From “bon appétit” to “banzai”!

Banzai BanquetsThrowing a party can be really, really stressful.  There’s so much to worry about—what to serve, how long it will take to prepare, how to make sure everything is ready at the same time, how to plate and present the food, and how to set the table in fun, imaginative ways that are attractive and fit the occasion. But in Banzai Banquets, chef and cooking instructor Riko Yamawaki takes the anxiety out of entertaining with an abundance of tips and recipes for dishes that are sure to please guests and hosts alike.

Yamawaki’s recipes are based on classics but she gives them a Japanese twist, with ingredients that are easy to find and instructions that are simple to follow. The beautiful color photos show you what every completed dish will look like, and will also give you ideas for using just the right bowl or platter to make the food as appealing to the eye as possible.

In the first section of the book, called “Cute! Visually Surprising Menu Items,” she suggests making things pop with unexpected combinations of ingredients (watermelon with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, celery, and jicama; camembert cheese with dried fruits and a splash of rum; scallops and pineapple). Part 2 introduces recipes that are the basis for other creations, like Vinegared Dried Fruits, Tofu Walnut Dressing, and a “Grown-up” Tomato Sauce. Next comes a selection of mouth-watering entrées such as Bream in Clam Sauce, Manhattan-Style Pork (with coffee as its secret ingredient), and Beef Shank Stewed in Berry Sauce. Part 4 offers “upgraded” side dishes, while Part  5 shows you how to be creative with noodles and rice. And with the fabulous sweets in Part 6 (Ice Cream di Balsamica, Dried Sweet Potato Parfait, Basil Granita), there’s always room for dessert!

Yamawaki concludes with a section on table decoration; and then gives complete, detailed plans for parties that are guaranteed to wow. Whether it’s an Early-Summer Lunch for your girlfriends or a Casual  Yet Luxurious Christmas feast (and it’s O.K. NOT to use traditional reds and greens!), here are the menus, recipes, timing suggestions, and focus tips that will have you and your guests shouting, “Banzai! Let’s eat!”

School Is Out

GTO 14 Days in Shonan vol.9This week we sadly have to say good-bye to another old friend. The final volume of GTO: 14 Days in Shonan is now on sale, and as you can see from the cover the GTO legend has now finally come to an end. Onizuka thought he was going to go on vacation but ended up changing the lives of many in his home region of Shonan. Throughout the new 9-volume series, faces from the many GTO series – Early Years and original – make cameos and the story comes full-circle with Onizuka making his return to Tokyo at the end.

In this final volume Onizuka has taken his fight to City Hall and in typical GTO fashion, the unorthodox teacher gets the old biker gang to go on a manhunt for the mayor. Will this illicit mayor escape to his fantasy getaway or will Onizuka bring what’s coming to him? And as an added bonus, volume 9 contains a bonus mini-series about twins Riko and Miko, former leaders of the Oedipus Club, who through Onizuka’s teachings have now turned into a violent but righteous vigilante-duo!

It was a pleasure to be able to work on this beloved series. We hope to someday get around to releasing Bad Company in some form. So if you haven’t had a chance to experience the continued tales of Eikichi Onizuka yet, go pick up GTO: 14 Days in Shonan and oh finish up your GTO: The Early Years sets while you can too :)

Gummies without the Gunk

Gummy FunDo you ever wonder what’s really in the food you buy from the store? If you don’t, you should! In packaged gummy candies, for example, you’ll find corn syrup, sugar, dextrose, citric acid, starch, artificial flavors, fractionated coconut oil, carnauba wax, and various artificial colors.

Doesn’t sound so yummy anymore, does it?

Well, the obvious solution is to make things yourself, using ingredients you choose so you know exactly what you’re putting in.

In Gummy Fun, author Hisako Ogita tells you how to create these squishy, jiggly, colorful, and cute treats at home using  what you have on hand – nothing fancy needed! If you want to use hand-pressed fruit and veggie juices go right ahead. Ogita has recipes for gummies made with oranges, lemons, carrots, or cherry tomatoes.  You can also use purées from fruits including strawberries, kiwis, blueberries, melon, and raspberries. How about green or herb tea gummies? Or ginger, shiso, or yuzu? Try adding various fillings such as adzuki beans, goji berries, chestnuts, or dried apricots.

From tools and basic ingredients to working with gelatin and agar and presenting gummies as gifts, Gummy Fun explains everything you need to know to whip up these chewy charmers and serve family and friends snacks that are both delicious and healthy.  And you’ll have as much fun preparing them as eating them.

“Gummies are appealing because their texture is somewhere between the softness of jelly and the firmness of licorice and also because they come in an array of colors, fragrances and shapes. Kids and grown-ups alike love gummies. Being able to make your own gummies expands the horizons of your treat-making abilities. Plus, if you make them yourself you know there are no chemical additives, so you can enjoy them with peace of mind. Doesn’t that make it worth it?”—Hisako Ogita, from the Introduction to Gummy Fun

Burning Flowers

While Vertical is not a stranger to the adaptation game, it is a bit unusual for one of our manga titles to be running as its anime counterpart is broadcasting globally. So with The Flowers of Evil anime adaption just beginning to air, and causing quite the controversy at that, what better time would there be to check out the critically acclaimed manga? Each volume has been more addictively tense than the last and, as the series continually outdoes itself, volume five only strengthens the claim that The Flowers Of Evil is one of the best manga being currently published.

If you thought the previous volumes were shocking to the touch, this one will leave your bones electrified. Shuzo Oshimi weaves a chilling and unforgettable tale about a couple bored youth in a small forgettable town that has left both the fans and the critics screaming. This bold manga continues to completely break societal convention and says it’s okay to reject our society’s contemporary values. Of course, now it’s about figuring out how to top it with an even bigger act of decency. While Nakamura and Kasuga are plotting away, the increasingly vindictive ex-girlfriend Saeki wants to know why Kasuga dumped her, as she sets out to find what exactly the relationship between he and Nakamura. What happens when she begins to uncover exactly what this dynamic duo has been up to may be one of the most shocking scenes to ever be published in a Vertical manga (quite a feat considering what we have published).

Don’t let your ordinary spring go waste! Give into your inner deviant and pick up The Flowers Of Evil volume five today, $#1t-bugs.