Iron Wok Jan Vol. #08 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

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: 190
  • ISBN: 1-58899-263-2
  • Size: Short B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Iron Wok Jan Vol. #08

By Eduardo M. Chavez     July 22, 2004
Release Date: April 01, 2004

Iron Wok Jan Vol.#08
© DrMaster

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

What They Say
The spring roll contest is nearly decided between Jan, Kiriko and Celine, when a confident Okonogi struts in with his own dazzling treat! Who will win the honor of having their spring rolls on the Gobancho menu? Meanwhile, Mr. Otani grooms yet another promising young cook who he hopes will finally defeat Jan. Can Jan's magic stand up to the Immortal Taoist Chef Gojyo? Also Dan is back! Plus more tantalizing culinary dishes on the fly...

The Review
The series is printed right to left in a short B6. This cover uses a green frame around the strange cover art. The front cover features Jan pigging out on a boar head! His fangs and tongue are almost as freaky as his trademark crazy eyes! The back cover has close-up image of a genki looking Kiriko (no fangs here! Thank gosh!!).

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

Inside the cover there are character intro pages and the original volume header. At the end of the GN are short quick cooking tip dialogues with Jan and Takao, Jan and Kiriko, and finally Celine and Takao, followed by an ad for Sister RED.

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.

Character designs were still fun. Jan and now Dan's eyes are pretty freaky but I have to agree with another AoD poster Saijyo makes some of the best BIG breasted women in manga. Take that as you wish... 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.

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. So say you have 5 potsu s but the panel is busy, ComicsOne translates 3 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)
This volume does not have as many notes as most but they are there and they are easy to read and easy to access as they are typically in the gutters.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
To the bigger egos at Gobancho this year's "Show and Tell Contest" was already over. Celine, Kiriko and Jan had all presented their unique takes on the simple but extremely popular appetizer, the spring roll. All three received the infamous Gobancho forehead slap confirming the exceptional talent apparent in their dishes but all that was left now was the confirmation of which one would be a permanent recipe on the famous menu.

There still was one more to taste, though. Resident bottom-feeder, Okonogi Takao is still left and he insists he will not disappoint. Why anyone would believe him who knows, but for some reason he seems really confident. And even more surprising is the fact that Gobancho Mutsuju is intrigued! Okonogi has made something that is even more widely appealing than Kiriko's; more mysterious than Jan's; and almost as unique as Celine's. Okonogi by stuffing wrappers with random croquets (deep fried patties of stuff like mashed potatoes, cream corn, macaroni salad... ) from a local store he made something that can be made quickly, surprise and be appreciated by many. Almost perfect but he did not do much of the cooking. Now what to do about the menu? Takao is on par with the other three, so how to justify any choice.... except by letting the customers do so! Everyone wins and loses and Mutsuju doesn't have to worry about a backlash!

The time has come when Dan's new restaurant will open starting a new rivalry in Japan's food circles. At the end of volume 6, Jan experienced first hand some of Dan's magic. It was on par with Jan's and with a little time who knows what Dan has thought of.

Well Dan is no longer at the Mirage, but the rivalry is definitely still on! Backed by twisted food critic Otani Nichdo, the Mirage restaurant is now under head chef Gyokai Go (aka: the Taoist Goyjo). In Gyokai, Otani had the one tool that he always had missing in his previous encounters with Jan - someone who had a gimmick or magic that was just as strong or even stronger than his opponent's. Gyokai uses the ying and yang of food to not just make dishes that are appetizing but are individually made for each customer based on their health. With a little deduction Gyokai figures out what ails people and makes a dish to counter and eventually balance out the organ that is effected. This ability has a broad appeal and compared to Jan's often wicked magic Gyokai, if he uses his skills right, can come out looking like a saint besides the devilish Jan. And after a few "gifts" were exchanged by the two restaurants (one officially and one not) their one-on-one contest will have them presented that way. And Jan would not have it any other way!

While the end of the Show and Tell contest was rather anti-climatic it revealed a lighter side of Saijyo's writing. Instead of going to the extremes as seem so many times in this series, he used common Japanese fast food to not just make this recipe more accessible but to share a little comedy. On the other hand, the introduction of Gyokai Go and the sudden fall of Dan is nothing but shocking. Gyokai's talents can only be compared to an onmyoji (a ying-yang master) who can work hand in hand with the elements to get immediate results. Those results may be a little fantastic, but the reasoning behind some of those recipes appear to have some merit and could very well be somewhat beneficial to people's health (finding out which ones is the tough part). Making sure that readers are kept on their toes, Saijyo makes sure that Jan is not outdone and while he is not impressing with his cooking at the moment, his attitude is completely over the top.

In North America there is not another title that can be mentioned in the same level as Jan! It really is in a category of its own in many ways. The subject matter, Chinese food, so familiar to most of IWJ's readers, but cooking manga is out of this world; much like the characters in this title. And really this title is just as much about the bizarre dishes as it is the bizarre characters. In Japan, cooking manga can be found in quite a few manga magazines but very few can balance those two aspects out (either the cooking is dominates or the cooking does not excite forcing the manga to often rely on humor. Food equals funny?!?) and ComicsOne found one that does it both with style. This is one title everyone should pick up.


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