Mangaka: Sakaomi Yuzaki
Publisher: Yen Press (@YenPress)
Translator: Caleb David Cook
Letterer: Phil Christie
WHAT IS IT?
An ambitious cook and her food-loving neighbor bond over delicious dishes in this mature, slice-of-life girls’ love romcom.
Think Julie and Julia with all of the fun of your favorite food-centered anime.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Nomoto is an amateur chef who is obsessed with cooking and is passionate about large dishes, much too large for her small appetite. She spends her time showing off her dishes on social media, but finds the small following lacking in fulfillment. What she really wants is someone to share in her passion for massive portions, but the recent move to the big city leaves her social circle small and her fridge full of leftovers. If only she could find someone to help savor the flavors of her hard work!
One evening, she comes across her neighbor Kasuga walking into the elevator with the biggest order of fried chicken she’s ever seen, and the cogs begin to turn! After making a much-too-large meal a few nights later, Nomoto asks Kasuga if she’d like to join her for dinner, sparking a new relationship built on gourmet conversations and a love for home-cooked tastes. As the casual dinners expand into farmers-market outings and adventures with oversized pudding, the two women find that tender feelings may be developing alongside their passion for food.
Sakaomi has created an honest and simplistic story of two women who bond over a shared love of food. It was written in a manner that feels as if it could happen to you with your own neighbor in passing, one day. This is a much-needed entry in the GL genre, appealing to mature readers who want a sense of realism to their narratives but still enjoy the flirty silliness that comes with old-fashioned romcoms.
The art style is wonderful, with light shading and just enough of a shoujo* style to capture the whimsy people love when it comes to romance titles. It perfectly showcases the dynamics and personalities of Kasuga and Nomoto, both in character design and clothing choices. It complements their personalities perfectly while also highlighting the fact that they are human beings who work and have passions.
The team of Cook and Christie from Yen Press really handled this volume with care. The font choices perfectly match the tone and fill the speech/thought bubbles well, while the sound effects and translation notes are highlighted in a manner that makes them easy to read without obscuring the artwork.
The translation notes in the back of the manga are some of the best I’ve seen lately. Highlighting the key points/phrases with the actual image and page number from the manga itself helps readers understand the jokes and original Japanese terms in an easily understandable manner.
One thing I truly love about this series is that, while Kasuga is shown as a heavy eater, her weight and appetite are never used as negatives or heavily focused on. She is simply shown as a woman who appreciates food, and it is appreciated since many similar titles do hone in on those traits as punchlines and story points.
Sakaomi really captured the nuances and struggles of the modern woman – especially queer women – with this title. From the unwarranted (and often unwanted) advice and advances of men to the unfair pay differentials, Kasuga and Nomoto’s lives are written with care and honesty that anyone who has even slightly experienced the same situations can appreciate.
Another highlight of this series is how Sakaomi weaves in the struggles and journeys of women who are interested in other women in the initial dating phase, i.e. trying to dress cute in a manner not governed by men, how to deal with family’s comments, how to handle new feelings, etc. It feels so realistic and is done with immense care and honesty.
The illustrations of the food are downright delectable! This is a foodie fanatic’s dream series.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
This is a heavy slice-of-life story: it involves a lot of shopping, a lot of cooking, and a lot of day-to-day activities. While immensely enjoyable for those of us who adore this genre, if you aren’t into that heavy-realism aspect, this might not be the title for you.
This is a title that is definitely geared toward a female audience. Many of the jokes and conversations will resonate with female readers, but those moments are heavily emphasized, most likely to highlight the social commentary that the narrative is rooted in, so it may limit its audience base since the theming is so pinpointed.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Yen Press is killing it in the slice-of-life game lately, and She Loves to Cook, and She Loves to Eat will satisfy readers who love their similar 2022 releases such as Embracing Your Size and I Want to Be A Wall. Foodies who love gourmet-centered titles will absolutely adore the delectable narrative, while fans of the similar boys’ love series Manly Appetites will quickly latch onto the story of Kasuga and Nomoto’s budding relationship.
This mature, realistic romcom is a breath of fresh air in a genre that is heavily saturated with cutesy characters and fast-paced romance. Bonding moments that happen around spreads of home-cooked meals and simple conversations about life solidify this series as one to watch for anyone who likes cozy, feel-good reads.
HOW DO I READ IT?
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