In Shojo Beat Magazine

I was interviewed recently for Shojo Beat Magazine, an English magazine published in the U.S. dedicated to shojo manga (manga for girls), and the results of whatever I said are in the most recent issue. Unfortunately the articles isn't online, so I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but the whole issue is dedicated to Japanese food and manga - sounds like fun!

Update: Here is the link to the article (an excerpt I think). (Thanks heatherbug!)

Incidentally, I am periodically asked 1. if I read manga, and 2. what manga I like. The answers are 1. yes, sometimes, and 2. I'm a bit of a classicist (or you could say, jidai okure or 'behind the times' old fogie). I am not fond of most recent manga really, though if I were pushed to name some I did like I guess Nodame Cantabile is pretty good - the idea of a whole manga series based on a love of classical music is just awesome. It does bug me a bit that the heroine is some sort of idiot savant, who is frequently (and willingly?) thrown and bashed about to get sense into her! Karekano (or kare to kanojo no jijou) went from awesome and funny to more serious then WTF to a sort-of-satisfying ending (I have the whole manga series).

My favorite manga are from a select group of authors who are considered to be masters of the shojo manga genre. No. 1 by far for me is Moto Hagio (萩尾望都), who writes everything from fantasy/SF to extremely gritty drama to sweet romances. No. 2 is Yumiko Ohshima (大島弓子), who writes almost ethereal, delicate manga with a bite. (Many of her most popular works feature cats.) No. 3 is probably Ryoko Yamagishi (山岸涼子; her forté is ballet drama manga, but she's also written historical dramas and more. All three of these authors (all women) made their debuts in the late 1960s to early 1970s, and are still turning out top notch manga. If you want to know more about them, American manga scholar Matt Thorn has written extensively about them, especially Moto Hagio, with whom he conducted an extensive interview.

Early on in her career, Moto Hagio wrote a sort of novella-length manga called "Cake Cake Cake" (ケーキ ケーキ ケーキ). It was about a girl who had no special talents to speak of, not even cooking, but loved sweets and cakes more than anything in the world, and could turn out terrific pancakes. Her love of cakes leads her to Paris, where she becomes the apprentice of a downtrodden patissier. I read this manga when I was about 10, and while it's not the best work by the author by any measure, it's one of my favorites because it's so full of life. I think it even started me on the road to somehow end up living in Europe as an adult!

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I actually was referring to that issue earlier today! Sadly it doesn't feature any more recipes than usual (the magazine usually has one or two, which is part of why I buy it regularly) but I liked the 5 Essential Ingredients article.

That's a pretty neat interview! I don't subscribe but I wish I could read it. I'm currently watching Nodome Cantabile and I like it a lot. We're classical musicians in my family so it's fun to see something so entertaining come out of something that is perceived as fusty, but that we love. (I play the oboe so I go nuts every time it is featured on the show... which is a lot!)

I just read the 5 essential ingredients article very interesting. They did provide a link for an expansion on the article plus a Q&A go to

Ah that's great - thanks heatherbug!

I haven't read the article and I'm not a subscriber but I'm prepared to hazzard a guess・・・

  1. Green Tea (the only one shown on the Shoujo site),

  2. next has got to be RiCE,

  3. SOY SAUCE is another certainty,

  4. MISO (80%),

but the 5th is tricky. That you have chosen only 5 essential ingredients is surprising given the extensive, though absolutely necessary list you kindly provided for us previously. It has to be a dashi related ingredient, and given your slightly vegetarian bent, I'll guess 5. is SEAWEED, in its many guises (konbu,nori,wakame...).


Seaweed was one of them. Soy sauce and miso were combined into soy. The fifth one was ginger.

The interviewer asked me specifically to give 5 essential ingredients, so that's what I came up with. Though as you say the longer list is much more comprehensive.

I love Moto Hagio!! Cake Cake Cake is sweet and heady indeed :) the haunting and complex vampire series is one masterpiece i keep going back to reread. current food-theme favourites include Osen by Shota Kikuchi (enjoy how traditional craft and culture are woven into food stories) and Bambino! by Sekiya Tetsuji (sweat and blood journey of italian chef-in-training) My manga choices are limited to those that get translated into chinese AND imported to singapore though..

I'm a fan of the old school manga artists, too :-) I wish they would translate more stuff over here. I've read Moto Hagio's A, A' and They Were 11, and I also like Keiko Takemiya's To Terra (which I guess is technically not shoujo, but still.) I love Kyoko Ariyoshi's SWAN and I alo read Yasuko Aoike's From Eroica with Love. Now I wish they would release Cake Cake Cake over in the states!

Wow some old skool names/titles :) I remember reading To Terra, though I don't think I finished it. I liked Keiko Takemiya, but she really had a big problem portraying girls decently, which is sort of a drawback for a shoujo manga author! (Her girls were often very weak, sugary and/or one-dimensional. Obviously she loved boys a lot better in all ways...) My favorite from Yasuko Aoiki was The Sons of deviant and twisted and funny! They Were 11 (and the sequel) is as good a sci-fi tale as anything published anywhere imho.
I would love to see a big-budget movie adaptation of it...or a very good anime version.