Our Dining Table
Our Dining Table was a satisfying, if not particularly memorable, bit of comfort reading. It doesn’t do anything exceptional, but the notes it hits make up a nicely blended tune. The story is quietly reassuring, good relaxation without being demanding in any way, a warm manga bath.
Author Mita Ori manages to combine a boys’ love story, food manga, and a cute kid into a single-volume story. Young office worker Yutaka lives on “ready-to-eat supermarket meals and salads.” The only thing he ever cooks are onigiri (rice balls with filling), and he always eats alone.
A chance encounter with Tane, a kid who loves his onigiri, and his much older brother Minoru winds up with the three sharing meals and cooking together. The family interactions lead to Yutaka opening his heart and coming to terms with the long-ago sibling mistreatment that caused his food phobias. Both men were lonely and unsure of themselves until they met each other in this quietly building romance — with a smidge of drama for spice, and some lovely holiday confessions.
Artistically, the food looks tasty, Tane is cute without being overbearing, and the boys’ expressions when either eating or looking at each other are sufficiently emotional to drag the reader along with their feelings at the time. I’m impressed Ori brought so many of these threads together coherently, and it was a pleasure to read a volume that did what it needed and concluded. The author’s note mentions several other things she never got to draw, so that may not have been entirely planned, but regardless of the reason, its length works for what it needs.