Updated: Jun 7, 2022
Mangaka: Okoge Mochino
Publisher: TOKYOPOP (@TOKYOPOP)
WHAT IS IT?
Rival confectioners find themselves in the midst of a food war in this sugary sweet, slice-of-life BL (boys' love) romcom one-shot from TOKYOPOP's LOVE X LOVE collection.
Think your favorite Food Network baking competition meets What Did You Eat Yesterday?
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
When French educated pastry chef Kaoru Sakura discovers his patrons have started going to a traditional Japanese confectionery called Tatsuya, he storms out mid-shift to scope out the competition. When he confronts the owner, Sojiro Tatsugawa, with claims that his western treats are better, he’s met with a shrug and carefree attitude that sends him into a baking frenzy.
Determined to prove he’s got the superior shop in town, Kaoru brings Sojiro a box of chocolates. The classic confectioner’s reaction is not what he expects and the two begin a sweet companionship soaked in sugar. Kaoru begins using this fabricated (and one-sided) rivalry to see Sojiro more often, but when he accidentally overhears a conversation he shouldn’t, his hopes of romance are dashed. Will these two manage to overcome their chaotic candy-coated lives and finally admit their feelings, or will they forever spend their days on opposite sides of the culinary world in solitude?
Mochino’s illustrations are light and airy. Everything has a classic shōjo* aesthetic filled with cutesy character designs, a soft sense of shading, and sweet expressions. The shading isn’t intense or overly dark which enhances the sketchy feel and adds to the romantic vibe of the story.
The writing is simplistic, with a light comedic tone and charm that makes for a nice, low-drama read. The ability to capture an entire story arc in a single volume is not an easy task, but Mochino managed to pull it off quite effectively.
The text is well-sized, everything fits inside of their respective bubbles and it is easy to keep track of who is speaking, even when their respective characters are not shown in that specific panel. Text that sits outside of the bubbles has a thin highlight around them to help them stand out and not be lost.
The variety of backgrounds is one of the highly appealing pieces of this manga. From detailed buildings and set pieces to repeating textures made up of shapes, bokeh textures, and floating candies, it helps bring the characters to the forefront while keeping the panels from feeling empty.
While not abnormal for most manga, the sound effects have small, non-distracting translation notes attached so you can understand what’s being implied without changing the overall flow of the page and it is done in such a way that it feels natural and does not change Mochino's original design.
The journey from rival confectioners to romantic partners is paced well for how short the overall story is. There’s a sense of time progressing, and infatuation growing, told through the script and use of the two shops that helps set new scenes/days within a single chapter.
The two bonus short stories help solidify the relationship after the conclusion of the main narrative. They are only a few pages long but they show a continuation of Sojiro and Kaoru’s relationship beyond the initial high of a new love.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
CW: Strong language, consumption of alcohol, and a brief scene containing strong sexual content. 18+ audiences only.
There are some elements that feel left out, i.e. lack of details such as names/types of the sweets (which seems important for a story about baking) and translations of the French terms/sentences. It is unclear if this is just an oversight or was purposefully left out due to the aim of simplicity for the story.
The sex scene comes out of nowhere. It changes the mood of the overall cutesy story in a way that doesn’t necessarily enhance it. This is a trope that is included in nearly every volume of TOKYOPOP's LOVE X LOVE collection, but first-time readers may be taken aback by the change. Luckily, it’s toward the very end of the manga (kind of like a wrap-up of the story).
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Part of TOKYOPOP's LOVE X LOVE collection, this easy-breezy one-shot manga is a fun story with nice pacing that runs its entire arc in less than 160 pages. With awe-inducing meet-cutes and gorgeous illustrations of sweets, Chéri, My Destiny! is a great addition for collectors of romance manga who like their stories wrapped up with a nice little bow. A low-commitment, low-drama story, its cutesy romance makes for a relaxing and stress-free read.
The second manga from creator Okoge Mochino, this sweet, treat-filled, slice-of-life makes up for the lack of details (i.e. typical things that come alongside the freedom of a multi-volume series) with its charm and delectable illustrations. For those looking to step into the world of TokyoPop’s vast library of romance one-shots, Chéri, My Destiny! is a great one to pick up. It’s all the fun of your favorite cheesy Hallmark movie in an adorable, feel-good manga, that definitely proves the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
HOW DO I READ IT?
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*Shōjo - a genre of manga, typically aimed at female audiences, that features stories focused on relationships (usually romantic ones).