Iron Wok Jan Vol. #13 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

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: 9.99
  • Pages: 206
  • ISBN: 1-59796-031-4
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Iron Wok Jan Vol. #13

By Eduardo M. Chavez     December 14, 2005
Release Date: September 01, 2005

Iron Wok Jan Vol.#13
© DrMaster

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Saijyo Shinji
Translated by:Michiko Nakayama
Adapted by:

What They Say
A mysterious self-proclaimed cooking genius has defeated 99 other gourmet chefs. Now his culinary cross-hairs are placed squarely on Jan. Can Jan come out on top against this near contender and his female cooking partner? A tasty battle is brewing!!

The Review
The series is printed right to left in a B6. This cover features Jan taking a big bite out of a lamb chop. This has to be one of the meatiest covers yet, as there is meat everywhere! DrMaster has dropped the frame ComicsOne used in favor of the china pattern printed on the top right of the book. The back cover features Jan in a kimono being beaten by Kiriko (who happens to be wearing an old naval uniform).

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. The volume number is on a tomato, as well.

Inside the cover, DrMaster includes two character intro pages in Japanese and English. It’s a little too much for my taste. However, Japanese on the original volume header and chapter headers look great. This volume has recipes for Karii Style Super Pudding, Chilled Pickle Vegetables and Curry Flavored Fish Fry. DrMaster also provided a page with Japanese fan art, as well.

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 facial expressions in general are extreme. Characters have been adjusted recently, as proportion has been fixed for legs and torsos creating a clean and look. At the same time, I have a hard time arguing 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"s.

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. 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)
After two rounds of battling without breaking a sweat, Jan is now in route to a three match-sweep against self-proclaimed legend killer Suguru. Cruising through two rounds of cook-offs has almost been too easy for this maniacal chef, so he did not even think twice when challenged to another one. Actually, Jan was waiting for another round with the cocky amateur to prove a point. Jan wants to show this stuck-up rich punk the difference between professional chefs and wannabe cooks. This is something that goes to the core of Jan and everyone else at Gobancho, and it is an ideology that should be respected by anyone that eats out or cooks at home. Jan is ready to show how effortless out-cooking an armature can be when you have a lifetime of cooking experience to reference.

Well the results were settled quickly despite the odds against Jan. So in the end the young chef defended his pride but that of chefs everywhere.

Unfortunately, whenever Jan is involved nothing is over until he says it is and now Jan wants to call a match of his own. He saw something that was consistent in each round against Suguru. He saw excellent preparation, excellent ingredients and some insight that was much broader than what Suguru showed in his skill. Someone was backing him up and that person must be at least as good as Suguru (which is pretty darn good for an armature).

But Jan had no idea what he was getting himself into with this match-up. Karii Karen might look like a simple retainer, but she has a great mind. Moreover, what she is able to do with a few Bunsen burners and a beaker or two might end up changing the world of cooking as we know it. Jan and his colleagues got to experience that first hand. They got to see what perfect amounts of seasoning and calculating the precise temperature to cook meat can do for a dish. She is changing the idea that armatures cannot be great chefs. She is also challenging the idea that excellent cooking cannot be attainable outside of a restaurant.

Poor Jan did not know what he was getting into and now he might end up being embarrassed by someone who has never even worked in a kitchen before.

When Jan is winning he can be one hell of a character. He is loud, abrasive and he never really knows when to let up. When his spirits are up I cannot think of a lead that I want to see strut his stuff more than Jan. Because when Jan is on a high he is uncontrolled passion. The young man doesn't know how to contain his feelings and he definitely doesn't know when to shut up and be humble. To Jan cooking is about competition and he wants to win each battle. When he does, well, as the saying goes "to the victor goes the spoils" and Jan's heart seems have gone deliciously rotten from winning so much.

Now if you thought a victorious Jan was the best Jan, you definitely have a good case. Defeated Jan is just as good or even better since Saijyo-sensei changes his personality into something almost frightening.

We have seen Jan lose before. He does not take well to defeat. I think he doesn't think it tastes very good. So what he usually does is use his head to not just out-cook his opponent but also outsmart them.

In this volume, Saijyo prevents that from even happening for Jan's opponent cannot be outsmarted. So one would think all Jan would have to do is simply make a better dish, right? What if, in his hubris, Jan walked into a trap? What if Jan gets a little lazy and gets pinched from two sides? What if he loses to someone who isn't even a cook at home? Jan might just blow up. Wouldn’t that be a blast?

For a brief moment I thought continuing the Suguru arc would be a bad idea, but Saijyo gave me the moment I have been patiently waiting for - the biggest threat to Jan's enormous ego. Just having him doubt himself for a few pages was well worth the price of this GN. The shock and clear frustration was evident. In some ways, I felt this was Jan's highest moment as he was quite out of character. And at the same time, that change was a bit of a disappointment as well, for I really was not sure I wanted anything but the freak I have grown to love.

Saijyo essentially made this change at the perfect time in the series. Thirteen volumes in meant a whole lot of victories and only a handful of defeats for our protagonists. I doubt this will be the last we see of the slow development of Jan's character, but I do feel this has been the most significant advancement so far. In addition to the great drama behind the stoves, I thought the cooking battle between Jan and Karii was one of the best so far. This cook-off had a great theme, lamb, and it featured two contrasting cooking styles. While both recipes were based in a traditional Chinese style, Jan's version had accents to clearly favor a Japanese palette. Lamb and duck are often considered too gamey for most Japanese, so his Lambkin with Figs had a Chinese look while creating a sweet moist Japanese taste. The roast lamb that Karii made was a traditional as it gets. People have probably cooked this style of roast for at least hundreds of years. The use of spices here was a critical point to how old this dish was, for this dish really was as simple as cooking gets. The number of ingredients could be counted with one hand and the herbs and spices used are very quite traditional in every sense.

Iron Wok Jan! continues to entertain and entice the palette with every new volume and in this one Saijyo (with Oyama-sensei's help) makes a subtle change to a more traditional way of making his readers demand more helpings of this cooking manga.


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