Iron Wok Jan Vol. #05 -

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Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: DrMaster
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 186
  • ISBN: 1-58899-260-8
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Iron Wok Jan Vol. #05

By Eduardo M. Chavez     March 02, 2005
Release Date: July 01, 2003

Iron Wok Jan Vol.#05
© DrMaster

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Saijyo Shinji
Translated by:Sahe Kawahara
Adapted by:

What They Say
We're down to the finals of the first National Young Adult Chinese Cuisine Cooking Contest! Jan Akiyama, Kirko Gobancho, and Celine Yang must use their knowledge of preparing dessert to win this battle! Will the judges pick Celine's roasted papaya pudding, Kiriko's triple sweet soup, or Akiyama's candied blood eggs?

The Review
ComicOne continues to print this series in B6 size. Yes, it is not the original size, but this is a Japanese standard size. To be honest I love the smaller books, for they are easier to transport and fit nicely in the hands. They also use the Japanese cover art, which is nice. The front cover features Jan dishing out some organ meat from a steaming hot wok onto a on a plate decorated with a lobster head! His fangs and tongue are almost as freaky as his trademark crazy eyes! The image is wrapped on the left by a yellow frame. The opposite cover has an image of Kiriko, Celine and Takao arguing with woks in hand, while Jan has passed out and is lying at their feet. Crazy!

Logo Check!! (2003 Megs)... the original logo is pretty simple and while the ComicsOne logo is a little large it is creative. The tomato and the bell pepper are cute and they look very nice on the spine of this GN.

There are some interesting extras in the form of the medicinal recipes found at the end of some of the chapters. At the end of the GN, there are ads for Onegai Teacher and ComicsOne accessories.

Saijyo's art is still pretty interesting. He uses action techniques for a cooking manga and for the most part, it really works. Last volume, I was a little confused about the overuse of some intense techniques and was weary going into this one. Fortunately even with the action level in the plot going up, the layout was not quite as distracting as it has been. This really helped with the mood and took attention away from the art and into the drama in the kitchen. Good stuff. Background designs are great as well as one can get the feeling that the scenes presented could be staged on the set of Iron Chef.

Character designs were still fun. Jan eyes are pretty freaky but I have to agree with another AoD poster who has proclaimed, “Saijyo makes some of the best BIG breasted women in manga.” Take that as you wish...

When they are on ComicsOne is still one of the best in the business. For this title, they have tastefully translated SFX close to the original SFX. What they do well here though is that they do not translate every single FX in every panel, especially if there are a bunch of the same. Therefore, say you have five potsu's but the panel is busy, ComicsOne translates three of them as "drip".

The translation has been much more fluid as of late. Errors are less common than in the early volumes, as well (though, there is a typo on the back cover). This series is pretty unique, as there are recipes with Chinese names, so there is almost another level of translation. Fortunately, that aspect has been handled quite well from the start and they have been very smart to add as many notes as possible to make things easy to understand.

One thing to take note is Celine Yang's accent. I cannot pin it down but she talks in a certain drawl. Her character is from Kobe so you would expect it. C1 handles this well, as it does not distract too much from the plot. (Though, I wonder how others react to it)

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
At the start of this volume, the final three contestants have gone halfway through the final stage. The noodle competition had left Jan with a lot of catching up to do and he was not taking it very well.

Dessert is the final test and since desserts are not often considered a part of Chinese cooking, this is really going to be a battle. This is one disadvantage Jan is really going to make use of.

Once again, anyone can pick the ingredients for their recipes but they have to make the general dish requested. Therefore, the potential is endless but with something as unique as Chinese dessert, these three chefs really need to think outside the box to impress.

Skill of presentation and keeping "the heart of her customers" motivates the dessert that Kiriko makes. She picks the watermelon for her ingredient and begins to work on her high-level designs.

Celine continues to prepare dishes with her "nouvelle chinoise" cuisine style. One would think she would have the overwhelming advantage with her international-fusion background. She picks the papaya to make her sweets and at the time, I thought it really suited the situation.

At the opposite end is Jan. Jan goes for an extreme (of course). His ingredient is blood!!!
Blood is supposed to be sweet?!
Blood is supposed to finish a meal?!
Kids are going to want to eat blood like candy. Begging their moms for it instead of their dinner?!

Jan has gone over the edge, but would you want him any other way??? Jan is about to show off his magic again but this time round he is not going to hurt anyone. Instead, he is going to turn the concept of taste and emotion upside-down. Blood as a dessert is a concept that cannot be described with words but that is what Jan wants.

Saijyo-sensei continues to shock and to amaze with this volume. Yes, the action was down from the past but the shock factor was raised so high by having Jan cook with blood as his main ingredient and to see him prepare it from living birds was so over the top I was beside myself.

Unfortunately, I have to say that unlike previous cook-offs Saijyo did not go into the high level of detail explaining why such strange foods would taste so good. Yes, there were some high quality ingredients but that still does not make for logical reasoning or good taste on the palette of the mind. I would wonder how blood would solidify so easily to become solid enough in the required time. I wondered where Jan got some of these ingredients if they were so rare. Those things were explained before but that was missing this time as the shock and awe factor was raised.

Character development was kept to a minimum this time. You really do not get to see many new things in any of the characters besides the revenge crazed food critic Otani-san. His character moves from lowly antagonist to violent spineless-liar. Saijyo pulls this off very well as you can see him getting more and more deranged as Jan gets more and more points in the competition. He eventually gets his "just desserts." HA!! (Sorry. Ahem!)

Jan is an example another genre that is under-represented in the states but one that has entertainment written all over it. Cooking might not sound exciting but with good characters, fresh interesting ingredients and some nice art Jan really makes for a good time. ComicsOne really took on a big risk with this title and genre but fortunately, they picked up a title that focuses on its characters more than the food they make. Many cooking manga series focus on the food; characters are second. Typically the food is explained in detail and the cooking art is so detailed the characters almost look like stick characters in comparison. Jan is a great balance of both and it can even cross genres to bring in even more readers. Good stuff.

It is as Jan says, "Remember this judges! My cooking is magical! And NOW I've got your eyes fixed on me!!"

'Nuff said. When's that next GN coming, because my taste buds cannot wait.

Highly Recommended


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