Antique Bakery (amazon)
One of the things I loved about Japan was all the neighborhood bakeries. You can stop in and get a little piece of cake or some bread like melon pan. I don’t tend to read much yaoi manga, but I thought the idea of a series set in a bakery sounded quite charming.
Antique Bakery is a little shop run by the resolutely heterosexual Tachibana, the gay “fatally charming” pastry chef Ono, and a retired boxer turned apprentice baker named Eiji. The major weakness of Antique Bakery in the first volume is the plot. The first 2/3rds of the book features a series of “customer of the week” vingettes, where we get a glimpse into the lives of some of the people who stop by the shop to buy some cake. The last third of the book is much more interesting as it shows how Tachibana, Ono, and Eiji got together to start up their bakery. Ono’s over-the-top charm is pretty hilarious. I was expecting more boy-on-boy smooching since this was a yaoi title, but there wasn’t very much going on. Overall, it was a cute but uneven book. I’m not sure if I’m going to be picking up any more volumes of this, although if I hear that the plotting improves in later volumes I might give it another try.
Bambi and Her Pink Gun (amazon)
This is a mature readers title that is a bit hard to describe, but I’ll attempt to summarize it with the following words – “hyper-violent pink acid trip tinged with social criticism”. Bambi is a teenage girl with the aforementioned pink gun, and she’s very concerned with maintaining the purity of her beautiful body, so she always shops organic! She kidnapped the son of a deranged pop star and is on a mission to deliver the boy to the mysterious “Old Men”. She’s got a five million yen bounty on her head, but Bambi shoots first and doesn’t bother asking questions, leaving a trail of slaughtered assassins in her wake. Kaneko’s art uses thick lines and a cartoony style that I think should appeal to fans of American indie comics. Bambi is a bit of a cypher, as her primary vocabulary is “Me Bambi!” followed by a gunshot. How high will the body count be at the end of the series?
Both Antique Bakery and Bambi and Her Pink Gun are published by Digital Manga Publishing , the books are larger than the standard manga format, and both feature slipcovers. The slipcover for Antique Bakery is scratch-n-sniff (strawberries). Both of these titles were a bit out of my usual comfort zone for manga, and I’m glad that there are more options available for people than the standard fantasy, action, or teen romance story.