Iron Wok Jan Vol. #20 -

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: 9.95
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 1-59796-038-1
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Iron Wok Jan Vol. #20

By Eduardo M. Chavez     December 20, 2006
Release Date: August 28, 2006

Iron Wok Jan Vol.#20
© DrMaster

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Saiyjo Shinji
Translated by:Michiko Nakayama
Adapted by:Matthew Scrivner

What They Say
It's the seasoning battle at the Second Annual Chinese Cooking Competition and Jan creates his original chili oil against Ganou Riku's grey-spotted grouper sauce. Also, trouble in the ranks! Will Celine's rage and secret ingredient be enough to prove that "cooking is about abundance" against Ransei Koh's sheer ingenuity?

The Review
I cannot say this about many manga titles but I have reviewed twenty volumes of this series and I am enjoying this title just as much now as I did at the start. Now it is easy to love cooking madness. Until recently with the explosion of different types of moe in media (from traveling to pets), very little could compare to the detail and variety of a cooking manga. I could never say character art and plot was ever very strong in a cooking title (Addicted to Curry might be an exception). However, there is a strange thrill I get by experiencing characters flip out over plating presentation and choice of ingredients. In a way these titles can be as simple as an episodic shonen title, but there needs to be some patience to this genre.

From the very start of the series this title was outrageous; completely broken off from reality. IWJ! is possibly as close as a cooking manga can get to a fantasy title. At the same time this series is one of the better action titles in DrMaster's line-up. Saijyo-sensei captures the speed and technique of cooking Chinese cuisine very well. His paneling in particular really presents the furious rate that chefs work in when holding the wok. Obviously, this series is nothing like your stereotypical cooking title. This title is intense on all levels. Characters are loud and crass. If they are not in your face then Saijyo has failed. The dishes they prepare are so unbelievable they often do not seem very appetizing. And the technique, as noted earlier, is reminiscent of a martial arts manga.

Iron Wok Jan! even at volume 20 is appetizing, though it is getting a little stale. After a couple volumes of battles focusing around Kiriko and Sotheby, we finally return to lead character Jan. And in typical battle cooking form (Iron Chef comes to mind) simplicity is placed head to head against culinary creativity. The battle itself is not as impressive as the conclusion. Saijyo details the culture and the stereotypes associated with what Jan has made. There is no complexity. There are no smoke and mirrors. But in that simple package there is amazing functionality. Understanding that is as exciting as it gets in cooking manga. And once again Iron Wok Jan! serves up a dish that looks old and tired but I as a manga eater gobble it up and ask for more.


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