Thursday, February 28, 2013

Kitchen Princess, Omnibus 1

Kitchen Princess, Omnibus 1
Miyuki Kobayashi (story), Natsumi Ando (art)
Kodansha, 2012
$14.99, Softcover

Genre: Graphic Novels, Realistic, Romance, School Story
Age: 10+
Description: Najika is a natural cook. She was orphaned when both of her parents, also good cooks, died in an accident. Since then she has practiced her cooking skills and is accepted to the prestigious Seika Academy. One reason why she wanted to study there is because when she was a young child she met a boy who shared his meal with her and left her a special spoon with the academy’s symbol on it. He touched her heart so much she became determined to cook him just as good a meal and she hopes to find him at the school. However, attending Seika will be a challenge for her because everyone has a special talent and most of her classmates (who at first don’t realize her talent is cooking and being able to smell and taste singular ingredients) think she doesn’t deserve to be there. Luckily for her she runs into Sora and Daichi, two popular brothers (who hate each other) but who recognize Najika’s rare talent. Could one of these boys be her mystery guy?
Opinion: I love how a lot of manga publishers are re-releasing series in nice omnibus editions. I picked Kitchen Princess to read since I am obsessed with Gordon Ramsey’s kitchen reality shows. So I thought, “A cooking manga? That might be fun!” The book is a quick read and follows a pretty common manga storyline—the mysterious person from your past who you hope to find by attending a special school. Najika is a great character because even though she gets down when the other classmates dismiss her as talentless she always tries to make the best of a situation. When a mean girl who happens to have a talent for modeling acts like her friend and then treats her cruelly Najika takes the situations and makes them work for her. When she’s told to go to a “popular” on campus restaurant for a job she shows up in a place that is deserted and, with a few recipes, turns it into the hot spot on campus. When she is given a dress and asked to bake a cake for the holiday program and is embarrassed when she sees a huge commissioned cake and hears the model say she stole the dress, Najika spends the whole evening baking gingerbread cookies to hang on the large Christmas tree for everyone to eat. Clearly, one of the boys (Soja or Daichi) is her mysterious boy but we will see Najika in a lot of funny predicaments before we discover which boy is which. The manga is broken into chapters with a specific food theme and whatever that item is the end of the volume includes recipes with manga illustrations for aspiring chefs to try at home. My only complaint—Najika is supposedly an eighth grader. She doesn’t look 12/13 years old.

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