Those of you who like good comics may want to read my interview with Gene Yang on Sequential Tart. Gene was nice enough to talk to me about his graphic novel American Born Chinese, the first comic nominated for the prestigious National Book Award, and how the secret Asian-American cabal is poised to crush Whitey and install Derek Kirk Kim as our lord and master.
Also, it's time for--yes!--another installment of Overlooked Manga Festival! Those with slow connections be warned: this one's got a lot of scans. Warm, yeasty scans.
In my post on Kekkaishi, I commented that manga about baking are always awesome. Today I aim to prove this by serving up a sample of...
GREAT MOMENTS IN MANGA BAKING!
Because this is manga, there's only one way to present Great Moments in Baking: as a bloody-knuckled, all-out tournament battle! So step into the squared circle, manga bakers, and show us what you've got!
First up: Antique Bakery, the story of four gorgeous and occasionally heterosexual men who run a patisserie together. Ono, the head baker and holder of the coveted title "Gay of Demonic Charm," is about to unveil the bakery's Christmas specials. Of course, in Japan, Christmas has no religious significance and is primarily an opportunity for young couples to get it on, which suits the philosophy of the Antique Bakery just fine. Tachibana, the stubbly-faced owner, doesn't care for pastries (yes, he owns a patisserie, but I SWEAR THERE'S A GOOD REASON), but reluctantly samples Ono's wares.
Educational yet strangely suggestive: that's good baking.
Next: Yakitate!! Japan, which follows the fortunes of one Kazuma Azuma, a teenage boy determined to create "Ja-Pan," the national bread of Japan, so that his nation can finally hold its own against such bread giants as France and Italy. (Pan, you see, is Japanese for "bread," which makes this a brilliant pun rather than an inexplicable and bizarre premise for a manga.) In a competition for a job at the renowned bakery chain Pantasia, Kazuma whips up one of his many experimental Ja-Pan models, freaking out the other contestants:
Last but certainly not least: venerable hardboiled cooking manga Iron Wok Jan. Iron Wok Jan doesn't actually include much baking, being more about Chinese-style cooking, but sometimes Jan has to bust loose with the oven action. Called upon to produce a dessert for an intense cooking competition, he starts by slitting the throats of several dozen pigeons and collecting the blood, then asks the question on everyone's lips:
The answer? Well, check it out...
But what do the judges think?
Jan accepts the praise with his usual classy restraint:
And there you have it. Which baked good wins this brutal baking tourney? Antique Bakery's Christmas buche, Yakitate!! Japan's edible curry bowl, or Iron Wok Jan's blood egg pie?
Cast your vote in the comments! I'll announce the winner next week. Although honestly, in manga baking, everyone wins.