Iron Wok Jan (Volume 2), by Shinji Saijyo

Posted: March 17, 2009 in Manga / Graphic Novels / Japanese Novels
Tags: , , , , ,

Iron Wok Jan v.2After reading and reviewing Iron Wok Jan (Volume 1), I decided to continue the series in an attempt to determine whether or not this one is a keeper.

Story overview:

Jan (the obnoxious trainee with great cooking skills) goes on a camping trip with Takao (the not so obnoxious trainee, but without the great cooking skills). After working his magic on some quail (and an old chicken that Takao fond), Jan shares that his desire for cooking comes from a promise he made to his grandfather.

Back at the restaurant, Jan humiliates the arrogant food critic, Nichido Otani, yet again, which causes the man to seek for a way to destroy Jan’s name. An idea occurs to Nichido, and so he assembles “The First National Young Adult Chinese Cuisine Cooking Contest” (whew, can that get any longer??). His hope is that a greater chef will emerge and put Jan in his place. Meanwhile, Kiriko (the granddaughter of the Gobancho Restaurant owner, and trainee), seeks to discover a way to sculpt a radish on her own, determined not to accept help from anyone.

When the cooking contest starts, Jan surprises the judges by drugging them with a soup made from “Magic Mushrooms”. Kiriko thinks this is morally wrong and shows her distain by punching Jan right in the face. Nonetheless, they both make it to the second round of the contest and only Volume 3 will tell us what happens next.

My thoughts:

I’m not ready to call it a keeper, but I can say that it’s starting to grow on me. The characters are not black and white and there’s potential to see a lot more depth in them. Also, the recipes have not ceased to be ever more intriguing.

Things to consider:

Thirteen and up, just as the last one, and geared more towards boys. There are a few shots of Kiriko, wearing a little less than appropriate outfit at her home, but nothing extremely inappropriate.

Opportunities for discussion:

The theme of motivation continues strong, yet I would add that this may be a good time to talk to your kids about drugs, as Jan uses mushrooms for a recipe, and as mentioned, Kiriko thinks this is wrong to the extreme.

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Comments
  1. gdevoogd says:

    Shinji,

    Seems that this book allows for discussions on how pride (humiliating Otani) and violence (punching Jan in the face) are not great ways to solve problems i.e. if things don’t work out well for Jan and Kiriko. It seems like children need to see that pride and violence does not result in positive outcome. This is where children’s literature should be different than adult literature which can be more ambiguous.

    Glenn

  2. Good point. My review of “The Amulet of Samarkand” touched upon Pride, but it is also a big factor in this story too. We get the idea that it resides behind the motives of Jan. Kiriko seems to be less about pride and more about challenging herself to learn the hard way, but she too has some elements of it—although, as mentioned in my review of the first volume, her motives are more centered around heart.

    While in the discussion of pride, Nichido Otani (the critic) is probably the most prideful of the bunch. We get hints that Jan’s pride is based upon an insecurity created by his grandfather, where as Nichido seems to be purely arrogant—but I have yet to see if he doesn’t also have a story to be shown. So far, he’s the story’s main “bad guy”.

    In a sense, some of the appeal of this series is seeing pride faceoff against pride. I can only hope that as the story progresses, these things begin to show more fault. I’ll keep everyone posted as I continue review each volume–hopefully this isn’t going to be too tedious for the list readers, but I do plan to keep reviewing additional materials throughout the weeks too.

  3. […] 1) Iron Wok Jan (Volume 1) 2) Iron Wok Jan (Volume 2) […]

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