Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Mixed Vegetables, Vol. 1

Story and Art by Ayumi Komura
Released in the US by Viz Shojo Beat

Slugline: More revealing about the state of marriage and relationships than of cooking.

Hanayu is the daughter of pastry chef that has his own shop with an expectation that she will take over the shop. Because if she wanted to accept that there would be no conflict, Hanayu instead has the desire to be a sushi chef, and has decided to get married into a sushi family so that she can legitimately follow her desire without disappointing her parents. Fortunately in her cooking high school there is a son of a sushi chef family named Hayato whom she decides to pursue. She is rather successful in that pursuit, so successful that she debates with herself whether pursuing a boy for his family connections is right, and trying to understand how her own parent's arranged marriage can serve as a model for her.

Ignore the cooking aspect, and here is a very interesting story about marriage as a transaction. Marriage for love is a western tradition, but it is still a relatively recent one, otherwise it would not be held in such high regard in romantic fiction or in manga. Most of the time in manga we see the rejection of the arranged marriage in order to pursue the marriage for love, but here we see someone trying to arrange her own marriage, not out of the search of good provider or compatible families and social rank, but to pursue her own dreams. An interesting subversion of the arranged marriage story, as she tries to fall in love after selecting her husband to justify her choice after the fact. Now, the back cover text talks about how Hayato really just wants to be a pastry chef, but that complication has yet to arise in the actual text, which could turn this story into a farce (in the comedic sense) rather than a subversion of the arranged marriage. Hayato so far has been rather unassertive, which may turn this story around once he starts pursuing his own dreams and desires, but the first volume is amusingly subversive.

Mixed Vegetables, Vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga


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