Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu Volume 3
Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu volume 3 is another enjoyable entry in the series about modern Japanese restauranteurs serving their cuisine to medieval Germans. Reading it is a comfortable escape, with lots to tickle the imagination and tastebuds. It’s based on light novels by Natsuya Semikawa, adapted and illustrated by Virginia Nitouhei.
As one might expect at this point in the series, we continue moving away from the simple “one chapter, a new situation and character, one dish” structure. We’ve begun to see characters return, and one of them has a grudge.
But first, there’s a lovely story about well-cooked food rescuing a disreputable ingredient and resolving conflict. Several feuding business leaders (although the reader may be given the impression of gangsters) think the local eel is a trash fish, not worth savoring, until they’re shown how tasty grilled eel in the right sauce is.
There’s also an insightful chapter about how a spy uses salad choices to understand local politics and analyze a country’s strengths, as well as one about a new employee helping the business find new ways to serve customers. It’s these creative turns that make this more than another manga about tasty dishes. I rarely know what to expect in each new story.
The centerpiece is a three-part challenge to the restaurant itself. A vengeful, power-mad local official wants to destroy the business and will use any tactic possible, exploiting laws and threatening to take someone’s wife. Nitouhei does a terrific job caricaturing official corruption. The main characters are simple, with few lines, while the greedy, grasping attackers have faces full of lines. They appear brittle and oily.
Thanks to the good will Nobu has created, there are plenty of people willing to try and help, so the overall feeling in this piece is one of good-hearted bonhomie. That’s echoed by the short final chapter, which gives the impression of a wrapping up. Don’t worry, though — there’s a fourth volume to come, due later this summer. (The publisher provided a review copy.)