Komomo Confiserie, vols. 1-3

Monday, February 6, 2017  By  Nic Willcox     No comments

Komomo has always been rich and spoiled. When she was a child, her family even had their own pastry chef. Since Komomo got everything she wanted except attention from her parents, she took her frustrations out on the pastry chef’s son, Natsu. Komomo bullied Natsu mercilessly, even though she secretly loved the sweets he made. When Natsu’s family moved to France, Komomo didn’t expect to see him ever again.

Ten years later, Komomo’s family abruptly loses everything, and she’s informed that she will now be attending public school and looking for a job. Within a week, Komomo’s bratty attitude and total lack of know-how get her fired from one workplace after another. Then Natsu shows up. Even though he and Komomo are just fifteen, Natsu is now a celebrated pastry chef. He’s back from France to open up a sweet shop in their hometown and he wants Komomo to work for him and live in the apartment above the shop. Komomo is conflicted: she doesn’t have a lot of options and her memories of Natsu center on the sweet treats he used to make for her. But Natsu clearly hasn’t forgotten how Komomo treated him when they were kids, and he’s planning to make her pay for it.

Natsu is a classic tsundere character and your feelings about this trope will basically determine whether or not you like Komomo Confiserie, especially in the beginning. For those unfamiliar with the term, tsundere characters are initially mean and cold towards another character, but eventually warm up to them or even fall in love with them; sometimes the term can also refer to characters who simply run hot and cold or put up a mean front to disguise their inner kindness. When they meet again as teenagers, Natsu is very mean to Komomo; his concern for her well-being drives him to seek her out and hire her, but that doesn’t change the fact that he belittles her, “comically” punches her in the head when she annoys him, and openly revels in her tears when she’s upset. He also refuses to train her or help her do her job right, and when she does it wrong, he punishes her and docks her pay.

After the first volume, Natsu’s meanness subsides slightly, perhaps due to his conflicting feelings about Komomo. There are strong hints that Natsu is romantically interested in Komomo, which is no surprise, since this is shojo manga and that’s how tsundere characters work. Even so, by the end of volume three, he’s still not exactly nice to her. Meanwhile, Komomo’s story isn’t centered solely on Natsu: she’s busy making friends, navigating public school, learning to cook, and generally achieving character development. Her bratty behavior quickly improves and she becomes upbeat and determined, applying a can-do attitude to every challenge… including Natsu.

There’s dating and talk of love in these books, but no nudity or sexual content. However, there are some mature situations; at one point, Komomo and a friend are tricked by two men who plan to take compromising photos of the girls and blackmail them (a plan foiled by the girls and Natsu right away). Violence is discussed and threatened, but no serious on-page violence occurs, just a few scuffles that are mostly played for laughs.

The artwork is detailed and pretty, fitting for a shojo manga. In addition to bubbly and flowery backgrounds, there are lots of delicious-looking sweets. Author and artist Minami provides notes in each volume about the treats and how they’re made, and there are also interesting asides about the research she did in confectioner’s shops. She even shares some layout sketches of Natsu’s sweet shop and other locations, showing that the backgrounds have been planned in great detail, even though the artwork focuses on the characters and their emotions.

Fans of tsundere characters or “enemy turned lover” storylines will likely enjoy this series. It might also be popular with readers who like to watch a plucky heroine overcome obstacles when the odds are stacked against her.

Komomo Confiserie, vols. 1-3
by Maki Minami
vol 1 ISBN: 9781421581392
vol 2 ISBN: 9781421581408
vol 3 ISBN: 9781421581415?
VIZ Media, 2013
Publisher Age Rating: Teen

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