Friday, May 20, 2011

Mixed Vegetables, Volume 1 by Ayumi Komura

Hanaya Ashitaba is studying the culinary arts at the Oikawa High School cooking department, but her ambitions aren't what her peers think. Yes, she is the heir to the celebrated Ashitaba Patisserie, but her true ambition is to become a sushi chef. Unfortunately, she is the main heir to her family's restaurant, and the only other choice, her younger brother, is all set out to become a big name in baseball.

But Hanaya has a plan to deal with her problems. Also in her school is Hayato Hyuga, the heir to the prestigious Sushi Hyuga, and Hanaya dreams of marrying him and taking over her husband's sushi restaurant. Now all she has to do is get him interested in her, and learning slicing and chopping skills from him is one way to go about it.

Hayato Hyuga has dreams of his own, though, and even though he is the only heir to his family's sushi empire, he wants to fulfill his dream... of becoming a world-famous pastry chef! And to do that, he'll do anything, even romance and marry Hanaya Ashitaba. Especially when he becomes aware of who she is and that she seems to be interested in him. But neither have any real romantic feelings for each other, and both are only interested in each other for ulterior reasons.

But first, both of them have to pass their examinations to even begin to become any kind of chef, let alone sushi chefs and cake bakers. But can either of them see beyond the bright futures they dream for themselves or will their dreams make them unable to see the here and now? What would happen if they had to give up what they wanted most?

Hanaya, though, is having second feelings about what she is doing to Hayato. Is it dishonest to be in a relationship when all you want to do is marry into a family just so you can cook the food you want to cook? Does Hayato feel the same way, and how would be react if Hanaya confessed all to him? Does Hanaya have the kind of cast-iron heart that would allow her to mislead a boy she is actually coming to feel something for? Or will her newly tender emotions allow her to go on with her dishonest relationship?

This is a cute book about a couple who each wants what they will never get from their family: a chance to cook food that their family-owned businesses *don"t* specialize in. Each of them sails into a relationship with the other with the intent of deceiving each other into thinking they are interested for themselves, and not just for where they see themselves working. Regardless of your feelings on their deceptions, I could see a solution right from the start: Marry, combine the businesses, and each work in the other's section of the business.

And when the reader can see an almost immediate solution to the problem and the characters can't, I consider that a bad thing, because it means that the characters are a little stupid, which makes me care less about them. But as the story went on, I found myself in sympathy with both characters, especially that Hanaya is so uncomfortable with what she is doing to Hayato. Even if it's somewhat cliché that the girl is the more emotional one of the pair, it also shows she can't be as coldhearted as all that.

So, despite my initial feelings about the manga, I did find myself enjoying it. I only hope this isn't a story that's going to drag on and on. I want to see some closure fairly soon, and I hope I'll get it. I'd definitely recommend this manga to anyone who enjoys cooking or romance, since I have the feeling that Hanaya and Hayato will end up together, sooner rather than later. I just hope the story doesn't get stupid in the meantime.

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