In Japan, you can find comics about almost any subject under the sun. Little wonder then that the land of ramen and sushi also has a thriving subgenre of comics devoted to food. While the English language market has only scratched the surface of what's available in Japan, here is a sampling of recently released comics about cooking and eating.
By Fumi Yoshinaga
You might know Fumi Yoshinaga for her historical epic Ooku, or you might know her for boys love manga, like Antique Bakery. But Yoshinaga is also a gourmet who loves to cook. So take a gay couple, add in some tasty recipes and mix it up with some wry slice-of-life comedy and you've got What Did You Eat Yesterday? a delightful series about two gay men and the meals they cook and enjoy together.
Shiro is a closeted gay lawyer who loves to cook almost as much as he likes saving money. Kenji is carefree, very out hairdresser. The stories in What Did You Eat Yesterday? are centered around Shiro's trips to the market to find what's cheap and in season, and how he turns them into tasty, budget-friendly meals.
But What Did You Eat Yesterday? is more than just a collection of recipes. Through their conversations with their families, friends, neighbors and co-workers, Kenji and Shiro give readers a rare look into the everyday lives of two gay men living in and out of the closet in Tokyo.
By Shigeru Tsuchiyama
Digital Manga Publishing
Gluttony and gastronomy mix in this trio of manga by Shigeru Tsuchiyama. Eat for Your Life! follows the adventures of an office worker whose taste for good food is often greater than his paycheck. He soon discovers the world of competitive eating, where overeating athletes go head-to-head to eat fast and eat a lot to gain fame and fortune.
Chow Down Champs is about competitive eating at the high school level, where teens with big appetites compete for glory against high schools throughout Japan. King of Extreme Cooking features a traveling chef who swoops into struggling restaurants to give them a taste of new ideas and recipes for success.
While all three are digital-only releases (Kindle, Kobo Nook, iBooks), they're fast, fun reads that leave you hungry for more (and for ramen and pork cutlet too!)
By Nozomi Yanahara
Digital Manga Publishing
A 30-something anthropology PhD scholar has his life turned upside down when he gains a new roommate and responsibility: his very shy tween cousin. After years of traveling the world and studying different people from different cultures, Harumi Takasugi finds that his biggest challenge is trying to understand 12-year-old Kururi.
Surprisingly, the one thing that seems to bridge the gap between them is cooking. As they learn about making inexpensive, appetizing bento box lunches, Harumi and Kururi also learn about each other, and how to be a family.
A sweet and simple slice-of-life story, Takasugi-san's Obento is a tween/teen-friendly story that has enough tasty bits of drama, romance, and foodie fun to satisfy grown-up gourmets too.
By Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki
Shonen Jump/VIZ Media
Soma Yukihira is a teen chef who whips up tasty dishes with ease at his dad's neighborhood restaurant. When his dad goes abroad, he sends Soma to Totsuki Institute, an elite boarding school where he must compete against his classmates to create world-class gourmet dishes. The prize? Fame, fortune and a career in the upper echelons of the culinary world. But the competition is fierce, and the price of failure is expulsion.
By taking the best ingredients from shonen manga (school life, friendship and competition), and tossing in some saucy scenes where tasters have near orgasmic reactions to eating delicious food, Food Wars has found a recipe that appeals to teen readers and foodies alike. This comic gets extra culinary cred thanks to cookbook author Yuki Morisaki, who contributes to the recipes that help readers recreate these manga meals at home.
Currently serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump, Food Wars will also get an extra boost of popularity when the anime series will debut in April 2015.