The Japanese take their food very seriously.
So, of course, there’s a manga genre about food. Many, like Iron Wok Jan are based around Iron Chef–like cooking battles (and spoiler alert: very buxom women).
But Oishinbo or “The Gourmet”— Japan’s longest-running food manga series (with more than 100 million copies sold)—has a gentler narrative drive. It’s about food and our relationship to it.
The series tracks the adventures of anti-hero Shirō Yamaoka a culinary journalist searching for The Ultimate Meal.
In order to prepare this menu, Shirō Yamaoka and Yuko Kurita [his colleague who he eventually marries] are to travel around to different parts of Japan, sampling the local cuisine and comparing the relative merits and aesthetic differences between the various offerings. A rival newspaper has hired Yamaoka’s father, Yuzan Kaibara, one of the most venerated food and pottery critics in all of Japan, to prepare a menu of his own. Yamaoka is estranged from his father due to their inability to tolerate one another and, predictably enough, these food duels between father and son often take center stage as they contrast different ideas about cooking and eating across a broad range of different kinds of food.