Jiro Talks of Sushi

Sushi Chef: Sukiyabashi JiroSushi chef (and subject of the 2011 documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”) Jiro Ono is a true original – passionate, obsessive, opinionated, a perfectionist and a brilliant technician. Diners lucky enough to have experienced a meal at his Tokyo restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro know first-hand that he is the Master.

But the rest of us are left wondering, what is it about Jiro that makes him so good?

In SUSHI CHEF: SUKIYABASHI JIRO, Jiro reveals his secrets. The book is the ultimate guide to all things sushi, from a detailed explanation of what fish to use and why, to seasonal ingredients for nigiri, the preparation process, sushi rice, nori maki and tamagoyaki, pickling ginger, grating wasabi, and much, much more.

Interspersed with the main chapters are “Jiro Sushi Talks,” in which the iconoclastic chef informally chats about a wide range of topics. Among his more eye-opening proclamations:

  • Kohada (gizzard shad) is the Yokuzuna (sumo wrestling champ) of nigiri. My throat    squeaks when I eat it. (p. 43)
  • It’s out of pride as a sushi craftsman that I disregard profit and make shinko (young    gizzard shad) nigiri. (p. 47)
  • The reason Edomae-style ebi (shrimp) is by far the best is that it’s superior in criteria    such as sweetness, aroma, and the color after boiling. This is probably because there’s plenty of food for them. The seawater needs to be somewhat dirty for the kuruma ebi’s food to grow. If the water is clean, ebi won’t live there, so Tokyo Bay became its perfect habitat. (p. 73)
  • Nori is such an important ingredient that it can affect the impression of a sushi    restaurant overall. (p. 208)
  • I’m often told that my customers don’t get thirsty after eating our nigiri. (p. 246)
  • Good sushi restaurants discipline customers. (p. 261)

When it was published in Japanese in 1997, SUSHI CHEF shocked the industry and aficionados alike with its revelations of insider information and startling opinions. Now, with Vertical’s new version, English-speaking sushi lovers everywhere will come to appreciate Jiro’s vision, and to understand why a seat at the counter of Sukiyabashi Jiro is, arguably, the most coveted in Japan.

Maybe Manga, Maybe Sushi

M is for Monsters

Some months are full of humor and some may overflow with action, but this month a curious coincidence occurred where we are scheduled to launch two new titles with supernatural themes.  One comes in the form of a sci-fi drama, the other in a shonen action-fantasy, but both are new in Japan and causing a stir within that industry.

Along with those two debuts are a couple of beloved on-going works, and a great selection of Japanese prose to make this month on of the more memorable ones we have had in ages.

So May is panning out of be a monster! A month full of releases; literally our biggest month ever!


New Releases

-Vampires are commonplace in media these days. TV, movies, comics and even prose are full of supernatural tales of the immortal bloodsuckers. Ryo Hanada’s Devils’ Line plays with these tropes but takes it to a new level.

Tsukasa like many young people these days has heard rumors of a series of vampire murders that have occurred around Japan. But most people are skeptical, believing the murders have been sensationalized by the media for ratings.

One day, on her way home, she finds herself in the midst of a vampire and a dhampir vampire hunter. Soon she will find herself under said dhampir’s protection and eventually his embrace, as he promises to cross an invisible line to watch over her in a world that is much more dangerous than previously imagined. Anzai, the dhampir, is part of a vampire related crime unit that monitors and hunts rogue vamps. And as they both will discover there are humans which hunt the hunters, as they want a world completely rid of vampires, instead!

-The Civil War is the backdrop to MAYBE’s To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts but it is a new take on what a pivotal time in history. In this world, the North was vastly outnumbered, so they turned to the dark arts to create monstrous super-soldiers to give them an edge. As the war has ended, the monsters remain, and many of them have turned against humanity and it is up to Beast Hunters to eliminate this new threat.

Schaal is searching for a specific beast hunter. The hunter who took down her father. And when she finds him, she soon comes to realize that there is much more to the Sacred Beasts than what she believed. There is some humanity to them, but many of them are looking for ways to end their suffering.

Nichijou is now a New York Times Best Seller and why wouldn’t it be with mad hijinks like those seen in volume two.

Poor Yuuko! On a routine morning walk to school she greets her classmates with a pun. Unfortunately it falls flat. So in typical Yuuko form she tries another. And another! And even another! None of them work! No one laughs! Her gags are dead. She has zero chemistry… Some days nothing is punny or funny. And poor Nano finds out what her big toe does. It’s a USB rocket toe… Some days it doesn’t pay to be a robot.

