So, Mixed Vegetables v.1...
Let me preface this by saying I bought v.2-6 and read them first, then borrowed v.1 on Interlibrary Loan. I'm not sure I would have kept reading if I had just read v.1 first. I like the later volumes much better, and the reason is this: over the course of the 8 v. manga, the characters grow A LOT. All of them, even the adults, make mistakes and deal with them. So in the first volume, we only see some of the characters and where they are at the beginning - with a long way to go. The rest of the cast yet to be introduced, the characters families, are my favorite part of the overall manga. At first, the plot seems kind of lame - these days, who marries into another family for personal advancement? Well, I'd guess it's a given that Japanese society is more traditional than American society, and passing on the family business carries a lot more meaning and weight there. Even so, Hanayo's idea of marrying "the sushi shop boy" so she can be a sushi chef is immature - and at least by the end of v.1, she has realized this. She is, after all, only 15, so a little immaturity is to be expected. But wait - she's not alone! Apparently, Hayato has had the same immature idea of marrying into her family for the pastry shop! Hayato doesn't have much personality in this first volume, as it slowly develops through the series as Hana gets to know him better. If I had to choose one word to describe his character, it's "gallant." He's prone to rather dramatic gestures in the interest of protecting and caring for those around him - Hana in particular. Of course, being gallant in this day and age is not PC, so he goes about it rather clumsily. I think the overall theme of Mixed Vegetables is "getting the right blend" - finding a balance between different parts of your life. A later volume even directly uses a food metaphor for this balance. In the first volume, we see that worked out as Hana tries to balance her dream against her growing fondness for Hayato and her family identity against her personal identity. Those are by far the two greatest conflicts in the story, but others develop as well. A slow start to a good story.
If you liked this manga, I'd recommend Kitchen Princess by Miyuki Kobayashi (which I have not read.) It has both romance and cooking, although I believe it is geared toward a younger audience. Another title you may enjoy is Yakitate!! Japan by Takashi Hashiguchi (which I also have not read). It is a shonen style story about a young man's dream of making an amazing bread for Japan. Oishinbo by Tetsu Kariya is a cooking manga that focuses more on cooking than a romance or quest. Anyone who's read these care to agree or disagree? Any suggestions on a manga not about cooking that shares similar themes about people who intended to use each other discovering that they may have found something more important than what they wanted at first?
posted 1 year ago. ( permalink )