Posts Tagged ‘Iron Wok Jan’

Iron Wok Jan v.3Getting back to the Iron Wok Jan manga series, we move on to the third volume. So far we’ve learned about a sixteen-year-old named Jan, who was brought up by an abusive grandfather–who just so happened to be a master cook.

Jan’s goal is to become the best Chinese food Chef, even if it means working at the Gobancho Restaurant, owned by his dead grandfather’s archrival.

The arrogant food critic, Nichido Otani, is the mastermind behind a Chinese cuisine cooking contest. His goal is to find a chef that can outdo Jan, and by doing so, fulfill his revenge for being humiliated by the boy.

Story overview:

We start where the last volume left off. Jan faces off with another chef, named Sawada, whose cooking style is very showy. The challenge is to make a meal using Beef. Where Sawada takes the tenderest cuts of a cow, Jan decides to use the toughest: the leg. Amazingly enough it works and Jan moves on to the next round.

Kiriko (the granddaughter of the owner of the Gobancho Restaurant, who works with Jan) also passes her rounds and makes it to the finals. Between rounds, we learn how brutal Jan’s grandfather was to him and we see ghastly scars across his back; put there by the old man’s cane.

Several rounds pass and Jan beats out technology with old fashioned cooking, and his final opponent by using what some would call a nasty trick: getting the judges full and satisfied before trying Ko’s dish. Though Ko was clearly more deserving (by more than just his food,) it was Jan who won. Three contestants go to the final round: Jan, Kiriko, and a girl named Celine Yang (who calls herself Jan’s fan and agrees with his methods.)

My thoughts:

I’ve yet to feel like I need to put this manga down for good. The nasty characters actually give some nice color to the story, and the plot with its interesting recipes still carries me on. So far I can say that I like it, but I have yet to really get into it. I will continue in this venture and share my thoughts with you.

Things to consider

Thirteen and up, this volume does have more cursing than the first two, but it’s pretty mild. There’s a scene where Kiriko sees Jan taking a shower and is shocked by the scars on his back. Thankfully the author (or moderator) placed a convenient black-bar over a certain part. Later we catch a quick glimpse of Kiriko in her undergarments, but nothing comes of it. Still pretty tame for manga standards. There’s also scenes with obnoxious violence . . .  kind of hard to explain, you’d have to read to know what I mean.

Opportunities for discussion:

Pride is a consistent theme in this story, yet we also learn there’s more to the characters than how they seem on the outside. Another good area to focus on is: how far should one go to win? Are there moral boundaries? Or is a win a win? Share these thoughts with your teens and ask them if there’s anything in their lives that this can relate to.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Iron Wok Jan (Volume 1)
2) Iron Wok Jan (Volume 2)


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.

Iron Wok JanI’m going out on a limb here; even though many of the character’s abilities are fantastical, this one really can’t be considered speculative fiction. However, I thought it worth mentioning as I do have a section for manga after all–and manga has become very popular among youth today.
Let me start by saying that this is one that I’ve constantly seen on the library shelf. Every time I looked at it I had a hard time making a decision. It’s a manga about . . . cooking?
Not being much of a cook myself, this idea did not really appeal to me. Even if I did love to cook, I mean, it’s a manga about . . . cooking . . . okay, so I said that already, but really, the idea seemed so absurd to me that of course I had to give it a shot.
Story overview:

Sixteen-year-old Jan shows up at the number 1 Chinese food restaurant in Tokyo Japan. His aggressive demeanor instantly rubs everyone the wrong way, however his talent and skills soon prove him a worthy Chef.
Jan’s goal? To become the #1 best Chinese food Chef. How does he go about attempting this? By insulting, challenging, and antagonizing everyone in his path. One being a girl named Kiriko, who is another trainee at the restaurant. She insists that cooking isn’t about “competition” but “heart”.
A glimpse into the past shows Jan’s tyrant of a grandfather, which gives us an idea as to why Jan acts the way he does.
My thoughts:

I have to say that my mind is not totally made up yet about this one. There was a lot more to the plot and story than I had imagined, and a lot more action than I would have guessed, but I think I need to read a few more before I’m convinced either way (I have the next two volumes at home as we speak). I admit that it’s nice to see a manga that’s not about kung-fu, robots, girls in skimpy school uniforms, or men waiving around big swords. One thing’s for sure: this one’s unique and very original, and its easy to get caught up in the melodrama and bizarre recipes.
Things to consider:

The back of the book says thirteen and up, so I’ll stick with that. This seems to be targeting boys, but it’s worth noting that I don’t think it would offend girls at all. Nothing sexual, no extreme violence (save for a suicide scene), and the language is tame.
Opportunities for discussion:

This is a good time to challenge your children as to what their motives are in life. Do they do things based on heart? Pride? Competition? Motives are an important topic, and this manga does a great job at addressing that.