“There are two things I like stiff and one of them’s jelly.” – Dame Nellie Melba
When she was growing up, the five-year-old Komomo Ninomiya had just about everything. She was doted on like a princess. She also spent a lot of time bullying Natsu Azumi, the son of the family’s patissier (pastry cook). Komomo would get Natsu to make delicious sweets and then eat them in private, but Natsu would secretly watch and realise that Komomo would cry with joy when she ate them. However, one day Natsu and his father left for France to make confections abroad.
Ten years later, and things have changed dramatically. The Ninomiya family fortune has gone. Komomo has been forced to move out of the large family home she lived in, and now has to make do with rented accommodation. She has also moved from private education to the state sector, and must find a job to support herself. However, she is so completely unemployable that she seems to get fired from every job after just a few hours. Then, while walking past a TV in a shop window, she learns that Natsu, now a fully-trained patissier himself, is back in Japan and about to open a shop.
Komomo meets Natsu just after she’s been fired from her latest job, and Natsu offers Komomo work at his place: Confiserie Meli-Melo. He even gives Komomo accommodation above the shop. The reason why Natsu is offering all this is thus: he wants to make up for the years of bullying Komomo gave him, by bullying her. Not only that, but he wants to be Komomo’s only bully, so if anyone else attacks her, Natsu will come to her defence.
Komomo therefore starts her new job, working, or at least trying to work, alongside Natsu, as well another employee of the shop, fellow patissier Yuri Lacroix, who for most of the time is pleasant. However whenever the subject of food comes up, his attitude changes dramatically, often becoming angry and violent. There is also Komomo’s school life, with a girl named Rise, the school “Queen”, intent on bullying Komomo herself, although Komomo seems oblivious to Rise’s intentions.
While mangaka Maki Minami’s artwork, especially that of Komomo’s rather frilly outfits, does look good, this manga comes across as a bit boring. There is nothing bad about it, it is just a tad dull. Occasionally things do perk up a bit, but these sections tend not to involve the two leads, but the minor characters who enter the story, and then start to cause conflict.
The best bit is the introduction of Rise and her attempts to bully Komomo, which Komomo fails to realise are bullying. For example: Rise steals Komomo’s chair and puts a vase of flowers on Komomo’s desk to get in the way, but Komomo likes the flowers and found her old chair uncomfortable so gets a better one. Even when Rise writes rude graffiti on Komomo’s desk, she just gets a tablecloth and covers the desk up.
However, these sections come up later in this opening volume. The start of the manga is somewhat dull, and you don’t really sympathise with the two leads. Komomo is rather irritating and Natsu wants to bully her. Unless you can develop the characters more, this manga might come across as off-putting, and I’m not sure how many readers will stick with it.