Antique Bakery (aka: Seiyou Kotto Yougashiten) Vol. #02 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 198
  • ISBN: 1-56970-945-9
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Antique Bakery (aka: Seiyou Kotto Yougashiten) Vol. #02

By Eduardo M. Chavez     January 06, 2006
Release Date: December 01, 2005


Antique Bakery (aka: Seiyou Kotto Yougashiten) Vol.#02
© Digital Manga Publishing


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yoshinaga Fumi
Translated by:Sachiko Sato
Adapted by:

What They Say
Winter rain showers bring much more than frosting flowers when a mysterious man in sunglasses shows up at the bakery and addresses Tachibana as "My Lord" in front of the entire staff! Suddenly, Tachibana's secret history is revealed, and his dashing protector starts turning a few heads... when he isn't accidentally running into walls. The Christmas season promises new love, new recipes and plenty of sweet surprises. As the kitchen steams up, it gets harder and harder to tell who's been naughty or and who's been nice.

Cheeky fun and flying food are merely appetizers at the Antique Bakery! Be ready to taste-test tales that range from bittersweet to belly-busting. And just like a decadent dessert that beckons from the baker's tray, this special series also contains a gooey surprise center that no truly hungry reader can resist.

The Review
Packaging:
DMP’s standard size is an A5 so do not be alarmed at the oversized format they use for this title. They also provide dust jackets for all of their titles, as well. Presented right-to-left format, Antique Bakery looks great on the outside and inside.

On the dust jacket there is an image of three staff members from the Antique Bakery working on a chocolate cake. Take a look at the gold leaf on the center of the cover, underneath it are some instructions on how to smell what the Bakery has made for you! Scratch-n-sniff manga, what will they think of next! The opposite cover simple features the finished tart over the long volume description. Simple but very nice. Inside, the printing is very good with sharp inking, void of tone issues, and because of the size, it is free of alignment problems. DMP also includes a few ato-gaki pages each focusing on the days the staff have on their own.

While some people might balk at the $12.95 price, in my opinion it is worth the excellent packaging, especially when considering some studios charge the same for sub par presentations.

Artwork:
Yoshinaga's art is simple with tinges of realism. Typical of most mangaka, Yoshinaga draws her main characters with the least detail with the main difference being height and hair. Kanda is the standard. Add stubble and add longer hair = Tachibana. Add glasses and shorten the hair = Ono. Add sunglasses to Ono =Chikage. The rest is the same. Jaw-lines, eyes and body shapes are very similar. Close enough to be a little confusing with all of the flashbacks when the characters are younger and have even fewer distinguishing features.
The random customers are much more realistic and are more detailed With more features, texturing and more intricate costumes they tend to show off Yoshinaga's technique more. Most of the characters are on long side. Long faces, long bodies and long appendages are nothing new to shojo manga. However, Yoshinaga has used this to give some of her cast a sensual look, specifically to make some of them as irresistible as the cakes they eat.

The rest of the art is lacking. The background art is almost non-existent. This was surprises me because the cafe and bakery are not shown enough despite its importance to the story. We do get to see some nice looking cake, flatware and table settings giving an appearance that the place is still upscale despite the location and the scruffy guy behind the counter. The layout is good, even though panel placement and size are simple as can be. What Yoshinaga does well here is perspective. Getting reactions from the characters as they talk and eat is great. She sets them up nicely, and the lack of background art really makes them stand out. Moreover, because of the casual personal nature of this title seeing the change of tempo come from such subtleties makes them much more valuable than they are for other titles.

SFX/Text:
The translation for this title sounds really good. First, they have kept honorifics, which really helps define the interesting relationships the costumers have. They have also kept cultural phrases in the dialogue, and they define those phrases in gutters and super text boxes. They have done a solid job with how personalities come through in the translation. With a large cast sometimes dialogue can be pretty flat but as DMP kept honorifics and did not abuse slang original context came through well.

This title is also filled with desserts and confections and the translation keeps all of the original recipes and ingredients. None of the recipes go into much detail, since they are explained in the dialogue, but I point this out because other publishers might have changes the names. DMP also keeps the currency in yen! Overall, a solid job.

