The title of this one-shot manga says it all.
Yoshinaga, once best known for her engaging depictions of romantically entangled handsome men and mouth-watering desserts, decides to go all out with the food porn in this hilarious, narratively-linked guide to some of her home-town’s best eateries.
The “story,” if you can call it that, follows a food-loving yaoi manga-ka (referred to as “F-mi Y-naga”–hmm, on whom could she possibly be based?) on research excursions to several real Tokyo restaurants for a work assignment and concludes each chapter with information on location, hours, parking, and additional menu notes. Since good food is best enjoyed with good company, Y-naga brings along friends, co-workers, and unsuspecting dates with whom she longs to share her enthusiasm and good taste. Her varying degrees of commonality with her eating partners and their diverse personalities supply much of the book’s humor, but Y-naga’s uncouth personal habits and exuberance are plenty funny on their own. S-hara, her most frequent companion, is her long-term acquaintance and live-in manga assistant, but readers looking for romance will be disappointed, finding every teasing suggestion of such a thing resolving, not at all unsatisfactorily, into mere close friendship and, of course, jokes.
On the subject of fodder for jokes, Y-naga makes no bones about how she earns her living–and her blunt reference to her characters’ usual recreational activities on the first page justifies the publisher’s suggested Older Teen rating–but she also seems to speak for the real Yoshinaga as she sincerely apologizes to a gay friend for her perpetuation of unrealistic homosexual relationships in her work. Happily, he forgives her–and not just because she’s treated him to a scrumptious sushi dinner.
Anyone who’s salivated over the author’s Antique Bakery confections will find little not to love here. Admittedly, black-and-white, hand-drawn, and screentoned meat dishes don’t look quite as appetizing on their own as do layers of fruit and cream and cake, but Yoshinaga’s accompanying textual descriptions paired with her sometimes beautiful, sometimes goofy, always likeable characters’ ecstatic reactions fill in any gaps in the visuals’ taste-bud appeal.
I love to see Yoshinaga branching out and trying her talented hand at new things that clearly fascinate her. When an author enjoys his or her work, it shows. Not Love But Delicious Foods… is a quirky little love letter to a handful of her favorite establishments and a giggle-fueled treat for foodies and Yoshinaga fans, alike, whether or not they ever have the opportunity to try out the venues she so glowingly recommends. It’s Oishinbo meets Bakuman meets No Reservations with a josei spin. I only wish there were more of it!