by Natsumi Ando; story by Miyuki Kobayashi; adaptation by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir
published by Del Rey Manga; $10.95 US
This volume opens with a sequence that makes clear Najika’s dream, to be the world’s best pastry chef in memory of her parents, and reveals a previously unsuspected connection between her and the two brothers most popular at her school. Class has gotten worse, with her rival ramping up the hazing, until the result is a cooking contest challenge.
If Najika wins, she’ll be accepted and her talent respected; if she loses, out she goes. It’s Iron Wok Jan with a decidedly girly overlay. Her cooking, out of love and a desire to see people happy from her food, must be shown to have value.
As in the previous volume, the recipes were my favorite part of the book. The world needs comic cookbooks! Also amusing was a short sequence where Najika demonstrates her other unusual talent, the ability to eat a lot without consequence: she wipes out an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant.
The second half of the book becomes more serious, with model Akane revealed to have the unhealthy attitudes about food typical of her profession. That’s a valuable subject for a food series aimed at teen girls to explore. For me, Akane is a more interesting personality than the lead character, and she has more depth and nuances to explore. She’s also a fun villain to hate, since her meanness toward Najika is so blatant.
I’m not sure I’ll continue with this series. It’s entertaining enough, but it’s fluffy and forgettable (like so many of the mousse items and drinks Najika makes). The volumes already feel familiar, even as I’m reading them for the first time.
(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)