In What Did You Eat Yesterday 10, it is summer time and that means light easy to eat and prepare dishes for Shiro to make. His office has an excess of somen noodles, so the frugal gourmand has an opportunity to make cold noodles for himself and his friends! But it has been a while since he has gone out to cook for others and he is about to experience many life changes. Families grow around Shiro, while his remains the same. But as he will soon find out, over some watermelon, family is not only about blood relations. So his family is also about to grow!

Determination in the vein of Detective Columbo is at the core of Gaku Yakumaru’s A Cop’s Eyes. A former juvenile reformatory center staffer changes careers in his middle age to become a police detective. This gentle man has now have to dive head first in the cold violent underbelly of Japan’s criminal world. But through the seven shorts of this collection, Detective Natsume’s ability to understand the human condition will lead him to uncover a number of riddles and save the lives of many people, including one young man he met in juvie many years ago.

Shinzo Satomi’s Sushi Chef: Sukiyabashi Jiro is one of the most unique reads we have published in ages. On the surface it is a looks like a cookbook. But upon closer inspection it is a fascinating deconstruction of a restaurant that has inspired a food revolution and is at the core of the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Satomi goes into great detail about the ingredients used by Jiro. How the are sources and how they are eventually prepared are looked at with great scrutiny to reveal the attention and precision that Jiro has put into his seasonal menus.

This is a book for the true foodies in your life, and also their chefs. So if you cannot go to Jiro, why not read about what has made his sushi must eats for Barack Obama and gourmands from across the globe.

In the second Seraph of the End, Guren finds himself in a much better social position amongst his peers. He’s now playing shogi and interacting with those who were once against him. But they have a common interest and that is what is also causing them a lot of trouble these days. Guren is going to have to confront the Thousand Nights, but something or someone is getting in his way.


Audiobook Options

This month Vertical will debut their new line of audiobooks. Focusing initially on popular cross media brands such as MONOGATARI and Attack on Titan, Vertical Audio is a revolutionary way to experience Japanese prose in English.

Unique to most audiobooks, Vertical’s releases feature music and sound effects to enhance the reading, and create a feel that is somewhat similar to an anime experience.

Vertical Audio releases will be available for download from a wide range of sources including Audible, iTunes, Nook, Audiobooks.com, Overdrive, and others.

  • KIZUMONOGATARI: Wound Tale (May 25, 2016) is by NISIOISIN, arguably Japan’s best-selling novelist, and is the first volume in the legendary MONOGATARI series to be translated into English.
  • Attack on Titan: The Harsh Mistress of the City Parts 1 & 2 (June 1, 2016) is a two-part stand-alone saga set in the days after the Wall has been breached and the marauding Titans are terrorizing humanity. The “Attack on Titan” mega-franchise is one of today’s most successful pop-culture phenomena.

Note prices may vary from vendor to vendor.


New Acquisition

Last weekend at Chicago’s Anime Central, Vertical announced the acquisition of their newest manga license – Flying Witch.

Chihiro Ishizuka’s slice of life comedy set in Akita, Japan, covers the day to day life of a young aspiring witch and her young relatives.

Kodansha Ltd. in Japan has currently released four volumes of this series in their monthly Bessatsu Shonen Magazine anthology. Meanwhile Crunchyroll has been streaming the Flying Witch anime produced by J.C. Staff.

Vertical will launch this thoughtful and charming comedy in 2017. Stay tuned to the Vertical newsletter for more information and preorder links.


2016 Convention Schedule

Convention season is here! And the Vertical tour is already in full swing! We’ll be criss-crossing the country throughout the summer selling our wares and promoting our brand of Japanese print media.

To help inform our readers and fans out there, we wanted to share our tentative convention schedule with you all.

We’ll be hosting panels and events at most of these shows. And as usual, you can purchase goods and meet staff at the Vertical booth.

We look forward to seeing many of you throughout the year!


Future Releases:

  • Attack on Titan: Lost Girls (debuts June 2016)
  • Nocturne of Remembrance (debuts July 2016)
  • Immortal Hounds (debuts July 2016)

Titan conflicts and immortal consequences are at the forefront of our mid-year releases. So preorder a copy or two and prepare yourself for more high quality Vertical reads to keep you entertained over your long, warm summer days.

