Friday, May 20, 2011

Mixed Vegetables, Volume 2 by Ayumi Komura

Hanaya Ashitaba and Hayato Hyuga each dream of being celebrated and world-famous chefs. The only problem is that each wants to be famous in the specialty of each other's family! Hanaya, whose family owns the Patisserie Ashitaba, wants nothing more from life than to be a sushi chef. And Hayato Hyuga, whose family owns Sushi Hyuga, would love it if he could spend all his days baking cakes and whipping up pastries.

But when they start dating, each of them seems to really feel something for the other, and Hanaya wonders if Hayato might actually feel something for her and not just want to marry for the business, like she does. But when she blurts out why she really accepted his romance on their first big date, he stuns her by revealing his own not-so- honorable motives. Realizing that neither is going to get what they want in the relationship, they abruptly break up. But knowing each other's secret dreams and aspirations makes them something more than just classmates, and something like actual friends.

Slowly, they begin to see into each other's worlds, and why each feels as they do about their chosen cooking profession. But decision time is coming up for each of them- the cooking teacher at the school has each student do an assignment where they lay out their future goals and dreams, so that he can discuss it with them and their parents. And this makes Hanaya very unhappy, because she knows that her dreams and aspirations will disappoint her parents greatly, and despite her dreams, she never wanted to make them unhappy.

As she struggles to recreate the Egg Roll Omelette that she first had at the Sushi shop where she conceived her desire to become a sushi chef, Hanaya decides to help Hayato with his baking. And when they pass that exam, he decides to return the favor and help her discover the Egg Roll Omelette that she loved so much. But will the unexpected ending of that cooking help bring them closer together? And what happens if they really do fall in love with each other? Who will lose out on the deal?

Like I said, when the reader can see a solution to the problems of the pair in the Shojo romance manga long before the characters can, that's not a good thing. In the first volume, because it's told almost entirely from Hanaya's point of view, Hanaya comes off looking bad and heartless, that she'd consider dating a boy just to be able to be a sushi chef. But now we see that Hayato is just as heartless- he went into the relationship for the same reason she did. And when it looks like neither will back down from their dreams, well, they decide to break up.

But the bond of wanting to be something they aren't brings them together, and each can help the other with their dream, so as they struggle to find someone to marry to each fulfill their dreams, they start getting closer and closer, almost acting more loverly than they did when they were actually dating each other! Is this a good thing or a bad thing, and will any feelings for each other be dismissed when they want their dreams more than love with another person?

Readers may start the volume thinking that Hanaya doesn't deserve Hayato, but it's soon revealed that each really deserves each other. There is something kind of off-putting in how each so easily decides to use the other. But I hope that the characters become more sympathetic in time. Some parts of their "romance" are sickening, but we can hope they make more of an actual connection later. Recommended, but be warned that this series may turn you off at first.

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