meijin” (grand master in perpetuity).” Arata has also demonstrated that he’s an able player by winning the national championships each year for his age group from first grade to fifth grade. Inspired by Arata, Chihaya begins to nurse ambitions of becoming queen (top) in the women’s division. She gets her bosom buddy Taichi involved and the three begin to improve on entering the local competitive karuta club. However, after they graduate from elementary school the threesome is broken up when Arata returns to Fukui Prefecture and Taichi enters a private junior high school.
    The story jumps forward four years. Chihaya and Taichi are reunited on entering the same high school. Though the two of them have distanced themselves from karuta during their junior high school years, they start up a karuta club at their high school. Chihaya’s interest in the meaning of these Japanese poems grows. In addition, by strategizing together as a unit, she begins to reflect on what it means to take a card as a team.
    Meanwhile, Chihaya tries to persuade Arata, who had given up competitive karuta, to come back to the karuta world. Because Taichi has taken care of Chihaya since their elementary school days and because Arata becomes aware that Chihaya is a worthy rival, the relationship between the three develops a passionate side.
    Since Hyakunin Isshu is often dealt with in classrooms, most Japanese are familiar with it, but competitive karuta was not so well known. Thanks to this comic, the popularity of competitive karuta has dramatically increased and the numbers of competitors has also increased.
    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo











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  • 激動の時代を懸命に生きる人々の物語

    [From September Issue 2014]

    Rurouni Kenshin (Wandering Swordsman Kenshin):
    A Romantic Tale of a Meiji Swordsman
    Set in the closing days of the Edo period (19th century), the main character is HIMURA Kenshin, a master swordsman widely feared as Hitokiri Battosai (Battosai the Killer Swordsman). The tale is set in a dramatic period when the governing Shogunate is overthrown by force and political machinations, bringing about a dramatic change from the Edo period to the Meiji period (the 19th to 20th centuries). This series was published in Weekly Shonen Jump between 1994 and 1999, and it was also adapted into a variety of media, including movies and novels. It’s popular both in Japan and overseas.
    “Rurouni” is a coined word that means “aimless wanderer.” Having carried out assassinations as an anti-Shogunate swordsman, Kenshin is forced to quit because of an unfortunate incident. When the Meiji period arrives, he vows to never kill again, instead becoming a wanderer who travels around the country.
    One day, Kenshin saved a girl named KAMIYA Kaoru in downtown Tokyo. Kaoru has inherited the dojo of Kamiya Kasshin School from her father, however, it is just about to fail financially. Kenshin and Kaoru develop feelings for each other. Now living in Kaoru’s home, he becomes good friends with MYOJIN Yahiko and SAGARA Sanosuke, spending his days peacefully in their company.
    However, his past as a killer relentlessly comes back to haunt him. Because of an incident, Kenshin’s ability becomes known to the authorities, and he began to receive requests to escort military officials. Eventually he is challenged to a duel by UDO Jin-e, a man obsessed with perfecting his deadly swordsmanship. Though Kenshin wins this duel to the death, Jin-e tells him with his dying breath that Kenshin is a killer at heart.
    After some heavy fighting, Kenshin discovers that his instinct as a killer swordsman is reawakening. While fearing that he might lose sight of himself, he resolves to do battle against SHISHIO Makoto, who is plotting to wage war against the Meiji government.
    Just when it seems as if Kenshin has conquered his fear of losing control of himself and going on a killing rampage – that he has finally freed himself from the past – a man named YUKISHIRO Enishi appears. Enishi is the younger brother of Kenshin’s deceased wife, Tomoe. Enishi saw Kenshin kill his sister in the confusion of battle. Determined to take his revenge Enishi kidnaps Kaoru. Kenshin must once again come face to face with his greatest sin – of having lost his lover by his own hand.
    Set at the historic turning point from the Edo period to the Meiji period, the tale introduces characters that really existed and events that really happened at that time, giving the drama a realistic appeal. The characters in the tale, while being thrust into the upheaval of the times, struggle to live life to the fullest according to their own principles.
    Text: HATTA Emiko[2014年9月号掲載記事]


