What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 16

What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 16 cover

What Did You Eat Yesterday? volume 16 continues in the consistently appealing mode of this Fumi Yoshinaga series: small stories about mature life experiences, all revolving around making food.

For example, Shiro is going to meet his boyfriend Kenji’s family — his mother and two sisters — for the first time (although the two have been together for a number of years). They’re eating out together at an unagi (eel) restaurant. Although the meal is perfectly pleasant, it’s tempered by Shiro wondering what motivated their meeting. The reason turns out to be immensely practical, and the kind of thing that makes sense for older adults.

A story where they’re unexpectedly out of an ingredient for dinner shows how well suited Kenji is for Shiro, in contrast to his previous boyfriend, shown in flashback. There are odd notes about Shiro’s “type”, but I prefer to think of the message involving the contrast between physical attraction and finding a true partner. It’s nice being shown how well the two work together through such a simple, realistic conflict.

Shiro coping with his parents’ pending move to a retirement home is layered with dinner with friends and Kenji doing more cooking. They’re helping each other out as various activities take time. It’s all about the life balance, and it’s so refreshing to see older characters coping with these kinds of changes. That’s rare in comics.

What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 16

Another plot involving the time and effort in cooking for others involved a co-worker’s need to make lunches and dinners for her children. Figuring out what to make over and over takes energy, and it’s a challenge to avoid it being exhausting. That’s a conflict I can relate to, as an adult reader.

Yoshinaga draws the character’s interactions beautifully, with subtle emotional responses. One particular technique she uses is alternating between detailed closeups of the cast and much more sketchy, simplified faces, emphasizing reactions, so the reader always understands the feeling, whether personal interaction or tasting a meal. I was impressed with how unpleasant she makes Shiro’s old boyfriend in just a few panels, by making him look so harsh. The food is also gloriously detailed, so you can follow along with her recipes.

I still haven’t ever cooked anything out of the book, although a friend did. It’s still wonderful following Shiro and Kenji and their friends as they eat their way through everyday life.

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