Mangia! Manga!

What Did You Eat YesterdayOver the last decade few new manga artists worldwide have received as much critical acclaim as Fumi Yoshinaga. After making a splash with her josei (women’s comics) baking-themed mystery Antique Bakery, she repeated surprised and thrilled the world with her subtle romances, innovative views on history, and honest take on gender issues. And in a very unique way, she has branched far outside the limited reach of the international manga community as she has received honors from the American comics industry and LGBT circles, as well.

Her latest work may be her most intriguing work yet. Combining her passion of food and her insights towards Tokyo’s gay community, What Did You Eat Yesterday? is a somber, subtly comical, but honest slice-of-life look at what it is like to be a gay couple in modern day Tokyo. Yoshinaga presents a couple with contrasting views on their privacy: one openly out but rejected by his family; while his partner is partly in the closet as his parents awkwardly try to be supportive. Presented without the titillation or graphic sex typically found in comparative works from the boys love genre, Eat at its core is a look at the couple’s struggles and their catharsis expressed over the finely prepared meals they share each and every night.

Packed with thoughtful writing, insightful and timely commentary and a recipe or two with every chapter, Eat is like a wonderfully prepared full-course meal by one of manga’s finest. And this volume will not only whet the appetite for more, but should satisfy the hunger of most manga gourmands desperately looking for some more substantial manga to consume.

Let’s ROLL!

Deco*Cakes!Vertical readers might not know this, given how much manga and Japanese horror we publish, but North America has been going through a dessert revolution as of late. The cake, whether cup or birthday, is making a big-time comeback. Supported partially by cable television shows like Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes America has once again discovered its sweet-tooth.

Well, Japan is no slouch when it comes to confectioneries either. You cannot walk more than a few blocks in a major Japanese city without passing by tea houses and coffee shops with an assortment of cakes and tarts. Dessert shops are all the rage across Tokyo in places like Harajuku, Shibuya and Ikebukuro. And on the internet dessert making has recently been taken to a whole new level mainly by the efforts of one woman – JUNKO.

In her first English language release JUNKO takes on the classic Swiss Roll Cake and gives it a very Japanese treatment. With Deco Cakes she prepares a simple cake recipe and brings it to the modern DIY-age by providing dozens of colorful and inspired designs suited for a variety of events and themes. A graphic designer by trade, JUNKO visual ideas are equal parts modern Japanese J-Pop fun and thoughtful food science. And best of all they are oh so perfect for the sweet-tooths in your life.

Ota-King and Queen

Insufficient DirectionOur latest manga is a bit of an albatross in the world of translated manga. Biographical manga, while not extremely popular in Japan, has a significant place in Japan, but has been a rarity in the United States and beyond. And in the case of Moyoco Anno’s Insufficient Direction this biographical comedy not only covers the famous women’s comic artist but it also peels back the curtain on the life of one of anime’s most well-known directors, her husband Hideaki Anno.

InĀ Insufficient Direction Anno, Moyoco, shares with her readers a touching and hilarious look at the couple’s marriage. Detailing what it is like to be engaged to one of the “top four” otaku of all time, Moyoco reveals a side of Hideaki that has not really been accessed as the director of Neon Genesis Evangelion, His and Her Circumstances and RE: Cutey Honey. In this comic, we do not see the hard working artisan with an obsessive compulsive streak, instead we see a fan of science-fiction, tokusatsu and classic anime. And as readers find out more of Hideaki, more of Moyoco is revealed as well. We see her admit to her knowledge of manga and her love of anime theme songs!

Never before have anime and manga creators been so accessible and approachable! And possibly like few biographical manga ever translated have they been this funny and smart.