Image Copyrights – All Rights Reserved
Devils’ Line © 2016 Ryo Hanada; To the Abandonded Sacred Beasts © 2016 MAYBE; nichijou © Keiichi Arawi 2007; What Did You Eat Yesterday? © 2016 Fumi Yoshinaga; A Cop’s Eyes © 2012 Gaku Yakumaru; Sushi Chef © 1997 NAITO Shizue; Seraph of the End © 2016 Takaya Kagami; Flying Witch © Chihiro Ishizuka 2012; KIZUMONOGATARI © 2008 NISIOISIN

Summer of Vertical

It’s summer time and as is often the case this season already has a been an ambitious one for Vertical, Inc. With a number of new releases, a range of new license announcements, and a now completed summer con tour over, there were plenty of topics to highlight for readers throughout the course of the summer.

We’ll get to some of that news a little later. But, before we do, we wanted to remind you of our August 2015 releases:

August 2015 ReleaseA Fantastic August
This August, Vertical is feeling fantastic! Sure, with titles like those found in our catalog we, and our readers, should always be feeling great, but this month we have three high quality fantasy and sci-fi tales that are particularly excellent!

Leading off the month is the sixth volume of Ryu Mizunagi’s hit rom-com Witchcraft Works. Ayaka’s battle with Weekend continues and it is quickly moving to its climax. But without a source of power for her magic will she be able to finally defeat this rogue bomb-wielding witch?

Meanwhile Kei Nagai and a handful of domestic demi-human are preparing to take on some truly rogue forces in volume 6 of Gamon Sakurai’s AJIN. But before they embark on their mission, readers are treated to a brief flashback involving the lone woman amongst the demi-human corps. Sakurai takes readers back to Izumi’s days as a high school teen when she first came to terms with her demi-human side. Her past is marked with tragedy. So it comes as no surprise to see her want to change others lives for the better. Especially those she feels she can trust.

When it came to trust, those within the fortress known as Wall Maria believed they were somewhat safe from Titan attacks. However in Ryo Kawakami’s Attack on Titan: The Harsh Mistress of the City the walls have been breached and now titans roam what remains of the interior. A young trooper named Rita was on the frontlines, and after closing off gates in the interior, she will have to find a way to get inside Wall Rose to safety.

Vertical Inc. NewsletterSummer Acquisitions
This summer was one of our biggest and busiest yet! With a number of new series and one-shots covering the wide-range of content that Vertical is known for, we are sure there will be something for almost every reader to dive into next year.
Here’s what we have announced over the summer:

  • Nichijou, by Keiichi Arawi (March 2016)
  • Mysterious Girlfriend X by Riichi Ueshiba (March 2016)
  • Sukibayashi Jiro by Shinzo Satomi (March 2016)
  • FukuFuku: Kitten Tales by Konami Kanata (April 2016)
  • A Cop’s Eyes by Gaku Yakumaru (April 2016)
  • The Gods Lie by Kaori Ozaki (April 2016)
  • Devilsline by Ryo Hanada (May 2016)
KizuMonogatari

KizuMonogatari (cover not final)

A Fall to Get Up For
Fall is around the corner and with it some big new debuts. With titles like Ninja Slayer, Tokyo ESP, Seraph of the End on the horizon, an already stacked line-up should be greatly enhanced. And we’ll look at the other books a little closer in the coming months. Because this month we’ll focus our spotlight on a work that deserves plenty of attention from readers: NISIOISIN’s KizuMonogatari.

Within the Monogatari series, Kizu (as it is known in some circles) is considered to be the series prequel, as it details the life of Monogatari’s lead Koyomi Araragi before what occurs in the two BakeMonogatari books. Something of an occult-mystery series, NISIOISIN weaves modern themes found in popular anime and manga, while including the supernatural elements, moments of horror, and high-stakes action. NISIOISIN’s legendary wordplay is also in full-effect in this series, which only adds character to what may already be the most ambitious Japanese prose release of the year.

With an established anime adaption for most of the Monogatari series already available from ANIPLEX the brand was already at the top of most young readers’ wish lists. And now with KizuMonogatari‘s debut just around the corner, we feel this release should fulfill a wish long held by western fans by finally completing and properly realizing NISIOISIN’s “tale” in English.

Vertical Convention Tour 2015
It’s summer so the Vertical tour bus is still making stops across the country. We’ve got three more destinations before retiring the bus for the year. And we hope to see you at some of these events.

And if you happen to pass by one of our panels, stick around for special giveaways featuring goodies from some of our hit titles.

Once again, whether in person at an event, or by following us here and on our various social media platforms, this summer Vertical has the content to keep you cool and up to date with what is the best in Japanese content today.

