From the stack: Oishinbo: Izakaya: Pub Food

I’m really going to miss Viz’s A la Carte collections of classic culinary manga Oishinbo, written by Tetsu Kariya and illustrated by Akira Hanasaki. The last installment (I’ll say “for now” because hope springs eternal) focuses kind of loosely on Izakaya, or Pub Food, and it covers a lot of the territory that’s become so endearingly familiar over the course of the series. For instance…

That doesn’t strike me as a compliment, but the characters’ raptures over various dishes often don’t. They say things like, “Oh, the bones of the fish give it a nice crunch!” or “The muskiness is so refreshing!” But there’s absolute sincerity in these exclamations, and that’s part of the charm. I’m not saying I’m ever going to echo the sentiments based on anything I eat, but they do keep things lively and they help paint a taste picture.

I was a super picky eater as a kid, so I have what might be a misplaced level of empathy for the characters featured in Oishinbo’s food peril stories. Let me explain what those are: every now and then, the regulars run across a friend or acquaintance or co-worker who absolutely must learn to like a food they despise. If they don’t, their professional, educational or romantic prospects will go right down the drain. Now, I’ll try any food once at this point, and I’m pretty good at expressing honest dislike of this or that food without judgment or apology, but there’s that nagging anxiety of the picky child. So while the stakes in these stories can be a little ridiculous, I feel the characters’ pain.

Not liking potatoes, though… dude needs to get over that.

Preach it, sister. The panel above is from a story that embodies two big Oishinbo themes: booze is awesome, and kids these days don’t know squat. The latter is generally expressed in the lead’s rivalry with his horrible father, but I’m pleased to report that there are no scarring father-son showdowns in this volume. Instead, a young actor fears for his career because he can’t drink sake properly. Our heroes take him out of town to snack and drink and snack and drink some more until he racks up the right sense memories to really look like that sake hits the spot. Along the way, he learns to hold his liquor and to pace himself so he can drink and snack with the best of them. And that, my friends, is valuable information no matter where you live or how old you are.

3 Responses to From the stack: Oishinbo: Izakaya: Pub Food

  1. miz says:

    I actually teared up when I finished reading this manga. So yes hope springs eternal for Viz to continue with this title..but with Kingyo Used Books by Seimu Yoshizaki being published in print soon, maybe that can change the market slightly.

  2. […] Alexander Hoffman on Oishinbo a la Carte: Japanese Cuisine (Comics Village) David Welsh on Oishinbo: Izakaya: Pub Food (The Manga Curmudgeon) Connie on vol. 35 of One Piece (Slightly Biased Manga) Joy Kim on vol. 13 of […]

  3. […] Second… at the Manga Curmudgeon, David Welsh bids adieu to Oishinbo A la Carte with a look at Izakaya: Pub Food… and speaking of David, don’t forget that he’ll be hosting the very first Manga […]

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