Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu Volume 2
With a simple structure for this series — we saw in volume 1 how each chapter consists of a simple Japanese dish solving a problem by being so delicious — there’s a risk of it growing monotonous. Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu volume 2 avoids that by introducing new characters. One is a classically sympathetic type, while another is an antagonist with a secret.
The European medieval soldiers that dine at Nobu worry about a new church deacon in town, since he might ban anything too foreign or unusual as heretical. Meanwhile, a girl who doesn’t understand more modern technology wants to steal water from the restaurant to help her family; instead, in keeping with the general good-hearted nature of this series, a happier ending is found.
The small moments may be predictable, as when a soldier struggles to pick up a potato chunk with chopsticks, but they’re comfortable, well cartooned by artist Virginia Nitouhei, and amusing. (Plus, it’s nice to see the sound effects have been re-lettered in English, adding to the mood.) A misunderstanding over “kisu” (a fried fish dish) embarrasses customers temporarily, while a bigger misunderstanding has the hostess worried that a burglar has snuck into the restaurant.
There are some intriguing observations about the nature of life in medieval times, whether it’s the complications of getting clean water for the poor or the wonder of rare, valuable paper used to blot tempura. Most of the chapters teach simple lessons. A pompous, spoiled nobleman makes demands of the staff, and variations on the same food idea in different cultures assuage him. Another man is taught he can eat squid, which he hates, if he learns more about it and tries different preparations.
The most fantastic chapter is the final, where a young girl has a mystical encounter and wanders out the wrong door, into modern Japan. It’s refreshing, and it kept me interested in reading more. Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu is comforting and nourishing in its simplicity, like the food we see served.