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  • 忍者バトルと細やかな心理描写が人気

    [From August Issue 2014]

    “Naruto” is an ongoing comic strip serialized weekly in Shonen Jump since 1999. Through numerous battles, it portrays friendships and familial ties between ninjas. There are up to 69 volumes of the book version, and total circulation has exceeded one hundred thirty million copies. It is also very popular abroad.
    The story begins with the hero, UZUMAKI Naruto training to become a ninja while studying at school in Konohagakure no Sato (Village Hidden in the Leaves) in the Land of Fire. Twelve-year-old Naruto does not have parents and the adults around him treat him coldly. This is related to an incident that occurred 12 years ago: the village of Konohagakure no Sato was badly damaged when it was attacked by Kyuubi, a demon fox with nine tails.
    Naruto’s father was the fourth “hokage” to lead Konohagakure no Sato. To protect the village he sealed the nine-tailed fox into the body of newborn Naruto, afterwards losing his life. Because it is forbidden to speak of this, Naruto doesn’t know anything about it. However, because he carried the demon fox inside his body, the adults have kept Naruto at arm’s length.
    Before the story was serialized, the setup was going to be that Naruto himself was the human manifestation of the Kyuubi. However, in a different book, author KISHIMOTO Masashi explained that he decided to change this setup in order that Naruto would be more appealing to readers. The story occasionally explores the fact that as a “human” whose body contains a Kyuubi, Naruto both feels cut off from others and craves acceptance.
    The work is divided into two parts. Part One mainly depicts Naruto’s friendships in Konohagakure no Sato; those friends who will eventually team up with him. In Part Two, the world the story is set in expands. The conflict with ninjas from countries scheming to use the power trapped within Naruto heats up. Naruto finds himself in tricky situations again and again as he faces the various techniques of the ninjas. A large-scale war between ninjas breaks out and more and more people close to Naruto lose their lives.
    Because they are ninjas, the characters live according to their own special code. The story fizzes with unusual vocabulary. However, the troubles and joys depicted are not any different from those experienced by readers. Meticulous attention to detail is taken over the circumstances and psychology of not just Naruto, but of all the characters. This is why there is no arch villain. While viewing the story from Naruto’s perspective, readers can also empathize with the ninjas attacking Naruto and his friends, and it’s this that gives the story its depth, making hearts race. This is perhaps the secret as to why the serial remains so popular after 15 years.
    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo


    NARUTO – ナルト –

    「NARUTO -ナルト-」は週刊少年ジャンプで1999年から連載中のまんがです。忍者の友情や家族との絆を数々の戦いを通じて描いています。単行本は69巻まで出ていて累計発行部数は1億3千万部です。海外でも大人気です。







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  • バレリーナを目指す少女の成長物語

    [From July Issue 2014]

    In recent years, it’s not all that unusual for Japanese people to win international ballet competitions or to join famous overseas ballet companies. But this was still a distant dream in 1976, when the serialization of “Swan” began in the women’s comic magazine “Weekly Margaret.”
    Fifteen-year-old HIJIRI Masumi travels to Tokyo from Hokkaido to watch Alexei SERGEIEV and Maria PRISETSKAYA, famous ballet dancers from the former Soviet Union (now Russia), perform in Japan. Unexpectedly the road towards becoming a ballerina opens up, when, deeply moved by the performance, Masumi unintentionally ballet dances in front of the two.
    Because of this accidental encounter, Masumi is lucky enough to get lessons with Alexei, the star dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet troupe. There, her slumbering talent is revealed as is a problem that she must surmount. Through a severe regime and battles with her rivals, Masumi rapidly improves.
    Many real personalities and ballet companies appear in these comics. Also, the meaning of each pose and technique is written about in detail. Since it contains explanations and interpretations of ballets, it is also an introduction to ballet for those who know nothing about the subject.
    In addition, it portrays the protagonist’s love affairs – an indispensible part of the woman’s comic genre. Though her first crush is for KUSAKABE Sho, she falls deeply in love with Luci, who she meets in America. Her suffering from lost love and struggle to choose between love and the ballet, stirred the sympathies of readers.
    After studying abroad in the U.K. and acquiring modern ballet skills in the U.S., Masumi becomes a top dancer. Then, she manages to be reunited with her former mentor Sergeiev and it is decided that she will be cast in the same role as one of Sergeiev’s students. One day, Masumi discovers an unexpected truth. With a wavering heart, the challenge to start life as a ballerina begins.
    A 12 volume collector’s edition of this work was published in 2007. In response to demands from fans, the Moscow sequel was also published. The serialization of “Maia Swan act II,” featuring Masumi’s daughter Maia as the protagonist, continues to this day. Inherited by the next generation, the story continues even though 30 years have passed since the series began. From now on, after seeing the heroine appear on the world stage, more and more girls might aim to become ballerinas.
    Text: KAWARATANI Tokiko[2014年7月号掲載記事]

