Usually I’m the type that if I can’t get the story in its 100% entirety, AND in the order its meant to be read…I want nothing to do with it. Oishinbo is an incredibly long manga series on food that Viz decided to chop up into smaller bits and release outside Japan. These bits and pieces are simply grouped into volumes by food theme. So you’ll have an entire volume of all the stories on Sake, that were selected as the best from various chapters from the series. Repeat this with Ramen, Sushi, Pub Foods etc…and that’s the Viz Siganture release of Oishinbo. I REALLY don’t like my manga series altered with too much when they’re released in the US…but I hesitantly bought Volume 1 of Oishinbo. And after reading the first volume, I knew I had to have the rest. I’m happy with what Viz brought over, and I do trust that they chose some of the better chapters in their releases.
The art is dated and the whole series has the characters making the same facial expressions over and over. First a character is mad over some insultingly bad food, followed by smiling happily after they’ve learned the correct way to prepare/serve the dish. This same formula is repeated many times during this series, but it didn’t tire me out. In Oishinbo the food is the star, and the characters are just there to enhance the beauty of the food (in my opinion). The food looks absolutely delicious, I have so many unsatisfied cravings right now for various Japanese dishes! Food in anime/manga almost always looks agonizingly good to me, so this series has been seriously challenging my self control.
I’ve already admitted that the characters are practicaly accessories to the food in this series. But despite this, the characters in this series are still good aspects of the series. Even though I’m more focused on the food I like to keep track of what’s going on in their lives. The main plot is that Shiro wants to make the “Ultimate Menu” of food, but the father he despises is an acclaimed food critic that keeps getting in his way. They have a dispute and they typically end up competing against each other Iron Chef style (but without the time limit). There are also situations where a guest character pops in and says they HATE a certain type of food, and our heros show them how great that particular food actually is.
This is an educating series on Japanese Cuisine, I’m not much of a “Foodie” myself. But I’ve learned a lot more about Japanese cuisine, and I have a lot of respect for it. I recommend this series to those that are enthusiasts for learning everything they can about Japan, especially if they’re specifically interested in the food. But this is not a series for all manga fans. There is hardly any plot, and the little plot there is ends up being disrupted by the random flow of time in this release. I admit it can be a bit annoying at times when you’ve clearly jumped back in time many years from where you just were in the previous chapter. This is also a manga series I enjoyed best in small tastes here and there as I read through each volume, this isn’t a series I can easily read marathon style and stay interested. But I love all of the knowledge I’ve gained from Oishinbo.