Iron Wok Jan Vol. #11 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: DrMaster
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 198
  • ISBN: 1-58899-302-7
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Iron Wok Jan Vol. #11

By Eduardo M. Chavez     July 17, 2005
Release Date: March 01, 2005

Iron Wok Jan Vol.#11
© DrMaster

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

What They Say
Jan finally exposes the Taoist Gogyo for the fraud he is. But not before he dazzles the judges with his insatiable cuisines. Gogyo is easily the toughest opponent Jan has ever faced and the ensuing culinary bout begins to wane on poor Jan's stamina. Will he be able to see this battle to the end or will even an exposed Gogyo prove more than Jan can handle?

The Review
The final showdown between Jan and Gojyo is ending and in the end these two magicians will have to take their judges to heaven in order to receive the accolades they so deserve.

The series is printed right to left in a short B6. This cover features Jan and Kiriko dishing up a plate of mushroom beef in black bean sauce. Yum! The image is wrapped in a magenta frame with the logo on the top right corner. The back cover features Jan in an old driving outfit (goggles, scarf and all) beneath the volume description.
Logo Check!! (2003 Megs)... the original logo is simple and while the DrMaster 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. This volume has picked up the slack from the last volume in regards to extras by including recipes for Milk Jelly with Coconut Sauce, Garlic Chrysanthemum and Young Sardine Crepe and Sweet Rice Siu Mai. DrMaster also included ads for 888, Imperfect Hero, Tori Koro, Cosplay Koromo-chan, Category: Freaks, Dark Edge and High School Girls.

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, and characters tend to be a little on the long side for me. However I have to agree with another AoD poster who says: Saijyo makes some of the best BIG breasted women in manga. Take that as you wish...

DrMaster continues C1's tradition of being one of the best in the business in regards to SFX. 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, DrMaster translates three of them as "drip".
The translation has been much more fluid as of late. More importantly I did not notice any major grammar errors or typos, which were more frequent in the early volumes. I did notice that they changed the name of one of the characters this volume. Gojyo is now Gogyo, for some reason.
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)
Jan has had to fight an uphill battle since decided to take on Otani, the Taoist Gojyo and their media whore cohorts. Everything was stacked against him. The setting, the judges, the announcer and the choice of dishes. This was a trap from the beginning and Jan could see through most of it from the start.

He would not have wanted it any other way. Actually in the previous volume he completely embraced having to play the bad guy in this competition. He donned the black chef's jacket. He played up the evil nature by having a flashy and crude introduction. That is Jan really; he cannot have it easy because he was raised to believe that cooking is about competing. Now he is faced with the ultimate test. Jan the perfect bad chef, has to cook a dish that will take his judges to heaven. Hell is pretty easy, but heaven is something that is unattainable for many of us. To expect anyone to be able to achieve that through a dish is a beautiful thing, and for Jan to change his stripes to accomplish such a dish would be difficult to say the least.

Luckily for Jan, his competition was able to help him out quite a bit. Gojyo being the egotistical maniac that he is, was never capable of playing fair. Actually, he was hired for this job because of his wicked manner. Gojyo is quite possibly Jan's equal in regards to competitiveness. He might even have a greater sense of vengeance than Jan has (if that is even possible). All Jan has to do is keep a few steps ahead of Gojyo and the lunatic will self-destruct as he has in the previous two rounds. If Jan can just cook like he can, his magic will be enough to pull this off. However if he is not able to read what the Taoist doctor is doing with his ingredients then the tide might finally turn against Jan and Gobancho restraunt will be pulled in by the current.

A chef versus a doctor, both sociopathic, this is a cooking battle for the ages. One that will end up being replayed on TV for much more than its characters. The dishes and most importantly the ingredients will remain in history and they will end up deciding who is the greatest Chinese on this day.

Goodness I cannot believe how outrageous this volume was. Heaven and hell is right, but this one was definitely more hellish than anything. What set this apart from any of the previous volumes of IWJ is how low and void of compassion the rival was here. We have seen Jan’s opponents be cruel. Dan is as cruel as one can get with his poisoning and sabotage. We know Otani is self-centered and vengeful. This whole competition is an example of that. Jan himself is no saint. However, he does have some decency. Actually, every one of his rivals seemed to have something they cared about. It could have been as shallow as their restaurant or their image, but there was some shame. Gojyo has no shame. He lost that sometime long before the events in this manga. He has become a calculating man fueled by anger and frustration.

That anger brought out the hell from him. He wished to ascend to heaven once the judges tasted his delectable dish. One can only wonder what would have possessed this man to do what he did to attempt to achieve that. The dish is unique as it is, but his special ingredient would not have gone un-noticed for long.

In my years of reading manga, I have run into a small number of titles that can compare to IWJ in regards to creativity and viciousness. Saijyo seems to have a wicked mind that celebrates the little bad guy in everyone's soul. Saijyo just seems to like to push that part of one's ego beyond the realm of where we as readers can believe is possible. The fact that Jan is an ass is critical because his charm comes from always being the underdog. He must always exceed our expectation, and when he does not we can feel sympathy. Having characters just as cruel, forces readers to become engaged in the book to the point where they must choose between evils.

Choosing between Jan and Gojyo is easy but the prospect of seeing either one of the two fall would be simply delicious. This series just keeps getting better and better.


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