SFX might get some attention as DMP handled these in a unique way. They are all subbed using a small font as not to compromise Yoshinaga’s great art. However, the way they translated some of SFX might confuse some readers. Some of the translations are literal so in some situations the kana for "mogu" will be "mogu" instead of "chew." But the translation would be reversed in other situations. Readers familiar with raw FX might not have a problem, but having to translate a translation might annoy some.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One of the great things about baked goods is how so many emotions and memories can be brought out by a small often-sweet package. Even better is how people who eat pastries can never really know what to expect until they dig into a cake or tart and experience it fully. The same can be said about the people who sell and make those treats. As the crew from Antique Bakery has shown, no one should judge another being or cake without properly getting to know them.

In this volume, readers finally really get took into the life of the owner of the Antique Bakery, Tachibana Keiichiro. On the surface, Tachibana is a shrewd businessman and a bit of a grouch. Business and his pride always appear to come first. To his staff and some of his clients, he often looks aloof and a bit standoff-ish as he rarely ever shaves and he openly claims he is not a fan of sweets (preferring savories and spicy meals). Tachibana at times almost seems to make an effort to cater to a specific clientele, even though he does treat all of his patrons fairly and respectfully. He tends to be most into his work when there is a challenge, usually coming from clients that call themselves dessert gourmands.

Once you break the stubbly crust, you find out that Tachibana is a decent guy after all. No, seriously the guy was not lying when he tried to tell Kanda so many times over. In addition, he seriously did regret what he had said to Ono when they were in high school. He might look like someone who is just into this business for the hell of it, as a rich boy killing some time. But in all truth, he is doing this because his success is important to him. Moreover, his well-being is important to those who have cared for him and treated him like their own for so long.

That includes the newest member of the Antique staff - Kobayakawa Chigake, a long time friend and confidant of Tachibana's. These two might go back around twenty years, but they still are working hard to support each other. And despite how Tachibana is the younger of the two, he has always been the one watching over the man who was to be watching over him. Tachibana got him through college, got him a job and now will give him a home and a new place to call his own.

That is the type of man Tachibana is. He is really the type of person that lives up to the expectations of others. If the expectations are not high - Ono and Kanda - then he is a snob and a jerk. If he needs to be a model citizen - Chikage, his family and the snotty clients of the Antique Bakery - then he rises up to the occasion for their sake. He does not take anything for granted, but he does not kill himself being someone he is not either.

That is how he has become the best all he does and why he expects the best of his Antique. From the best pastry chef to the best tea to the most knowledgeable staff, his bakery can only as good as he makes it.

Comments
First off, that volume description was a work of art.

Okay, back to seriousness. This is a story that gets the maximum with the minimum amount of effects. In essence, this is really nothing more than a slice of life drama (no pun intended). The characters hang out work on their baked goods, spend time talking about them and then go tend shop.

The bakery is the focal point and the real main character of this title. Whatever happens at the shop that day is what the story revolves around. Therefore, if it is Christmas time, the crew is busy baking specific cakes and selling tons of them. If a relative or old friend shows up for tea and cake, then they will sit and chat for a bit. The bakery dictates what happens to home and even though the story does take characters outside of the bakery, everything that happens is set up there.

The characters are the next layer. First, there is the staff. Their interactions are just hilarious. The sexual tension is thick and the playfulness around the concept of food makes that even more intriguing. They really work well with each other, providing good compliments to each other's failings.

The customers end up following them. Without the customers, the Antique Bakery would not succeed. These characters bring the conflict in each arc. They liven things up and often determine the mood. Best of all they give a chance for the baking to shine.

Three nice layers each one bringing a different strength and taste to this dish. Together they make a title that is extremely difficult to resist.

Reading Yoshinaga Fumi's bakery manga is like spending time with friends at a local cafe or pub. At first, you go there to hang out and kill some time with some people you know. After a while, you are there to enjoy yourself with the tastes, smells, sounds and sights that always seem to bring you back. Eventually though, you find yourself no longer worrying about your own lives, as you lose yourself in the moment as everyone present is now sharing that moment. The pacing is fun and natural, and before you know it you leaving wondering when you will have a good chance to come back.

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