I am completely unqualified to talk about manga, but I’m going to anyway. Presenting– my favorite manga series! (Archive.)
323. Iron Wok Jan!
I’m not usually one to follow manga, but I found a few volumes of this series and picked them up for a quarter apiece. They turned out to be ridiculously awesome, as only Japanese comics can.
Created by Shinji Saijyo, Iron Wok Jan! is the story of, well, Jan, a devil-eyed, blisteringly insane and supremely driven chef who wants to be the best in the world. Naturally, this leads him to many cooking competitions, where his mad genius and tremendous arrogance bring him to victory as well as conflict with his fellow chefs. The competitions are very similar to Iron Chef, only kicked up a few notches (cooking show puns! woo!). In the traditional Japanese genre style, everything is over-the-top, including the kick-ass cooking action that leads to a whirl of speed lines. Each chef character is given their own cooking style and point of view, so a nice variety is kept up.
The art’s snazzy, too. Some might call it your standard manga style, if there is such a thing, but I enjoy the demonic expressions on Jan himself as well as the delicately detailed depictions of the many delicious and deranged dishes that appear within the stories.
One may think a comic about cooking wouldn’t be very exciting, but it is. Iron Wok Jan! surprised me with its quality, however, and I should really seek out more volumes– of which there’s a whopping 27! And it’s not the only cooking manga out there! Man, I envy Japan’s comic industry– they’ve got an amazing spread of genres out there, and do fantastic work for them. There’s room for everything under the rising sun (lordy, the bad jokes).
I recommend checking Jan! out, just to see if it suits your tastes. It’s a weird and crazy action quest comic about competitive cooking. If you’re addicted to the Food Network like I am, and have a bizarre sense of humor, then pick up a volume or twelve. Bet you can’t read just one.
For more on Iron Wok Jan!, read this review of the first volume at Comics Worth Reading.