    この作品は、2007年に愛蔵版が12巻まで発行されました。ファンの要望から、この物語の続きとしてモスクワ編も発行されています。真澄の娘、まいあを主人公とした「まいあ Maia SWAN actⅡ」の連載は、現在も続いています。連載開始から30年以上経った今も、次世代に受け継がれた物語が続いているのです。世界を舞台に活躍する新ヒロインに憧れてバレリーナを目指す少女が、これからも出てくるかもしれません。

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  • 食をテーマに人生を描く

    [From June Issue 2014]

    In the 1980’s when the food service industry really got established in Japan, a gourmet boom got underway, with people becoming increasingly particular about ingredients and recipes. “Oishinbo” (The Gourmet) was one of the driving forces behind this boom. The series started in the manga magazine, “Big Comic Spirits” in 1983 and continues even today. It is a popular series with over 100 million volumes in circulation; in addition to movie adaptations, animated and live action adaptations have been televised.
    Reporters, YAMAOKA Shiro and KURITA Yuko, take up the challenge of creating the “ultimate menu” which will showcase the pinnacle of Japanese food culture for the hundred year anniversary of their newspaper. However, a rival company is planning a “supreme menu,” and this triggers a culinary battle between “the ultimate” and “the supreme.” KAIBARA Yuzan is a consultant for the supreme menu, and is also Shiro’s father. The two have been at odds for a long time over the death of Shiro’s mother.
    As well as being a brilliant artist, Yuzan is a gourmet. His uncompromising attitude covers just about everything and spills over into his private life. On discovering that his son has an extremely sensitive palate, in preparation for adulthood, he gives him a through grounding in the basics of cookery. However, Shiro rebels against this strict upbringing and, when his mother dies of heart disease, destroys all of Yuzan’s artwork, before leaving home.
    Shiro continues to nurse a grudge against Yuzan because he feels that by forcing his mother to continue working while she was sick, he was responsible for her death. He uses his mother’s maiden name “Yamaoka” in order to sever relations with Yuzan. The classic theme of father son conflict, overlaps with the cookery showdown and adds depth to the story.
    Shiro’s feelings about his parents’ unhappy marriage cast a shadow over his life. While he is attracted to his colleague, Yuko, he is unable to make the first move. But by confronting Yuzan through the cookery showdown, Shiro gradually begins to face his past. When he brings about the marriage of a woman, he is inspired to propose to Yuko.
    However, Yuko’s pregnancy makes Shiro anxious again. Shiro is afraid that he will be unable to love his own child because his father did not show any affection towards him, giving him no warm family memories. But when Yuko suffers from morning sickness, Yuzan teaches Yuko a dish that he had made for Shiro’s mother. Shiro becomes aware of Yuzan’s love towards Shiro’s mother and by extension, towards himself; this prepares Shiro for fatherhood.
    The carefully drawn dishes are beautiful and the work also introduces ingredients in profound detail as well as the rich food culture of various regions. All the characters, including Shiro, learn to relate to one another through food and come to understand that “to eat” is “to live.”
    Text: HATTA Emiko[2014年6月号掲載記事]


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