By Avi Weinryb
August 30, 2006 - 00:30
When I picked up this manga, I approached it with low expectations. I broke the rule of ‘judging a book by its cover’, and all I could see were three men sniffing a cake. It was only then that I realized that the cover had a ‘scratch and sniff’ component. I could smell the cake too! I knew this book was going to be great.
Antique Bakery vol. 3 is just as creative as its cover. The book delves into the ongoing tale of some very interesting characters. There is the bakery owner, Keiichiro Tachibana, a mysterious man with a face full of stubble and a closet full of skeletons. He is joined by Yusuke Ono, an incredible pastry chef that seeks to seduce almost every male he sees. We are also introduced to Chikage Kobayakawa, the slow but handsome object of Ono’s current affections, and Eiji Kanda, a young chef with a rough past.
Interlocking narratives and flashback help flesh out the plot in which the bakery must stay afloat while elements of chaos threaten to undermine the entire operation. Two (ridiculously) big bosomed television reporters, Haruka and Tammy, choose to do a spotlight on the Antique Bakery, but the chief chef, Ono, has a fear of women. Just as he begins to wrestle his fear under control, an old flame shows up.
Jean-Baptiste, an old lover of Ono’s, has come to
Although the book applies some elements of the yaoi genre, it is not explicit. This manga is more comedy/drama than anything else.
Stepping back from the zany antics of some of the characters, I was impressed by the story’s ability to seamlessly synthesize various characters and plot points into a decidedly fun mix of effective storytelling. It is of no surprise to me that this book won the prestigious Kodansha Award – Yoshinaga approaches the script with the same precision he applies to his well defined artwork.
The art is presented in black and white, and its combination of simplicity and detail lends itself well to the accompanying story. Characters display a wide range of emotions, and moments of action and movement are evocative of reality.
I recommend this manga to anyone that seeks an involving comedy/drama rife with revelations and unpredictable happenings. I’ll never look at Japanese bakeries the same way again!
Rating: 8 /10