きのうなに食べた？Kinou Nani Tabeta? (What did you eat yesterday) by Yoshinaga Fumi
Serialized in Morning
Published by Kodansha.
What did you eat for dinner last night?
Fish and chips? Chinese takeout? Pot Roast? How about a grilled fish, marinated in soy and miso, but not too long to save the sweetness of the fish, matched with a clear vegetable soup and red rice? And probably at the same price as your Chinese takeout. Yoshinaga Fumi returns to us with a very delectable treat, one that we have missed ever since Antique Bakery. We now have 2 guys in their 40s, sharing an apartment, and eating some of the yummiest dinners with ingredients bought in the best of seasons and on a budget. Yes, Fumi’s back in her element with a delightfully yummy manga serving where she asks us “Kinou, nani tabeta?”, what did you yesterday?
FOOD! FOOD! GLORIOUS FOOD!
Kinou Nani Tabeta, what did you eat yesterday, is a slice of life tale between a gay couple living together and trying to eat hearty meals under a budget. You have Shirou Kakei, a conservative gay lawyer who would rather think of how he can save 300 yen on a watermelon over confessing to his office that he’s gay. His partner, Kenji Yabuki is a flamboyantly gay hairdresser who would rather buy the newest Haagen Daaz in a convenience store than waiting for it to go on sale in the nearest grocery. The couple’s quite an odd pair, the kind that Yoshinaga-sensei loves to mess with in her mangas. But instead of getting the usual dose of scrotching,1 she illustrates a more normal, less raunchy couple who seem to be more passionate about sharing dinners than letting Yoshinaga-sensei draw them doing the nasty. And it’s heart-warming to see how this series shows how important it is to share meals with other people. Really, this series is barely about the gay couple that stars in it. It is really more about the food and pleasure of saying how yummy it tastes!
It was in Manga Cast where I first heard of Yoshinaga Fumi’s seinen venture. Ed was oggling over some new series running in Morning and one of them was this said title. I’m not sure if that was Ed’s inner fujoshi that got him to talk about the series, but I’m sure his inner gourmet glossed over the supposed BL overtones and just pimped the series anyway because of the food. This series has more foodie elements than Antique. Yoshinaga-sensei goes deeper into her foodie element and dedicates chapters on the preparation of a dish or an entire menu. She thinks about costing, how to mix and match ingredients, and even how you can use the left overs for the next day. It’s amazing to read the dedication that Kakei puts in every meal. Occasionally, you get a tip or two about preparing dishes, like adding the mirin at the end of some dishes to make it sweeter. Yoshinaga-sensei encapsulates the love and art in food preparation in this manga and god, I do wonder what her Morning editor ate when she came up with this manga.
Okay, so I can’t disregard the fact that they’re both gay
Fine, I’m somewhat obliged to write it because as much as I love the food in this series, I am also amused with how Kakei and Yabuki get by with their relationship. I can’t help it, my fujoshi instincts cannot deny how amusing Kakei and Yabuki are. In between the food oggling, Kakei and Shirou would find themselves in situations wherein they would have to tackle their homosexuality. Unlike most BL which forgets the idea of homosexuality and just let them have it, this couple has to deal with their homosexual reality in conservative Japan. Of course, with Yoshinaga-sensei, she does this with great humor, often forcing Kakei to come out of the closet or getting into a jealous spazz because Yabuki can’t get his tongue tied when it comes to their relationship.
I cannot say if sensei is trying to do this in order to give voice to homosexuals in Japanese society, but either way, the manga does pleasantly represent a social stigma that most homosexuals of this day face. You have overly-concerned mothers, flamboyantly gay friends, suspicious women, and a slew of supporters. Of course, she does this in a very light-hearted fashion and more often than not, you gloss this over because of the food. Now that I think about it, maybe she’s using the food as an avenue to open awareness to homosexual issues to Morning readers. Perhaps, how normal most of them act despite being homosexual. In the end, despite the presence of the homosexual couple, I wouldn’t say that this title is her shot at getting back to BL though. This is closer to Antique than it is to Gerard and Jacques. More so, romance is barely the key in this manga. I seriously doubt you’ll be seeing some action in it too.
Whichever way I look at it, whether it’s the food or the gay, Kinou Nani Tabeta is a hearty manga that warms your heart with every story. It shows to us the joys of preparing food and the importance of sharing that meal with others.
- I have to thank Dan for this term… even if it wasn’t for BL [↩]