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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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03/24/2008 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Antique Bakery, Volume 1"

Antique Bakery
By Fumi Yoshinaga
Published by Digital Manga Publishing

Review by Ryes

Antique Bakery is one of Yoshinaga's funniest works. It's a cross between love stories and slice of life. It does introduce a lot of characters in such a short volume but Yoshinaga makes you feel as though you know everything about them or you want to know more of them. It's Yoshinaga's memorable characters that made a fan out of me.

There are lots of characters coming and going but this first volume is mainly about three men: Tachibana, Ono, and Kanda. Tachibana's family is rich, so he's used to having anything he wants. His parents were shocked to find out that he wanted to open a bakery shop, but like the supportive parents they are, they throw themselves into finding him the best pastry chef there is. So he meets Ono (again) and they start up Antique Bakery.

Kanda is still young, twenty-something, and was a boxer before but had to quit because he had detached retinas. He was depressed about the news but soon found Antique Bakery and fell in love with the pastry chef's works. Ono convinces Tachibana that it's a good idea to take on Kanda as an apprentice and assistant.

I saved Ono for last because he is the funniest and most endearing Yoshinaga character. Ono is gay and never made a point of hiding it. In high school, he confessed to Tachibana, but Tachibana is a homophobic jerk and rejects Ono. Ono, feeling down, spirals into a depression out of which the current Ono is born. He may be the best pastry chef and the nicest and sweetest man around, but don't underestimate him. He is a "GAY OF DEMONIC CHARM." He's been fired from every job he had up until now because he just can't turn off that charm! And he hasn't met a single man who can resist him—until Tachibana.

Antique Bakery is like a slice of life because most of it is just flashes in the characters' lives. People come to the bakery and meet new people. They reform old friendships, and they fix up their relationship problems. It's a collection of short stories that are more character-centric and less of the weighty plots.

Antique Bakery is a must-have for Yoshinaga fans, and even if you aren't a fan yet, there's plenty to convert you in this book. After reading a few chapters, you come to appreciate Yoshinaga's spare and clean style because it draws focus to the characters and their actions and facial expressions. Her art compliments her style of story-telling. Antique Bakery is also chock full of humor—Ono never fails to make me laugh. I'm glad there are four of these books, and after surfing around on the web, I dug up some doujinshis which I will be reading in a minute. If you have some hours to spare, even if you don't, the Antique Bakery series is one of the best ways to kill time. Highly recommended!

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