Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu Volume 4
Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu volume 4 continues to be entertaining and delightful. I thought, with the previous book, that we’d be seeing longer stories at this point in the series, but I was glad to see I was wrong. Instead, we just see new stories with the characters we’re getting to know better, which makes it all more comfortable — particularly since you don’t need to remember their history to enjoy the chapters.
In the first chapter, several previous customers come to find out what the waitress thinks their usual is, as one of the soldiers ponders what his future might be beyond being part of the military. Additional stories introduce new characters, often women, to interact with those who are already familiar, which gives new insight. I particularly liked the upper-class lady sharing a simple meal with one of the soldiers; it’s unfortunate her outfit was so dance-club-style body-bearing, which kept pulling me out of the story, because I otherwise enjoyed the cross-class interactions.
I also appreciated all the dishes made with octopus in this volume. After having great luck in previous books with introducing Japanese eel dishes to the medieval Germans, fishing guild members are looking to expand the market with another sea creature. The sequence where a live octopus is brought into the restaurant, only to escape, is fun. Such a shame that we know what its eventual fate will be! And the panel where a character looks heaven-ward, thinking
… now I understand why it’s so damn creepy-looking… that hideous form was to keep humanity from learning how good it tastes!
is so dramatic, but so in keeping with the book’s message, of food carrying emotion and building bonds.
It’s not all about how Japanese food is the best ever, able to win over even rough European soldiers (although that’s pretty much the theme of the series). Later, the chef’s mentor stops by, having come in the back door that opens into modern-day Japan. They prepare a Spanish tapas-style ajillo, with octopus cooked in olive oil with garlic and chiles. But the real message is for the former boss to encourage the chef to continue finding his own way, a lovely note near the end to keep in mind.