Thursday, August 06, 2009

Book Review Oishinbo A la Carte Fish Sushi & Sashimi by Tetsu Kariya


Oishinbo A la Carte Fish Sushi & Sashimi is another manga story collection by Tetsu Kariya with Art by Akira Hanasaki. It continues the story of the hunt for the Ultimate Menu. Yamaoka Shiro may not be the hardest worker at the Tozai News, but he has an impeccable palate when it comes to food. Thus, he is given the assignment of finding the best in Japanese culture to be part of a celebration for the paper's 100th anniversary.

Easy enough, right? Well, no. A rival newspaper is in competition to serve up its own version called the Supreme Menu. Kaibara Yuzan, Shiro's father, is leading the other search. Since father and son don't get along anyway, the constant contact with one another does not exactly help matters. Yuzan does not appreciate just how fine a taste his son has. Worse, he has nothing but what seems like contempt for his offspring.

There is, perhaps, one small silver lining to the conflict. As much as Shiro might resent the condescension, he is generally pushed to greater heights. Most of the time. After reading this, I think readers will understand why Shiro is angry on a regular basis. He has people who are too quick to state out loud just how worthless they believe he is. Very rarely is there a word of praise.

Fish is the theme this time. For example, which flounder makes the best sashimi? There has been a long standing school of thought to favor the left handed flounder. Whether it not it holds up will be for the reader to discover. Salmon turns out to be a serious topic of discussion when both sides have to prepare it in an official contest. Shinko Kohada proves problematic as Shiro is challenged to prepare it in a way other than sushi.

Relationships are more closely explored in this volume. Shiro and Kurita Yuko, the other Tozai News employee assigned to the Ultimate Menu preparations, would hookup just fine if left to their own devices. One of their coworkers uses a flower illustration in an attempt to make them more of a couple. It backfires. This won't surprise any regular fan of this series.

Despite the intended focus to be Shiro and his Menu hunt, a stronger portrait is painted this time of women. I found them particularly disturbing. Why would it matter what a guy does in his spare time if he is not actively dating someone? I get the impression these aggressive females have never heard the term stalking. Even worse is the fight between Shiro and Yuko after a misunderstanding.Two people working on the same assignment should be able to go on separate tasks once in a while without the other person getting upset.

A lesson on how to prepare grilled salmon skin is also included.

Previously published on Blogcritics.

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