When it comes to manga revolving around food there is a huge variation in titles, from those focused on cooking battles like Food Wars!, to those covering what fantastical creatures would taste like such as Delicious in Dungeon and Drifting Dragon’s. Today I’m here to check out the first volume of Beauty and the Feast, which sees the protagonist using her tasty meals to keep her neighbour well fed!
The story follows 28-year-old Shuko Yakumo who, after the loss of her husband, has been drifting aimlessly through life. One day, after repeatedly making too much rice for her meals, Yakumo decides to invite high school boy Shohei over for dinner.
Shohei has been living on his own since he started high school and living off convenience store meals, so he’s delighted to be treated to a home-cooked meal. He also plays baseball, which leaves him with quite the appetite!
Seeing how much Shohei enjoys her cooking leads Yakumo to invite him over the next day too and then every day thereafter. She knows the relationship between her and a boy in high school would be frowned upon but, considering how much more fun her days are now, Yakumo has no intention of giving them up anytime soon.
This first volume of Beauty and the Feast is quite repetitive. In each chapter, Shohei comes over and Yakumo hopes today will be the day he tells her that her cooking is delicious. Beyond that, we get to see some of Yakumo’s daily life, where she plans out the meal she’s going to make and reminisces about the time spent making food for her husband.
We do get one chapter from Shohei’s perspective too, which includes meeting some of his school friends, but there isn’t enough content here to get a full grasp of his daily life yet. The most notable thing is that there is a childhood friend of his who finds out about Yakumo and decides she must be her rival for Shohei’s love, but again we don’t quite see enough of her for me to determine if I like her as a character or not. At least it’s sowing some interesting seeds for the next volume of the series!
One thing readers should be aware of is the fact there appears to be romance blossoming between Shohei and Yakumo, so if you’re not a fan of age-gap romances then this is one to give a miss. Since neither side is acting on their feelings yet, I’m hoping it might swerve this plot development and get Shohei together with his childhood friend, but it’s certainly too early to say in which direction it will ultimately go.
The mangaka behind this series is Satomi U, who has one other series to their name in Japanese (although it is on hiatus). On the whole, the artwork is clean and detailed but not too busy. While the character designs are quite realistic on the cover, inside they’re drawn more comically. Most importantly, all of the food featured in the manga looks delicious, so it’s easy for us to understand why Shohei is so eager to come over each evening! It’s also worth noting that there are some great facial expressions in this volume too, which help you grow attached to the cast and their sweet personalities.
While Beauty and the Feast is off to a relatively slow start, it’s an entertaining enough read and that’s fine. There is some depth to the story and the new characters we’ve met toward the end seem like they’ll be great additions to the cast, so I find myself eager to see how things will develop from here. There is a risk the series will end up being too repetitive from volume to volume, but only time will tell on that front.
Beauty and the Feast Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to Square Enix Manga and has been translated by Sheldon Drzka. The translation reads well with no issues to note. The series is on-going in Japan at 10 volumes (although it is due to end soon), and Volume 2 of the English releases is scheduled for release in September.
Overall, Beauty and the Feast may put some readers off with its romance angle, but beyond that, there is a sweet series here. If you’re looking for a new down-to-earth, slice-of-life series then you need look no further. It’s going to be very interesting to see how this one develops in the future!
A free preview of Beauty and the Feast Volume 1 can be read on the publishers website here.