License request day: I’ll take the usual

January 15, 2010

It probably won’t come as any surprise to you that I was a weird kid. One of the many, many ways I was weird had to do with beverages. Virtually anything one could imbibe just tasted better to me if it was served in a glass from my parents’ cocktail set, and it would taste better still if it was garnished in some way, preferably with a maraschino cherry. This applied to everything from soda (in the evenings, obviously, or as an after-school libation) to juice in the morning.

It’s not like I’ve turned into a huge drunk or anything. As I age I find that my tolerance is waning for such things, so I tend to drink for the taste of things. I don’t really get cocktail culture, and I die inside when I look at a restaurant’s “martini menu” and see ingredients best confined to the candy counter and not the bar. (I blame Sandra Lee. I could endorse a “Cocktail Time” segment in just about any cooking program, but not when it involves so much white chocolate liqueur, or any at all.)

But mixology does have its allure for me. As a result, today’s license request is served up by a handsome fellow in a vest with a shaker at the ready: Bartender, originally published by Shueisha in Super Jump, written by Araki Joh (which just sounds like a name you’d hear in a lounge, doesn’t it?) and illustrated by Kenji Nagatomo.

Bartender is about a guy who works in a tucked-away watering hole in the Ginza, mixing life-changing cocktails for a long line of customers from all walks of life. With his gift for mixology and the apocryphal wisdom of the booze peddler, Sasakura makes everything better through liquor. That, my friends, is a beautiful, uplifting message for a comic. Okay, maybe not, but it sounds like a lot of fun. It’s possible that 15 volumes of cocktails might be too much for the average reader, but we can all throw up over that bridge’s railing when we come to it, right?

Joh followed Bartender with Sommelier in Business Jump, so libations are clearly something of a fixation for the author. Sommelier sounds kind of like the wine snob’s equivalent of Black Jack, which could be all kinds of awesome, but I feel like I should only have one wine manga in the hopper at a time.

Go, vote: last chance!

January 15, 2010

Today is the last day to vote in Deb Aoki’s 2009 Manga Readers Polls. I’ve already voted, and I’ll resist the urge to stuff the ballot box in the service of my favorites, but I do like to call up my “Polls” category and look at all the covers of my chosen candidates.