Iron Wok Jan Vol. #26 (

By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Saijyo Shinji
Translated by:Toshikazu Hosaka
Adapted by:Toshikazu Hosaka

What They Say
Judging begins for the final dishes! There is Kiriko's ostrich meat and salt millefeuille baked in salt, and Ransei's stuffed lotus roots for the 21st century. With Jan's survival-style ostrich carpaccio to be judged last, will his dish retain the magic until the judges try his dish?

The Review
After 25 volumes featuring some of the wildest recipes in Chinese cuisine Iron Wok Jan! readers should know to expect innovative and often visually stunning looking food. Maybe the dishes themselves might not sound appetizing to western tastes, however Jan and Co. consistently make full course meals out of anything imaginable and that alone should inspire chefs and foodies to try new flavors and ingredients. But that was before volume 26.

Now if Saijyo's recipes in this are any indication the future of mankind, humanity will not be threatened by global warming and endless war. A more sinister force will bring down society (brought down by its taste buds and forced to die of starvation). While Kiriko, Jan and Ransei were preparing their culinary creations, I knew something ominous was looming. Kiriko's salt bomb could only be possible in a world without heart-disease. While salt is essential to life, there is no way I�fd eat a full course meal made entirely of it. Ransei�fs dish foretold of a future where food could only prepared in mushy form. Soft food for a future where jaws are too weak to chew was Ransei�fs logic. I�fd rather die than not be able to feel the chewy texture of perfect ramen. And Jan�fs dish...Jan made the most exquisite raw ostrich carpaccio. But his secret ingredient, the reason why his poultry was marbled was straight out of a horror manga! In the penultimate volume of IWJ! Saijyo gets his revenge on his readers by plating up the most depressing menu ever created, destroying the palettes of manga readers for generations.

There are few licensed titles that push the limits of taste with each new volume such as IWJ! does. In a twisted way that gives Iron Wok Jan its charm because without the shock value IWJ! and its lead character Akiyama Jan would be overly abrasive and frankly as dull as every other cooking title. However volume 26 takes it to another level. Live frogs, blood-based desserts, deep fried live shark cannot compare with what Jan and his rivals cook up in this book. As a reader, though, I think there is a limit to what I can consider culinary experimentation and the repulsive. I think Saijyo has crossed the line towards the nauseous with his latest. I thought a full course meal made entirely of salt would be too much to swallow. I have long realized he has removed himself from the realm of traditional cooking around 8 volumes ago, but Saijyo decided to lead this manga to its conclusion with his most disgusting recipe yet. Dragonflies, beetles, and maggots seem almost appetizing in comparison to the secret ingredient found in his ostrich carpaccio. And like foodie villain Otani, when Saijyo revealed his secret I felt like punching someone. I know manga should bring out emotions, but nausea and rage is not what I expect from a cooking manga.

IWJ! Continues to entertain but after 26 volumes Saijyo is desperate to shock with Akiyama's magic. Fortunately there is only one volume left. But only the most delicious plot-twist will make that worthwhile now.

Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: C+
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: DrMaster
MSRP: 9.95
Pages: 206
ISBN: 978-1-59796-049-6
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Iron Wok Jan