Before, I didn’t really read manga, because the multiple book format makes it hard to collect. I like reading series books in order and from start to finish, and with manga, it’s hard to complete a set because they’re expensive to buy brand new and at full price, and difficult to find at bargain stores or on BookMooch.
But recently I’ve been drawn to some titles based on their storyline, and I really enjoy comical manga humor, so I’ve started to read them in the past couple of years or so, hunting down bargain copies at National Book Store and scouring the manga selection at Book Sale and on BookMooch.
The upside is that if you really can’t wait to find out what happens next, and if the series you’re reading isn’t a brand new release, you can usually read it online, on websites such as 9Panels, or onemanga.
Some manga series are adapted to Western book formats, but most use the authentic manga format, read top to bottom and right to left. It’s interesting, because having been raised and educated in a Westernized Asian country such as the Philippines, I automatically read from left to right. I initially had trouble reading manga panels, but I believe I’ve been getting the hang of it now, although every once in a while I tend to lapse into left to right reading when I get caught up in the story.
If you haven’t tried it yet, here’s a quick guide to reading manga:
And heres’s a page of Doraemon you can practice on:
Recently I blogged about reading the Kare Kano series by Masami Tsuda, which I enjoyed reading, and mentioned that I had book 3 on the way from the Netherlands, which got here last month.
In Kare Kano 3 (#122 for 2009), Yukino and Soichiro are happy with thei relationship, but they run into trouble when their grades drop and they lose their ranking as the top two students of their school. Alarmed, their teacher advises them to break up so they can concentrate on their studies. He even calls a parent-teacher conference to discuss the situation. Yukino and Soichiro must get their act together, or break up for good.
I didn’t enjoy this Kare Kano volume as much as the others because it felt too serious compared to the three other books that I’ve read in the series.
It struck a nerve, as I’d been an honor student for most of my academic life, and have experienced dealing with very high expectations from teachers, especially in high school — you slip up a little, but you’re far from delinquent, and the teachers swoop in to get on your case.
I’d belonged to an honors class, where more than half of the students have been my classmates since we were young, as we’d never been outside of the honors class. We were a rambunctious bunch, and teachers often complained that for all our intelligence, we were the most unruly class in the batch.
We weren’t bad kids, but I think we acted out mainly because there was so much pressure on us to become the model for other classes (who hated us, by the way), and internally, we all had to compete with each other as well. I guess noise was our only outlet for self-expression, to get teachers to notice that we were just kids, too.
But enough of the honor student baggage, haha! Gosh, I can’t believe it’s been a decade since already! :) We’re old!
The next book in this entry is Kitchen Princess 1 (#123 for 2009), manga by Natsumi Ando and story by Miyuki Kobayashi, creator of another famous manga, Zodiac P.I. (haven’t read that yet, though).
There is a back story to this book — a lonely little girl is crying in the middle of a field, because she has recently lost her parents. A boy shows up and cheers her up with a bowl of flan, and then disappears, leaving the girl with a silver spoon as her only clue to the boy’s identity.
The girl, Najika, grows up to be a great cook, and enters the elite Seika Academy for gifted students, not just because of her great talent for food, but also because it is the school’s emblem that is embossed in the silver spoon. Najika hopes to find the owner of the spoon, and is drawn to the school heartthrobs, the rival brothers Sora and Daichi. Could one of them be Najika’s mysterious knight in shining armor?
I really enjoyed reading Kitchen Princess, because it was quite funny, and Najika is a delightful heroine. Haha, of course, throw in the hunky brothers fighting for her attention and you’ve got a great love story going.
I also liked Kitchen Princess because other than being a romantic comedy, it is also a manga that foodies will enjoy. The chapters are divided into different recipes (e.g. Najika and Flan, Najika and Taramasalata, Najika and Rainbow Jelly, Najika and Christmas Cookies, Najika and Onion Gratin Soup, etc.).
I like how it pays particular attention to flavors and textures in the food Najika creates (her special talent is her sense of taste), and you get hungry reading about the food she makes, and even get great cooking tips too!
For instance, when Najika makes flan, she points out that flan gets harder with more egg and softer with more milk, and it loses its abillity to harden with too much sugar! Now I’ve never made flan, but I’ll be sure to keep that in mind when I do.
The recipes in the chapters are found in a special Kitchen Palace section at the end of the book, with lots of nice illustrations that make the instructions easier to follow. Below is the recipe for flan.
I definitely want to read the next volumes of Kitchen Princess!
my copy: both paperback, both mooched
my rating: Kare Kano 3 3/5 stars; Kitchen Princess 1 5/5 stars