Image Copyrights – All Rights Reserved
Witchcraft Works © 2015 Ryu Mizunagi; Attack on Titan: The Harsh Mistress of the City © 2015 Hajime Iseyama and Ryo Kawakami; AJIN: Demi-human © 2015 Gamon Sakurai; Devilsline © Ryo Hanada; Mysterious Girlfriend X © Riichi Ueshiba; The Gods Lie © Kaori Ozaki; KizuMonogatari © NISIOISIN / Kodansha

Harried Husband

What Did You Eat Yesterday?Shiro Kakei is a lawyer by day and thrifty househusband by night. His passion is to cook, and furthermore, to do so with a cost conscious attitude that suits his lifestyle. But Shiro has faces numerous pressures that exhaust him outside of the law firm. His constant concern over his sexuality and how it may be perceived in society weighs on him much more than any case or consultation.

In this fifth volume of What Did You Eat, Shiro’s cover is repeatedly blown. While his decision to stay partially in the closet is something that weighs heavy on him, those pressures are not mutually shared by his friends and acquaintances. First it is the weekend cooking party with his friends that turns into an afternoon with the local tennis club. Then comes the trip to the jewelers with Kenji to get their rings. And then there was that awkward time with his parents. If only work at the law firm wasn’t equally stressful, but ultimately all of this frustration ends up leading him to the kitchen where he can relax.

Nothing can be more relaxing than a good meal and some conversation. And with every new chapter, Fumi Yoshinaga slowly peels back the layers of this unique manga couple. Revealing some insights about Japan’s Gay culture and sharing some hearty Japanese cooking recipes in the process.

Two For the Foodies

Effortless BentoA good month for foodies! What Did You Eat is obviously a must for manga readers who also appreciate a well drawn meal. But for those who wish to taste modern Japanese meals, Effortless Bento is the bento box bible! Compiling 300 recipes to fill your bento boxes this book from the editors of Shufunotomo Publishing has every must have bento dish and side imaginable!

Want a soup bento? It’s got it.

Want a veggie focused bento? There are dozens of vegetarian recipes in here.

Looking for something sweet to pack in your box? Yup. Effortless Bento has it.

Our biggest cookbook yet is gonna be that next must buy for everyone who has ever wondered…What should I eat tomorrow?

What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 2And for foodies who enjoy a bit of drama with their meals, the award-winning Fumi Yoshinaga returns this month with a fresh release of What Did You Eat Yesterday? In this latest volume, readers are treated to a sampling of Shiro and Kenji’s first meeting. The second course also focuses on Shiro’s past, before Kenji moved in with him. And for a main Ms. Yoshinaga has prepared a dramatic and unexpected Kakei family reunion full the usual juicy tension one would expect from a Yoshinaga work.

This month indulge yourself in Vertical and savour some of the best print media Japan has to offer.

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.

Holiday entertaining with sushi style!

Sushi SimplicityIn Sushi Simplicity, Miyuki Matsuo goes beyond the ordinary sushi roll and proves that anyone can make these gorgeous pieces of food art that taste as good as they look. By mastering a few techniques, beginners and experienced chefs alike can create nearly 80 eye-popping, mouth-watering morsels that can easily be adapted into festive, holiday-party treats.

Start with temari or “ball sushi.” Matsuo explains the fundamentals of forming rice into these cute spheres, and then suggests a wide range of toppings. Decorate the snowy white balls with cucumber and tobiko (flying fish roe), bright red tuna with a sprig of dill, or goya (bitter melon) and ikura (salted salmon roe) and they’ll look like colorful tree ornaments, especially when you serve them on a Christmas-tree platter.

Try making pressed sushi using cookie cutters shaped like stars, bells, snowmen, and trees—then top with ingredients in seasonal colors: diced red pepper, mentaiko (spicy cod roe), pickled red radish, green and black olives, edamame, parsley, snap peas, kinome (pepper leaf) or mint.

To really impress your guests, arrange small rice balls in a circle on a plate. Adorn them with cherry tomatoes, sliced white cheese, fresh dill, or whatever combination strikes your fancy—and you’ve got Wreath Sushi. If it weren’t so tempting to eat, you’d want to hang it on your front door!

In the “Cup Sushi” section, you’ll learn how to use small bowls, stemmed glasses, plastic cups, and even halved hardboiled eggs and cherry tomatoes as serving dishes. Present your sushi creations in elegant champagne glasses and toast the New Year with unique flair.

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!”

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