by Takashi Hashiguchi; adaptation by Drew Williams
published by Viz; $9.99 US
As the second volume of this manga about baking the perfect bread begins, Kazuma and Kawachi are settling into their jobs at the Pantasia bakery.
The somewhat unhinged manager, their boss, is hanging out at the stables, where he challenges them to create bread that’s delicious to horses. They’re clueless until the owner’s granddaughter explains what he really wants. Horses, she claims, don’t like butter, milk, or oil. The manager was deeply affected by having his younger sister nearly die from a food allergy, and so this is his (convoluted, disruptive, and unhelpful) way of teaching them to create bread that’s safe for anyone to eat, even those with food sensitivities. (Although he’s apparently never heard of “gluten-free”.)
Rival Kawachi goes about the task by trying to replicate what the manager has already done, working to find out his secret ingredient. Kazuma, though, doesn’t take anything for granted; he goes out of bounds and redefines the boundaries of the problem (to the extent he loses site of the original task, he’s so caught up in following his new explorations). He’s a true inventor instead of an accomplished craftsman.
I’m impressed that they managed to make the puns — like mare-velous bread, aimed at horses, get it? — work in English. A lot of the humor in this book is so stupid it’s smart, and the over-the-top explanations are head-shakingly outrageous. I also can’t decide if the effeminate caricature of the competition’s manager is simply tasteless or actually offensive.
Regardless, he and Kazuma wind up in a televised bread baking contest, even though Kazuma will be making something completely new that no one’s seen before. There’s a lot of “just go with it” in this title, and it’s a tribute to its sense of enjoyment that most readers will be willing to go along with the ride.
I haven’t even come close to describing everything that happens in this book. It’s fast-paced and packed with events. There’s a couple of additional contests, plus newly added fanservice (the granddaughter in the shower) and a recipe to make bread in a rice cooker. (“You’ll be a hit with the ladies! Manly men have to cook in the 21st century!!” says the bonus page.)