Mania Grade: B+
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- Art Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: B
- Text/Translatin Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Released By: DrMaster
- MSRP: 9.95
- Pages: 206
- ISBN: 1-58899-264-0
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
Iron Wok Jan Vol. #09
By Eduardo M. Chavez
December 21, 2004
Release Date: June 01, 2004
Iron Wok Jan Vol.#09
Writer/Artist:Saijyo Shinji (Cooking supervisor: Oyama Keiko)
Translated by:Sahe Kawahara
Adapted by:What They Say
Jan discovers his latest and most adept culinary rival may not even be a true chef. If so, then who or what is he and how do we explain his apparent god-like skill in the kitchen? Unaware of this revelation, Kiriko is determined to take Jan's place at the competition, after witnessing Jan's defeat in the "Refreshment" battle. Will she succeed or will Jan fair better in "Battle Stamina"?The ReviewPackaging:
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 looking pleased as he fries up some tofu-bell pepper beef. Yum! The back cover has close-up image of a genki looking Celine (no fangs here! Thank gosh!!).
Logo Check!! (©2003 Megs)... the original logo is simple and while the ComicsOne logo is a little large it is pretty creative. The tomato and the bell pepper are cute and they look very nice on the spine of this GN.
Inside the cover, there are character intro pages and the original volume header. At the end of a few of the chapters are short quick cooking dialogues featuring the staff of Gobancho. No other extras in this volume but there is an ad for the Onegai Twins novel.Artwork:
Saijyo's art is plain crazy... but effective crazy. He uses action techniques in a cooking manga and for the most part, it really works. Last volume, I was a little confused about the overuse of some intense manpu 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. I mean cooking with a chainsaw can only be drawn in a certain way and Saijyo is possibly the only person who can pull it off. Good stuff. Background designs are great as well. Readers can get the feeling that they are present on this outdoor version of "Iron Chef".
Character designs are plain fun. Jan 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... SFX/Text:
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 is 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.
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.Contents:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Akiyama Jan always said cooking is about competition, now he is in his toughest test yet. He is up against a cook who is more of a doctor than a chef. Chef Gogyo knows the ins and outs of the chemistry of food and how it metabolizes in the system. In Hong Kong, Gogyo was known to cook for people's individual needs. He would treat disease and deficiencies through meals that focus on organs that need the most treatment. All he had to do was make his food taste good. However, with Gogyo's knowledge he can dig out ingredients that can manipulate the senses to make sure that has taken care of as well.
After one round, Jan was already in a deep hole. Having no not come prepared to battle someone like Gogyo, he was immediately stunned by the overwhelming talent Gogyo has to manipulate his audience. He was expecting to go up against a Chinese chef who would work the palette with the medicinal aspect taking second fiddle to taste. Gogyo on the other hand made sure his dishes tasted good while focusing on how his food will affect his judges. Moreover, if he could stay a step ahead of Jan and the ingredients he uses, he could use his skills to counter taste or physiological change that Jan's dishes can bring up. So Jan's taking the initiative, had him falling behind Gogyo's defensive cooking. Defensive cooking is not very creative or spectacular, but it appears to do the job, especially for someone who is not a chef.
What Jan needs to do is mix up his game plan. He has to take advantage of how little his rival knows about cooking. If he can use ingredients that are familiar to Japanese palettes, if he can cook dishes that are unique and exquisite and if he can read his opponents slow movements he can make something that can be a step ahead of his competition. In other words, he has to be even more aggressive in order to make something spectacular enough to counter the simple items Gogyo makes. It is a risk he has to take and if he has any pride as a chef and as a member of Gobancho he has to start winning this way now.Comments
Pride can drive people to do the extraordinary. Jan and Gogyo in this volume are both going above in beyond at times as they fight for their pride. Gogyo is steamed at how an amateur is keeping up with him. Jan has been on the ropes since the start of the competition but he has never given up. It is as if he does not know when to give up. Jan conversely is fighting for his pride as a chef. He has trained his entire life to be the best Chinese chef out there and he will not lose to someone masquerading as one. To Jan, nothing will be more humiliating. Therefore, he is determined to do anything to ruin Gogyo and expose him for the fraud he is.
In this volume Saijyo-sensei, one again works on his characters with subtle growth and his unique sense of flair. He manipulates his readers by injecting varied pacing techniques and action scenes. At the same time, to keep the pace up he keeps changing his characters despite their volatile personalities. Jan and Gogyo have very similar personalities, but as Gogyo has to hide his true persona, Jan is not someone who would hide his shortcomings. Instead, he flaunts it, accepting the negative and positive with open arms. To him competition is a normal part of his performance behind the stove and he is fine being the underdog, the bad guy and a magician. In Jan, Saijyo has created the perfect anti-hero - aggressive, conceded, determined, abusive, and emotionally weak and at the same time very talented. Jan in this volume is able to keep his emotions in check, which is a big change from what we have seen in his previous struggles. I hope he can do the same with Kiriko soon, as well.
One whole volume dedicated to non-stop cooking battles is almost too much to handle. Actually, it is so good that I went through the 200+ pages in around 15 minutes. In a way, I was a little annoyed by that as there would be a three-month wait for the next volume, but it really illustrated how Saijyo manipulates his readers with action, comedy and a flamboyant cast all done in a cooking manga. Imagine if this was a fighting manga. Those concepts would be overdone and possibly annoying. Readers might tire of the attitude of a lead like Jan. However, in the typically reserved world of cooking, personalities like Jan and Gogyo are welcomed for their extreme behavior and superior skill. Saijyo has his cast not just cook, but like wrestlers, they interact with their audiences putting on identities that help their work look like a choreographed production from start to finish. There is nothing like it in North America, nothing quite as entertaining or unique. Iron Wok Jan is in a world of its own right now and it is one that everyone should visit and sample.