Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles is a series revolving around Koizumi, a transfer student with a mysterious and cold demeanour that only a hearty bowl of ramen can melt.
The series was created by mangaka Naru Narumi and was given an anime adaptation from 2018 that had a funky soundtrack but wasn’t quite a highlight of that season for me. Said anime was also comprised of 20-minute episodes whereas the manga consists of shorter chapters meaning the anime has additional dialogue and scenes here and there.
This is the first volume brought to us by Dark Horse Comics and contains the first nine chapters which introduce the premise of the manga and also some of the main characters.
The plot for Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles is simple: title character Koizumi is a transfer student and a mysterious loner with a cold exterior that can only be melted by the succulent broth of a fine ramen bowl.
The focus of the story is mainly her exploring new types of ramen and interacting with those around her, usually her classmates with whom she inadvertently ends up eating (whether she wants to or not).
These classmates include Yu, who is eager and enthusiastic to become Koizumi’s friend after encountering her lining up to eat at a popular self-serve ramen shop. Even after getting the cold shoulder, she remains undeterred and it begins a journey to become closer to Koizumi and have a friend to eat ramen with.
We also get introduced to Misa, the oblivious type whose misinterpretation of Koizumi’s love of spicy ramen as sympathy for her recent breakup creates an unlikely pairing. A chapter is also dedicated to Takahashi, the class Chair-Person (though only because no one else took the role), who befriends Noizumi after a rooftop discussion about a blank hand-in for a test, and shares her woes of getting steamed-up glasses when eating ramen (I can relate!)
The story and character development are fairly basic at this stage and it feels like the ramen dishes that Koizumi eats, and the various factoids that accompany them, are the star of the show and indeed the main appeal of the manga.
Koizumi herself is pretty nonplussed about the world around her and focuses her efforts on being a connoisseur of all things ramen and barely gives the time to day to others initially. There is a sense that she slowly bonds with her would-be friends, however, as we get some nice moments like her being nursed and fed by Yu at her apartment after falling ill.
Ms. Koizumi Volume 1 was translated by Ayumi Kato Blystone, an authentic Japanese chef from Portland who provides a sweet little paragraph at the end of the book to explain who they are and how translating the manga taught them more about ramen. Their translation work does a great job explaining the various types of ramen and adds authenticity and expertise.
I think that’s a good way of summarising the appeal of a series like Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles. It’s a story about friends enjoying ramen with some comedy based around Koizumi’s pseudo-kuudere personality and how she influences those around her to share a passion in ramen and its goodness.
So far the simple premise has been fun and an easy read though I am curious to see how much the characters will develop and how the story will progress from the established formula.
Overall, if you enjoyed the anime adaptation or have a passion for ramen noodles and fun character interactions then Ms. Koizumi might just satisfy your hunger, though I do wonder how much progression the story’s premise can bring.
2019 Dark Horse Comics LLC