Thursday, February 4, 2010

Kitchen Princess, vol. 4

The story: Najika has an amazing ability -- anything she tastes she can cook from memory. When her parents died when she was younger, she found comfort in the kindness of a boy she named her "flan prince." Now at Seika Academy, she's trying to find her prince while making new friends. Unfortunately, Najika and Daichi have had a fight, and Najika doesn't know why he's upset with her. Why all is eventually forgiven, Najika is quickly distracted by a major discovery. Has she found her flan prince at last?

Reaction: There's something fishy going on here and it has nothing to do with Najika's cooking! For some reason, I don't think the big reveal of the prince is for real. Call me suspicious (and no spoilers please!). Other than that, there's another Akane-related storyline here and I find myself tiring of the character and her many personality defects. Lastly, this volume reveals a major development in our story's love "cube," and I found myself wondering how the romantic plot will resolve itself. As usual I really liked the food here, since it was very dessert focused. Thankfully, all the tasty recipes, as always, are featured at the end of the volume!

Deep thoughts: There's mention in this volume again of the rift between Sora and Daichi. Thus far, there's been no explanation for their estrangement, outside of some vague references to their mother and her death. While Najika's flan prince is the big mystery in this manga, I find myself more compelled by the brothers' relationship. What grudge does Daichi have against Sora and why doesn't Sora feel the same for his younger brother?

Artwork: The art here is really shojo-esque, more so than prior volumes. Think lots of floating flowers, blushing cheeks and toner-filled panels. It's not necessarily bad, but it's more visually distracting than usual. I also noticed some awkward anatomy, which I attribute more than anything to Natsumi Ando's angular style. Otherwise, the food still looks good!

The verdict: If only... I found this volume a little less interesting and tedious, but I was given one cliffhanger of an ending, so I'll be sticking around. Besides, by the next volume, I'll have made it halfway through this series, so I'm not stopping now! Kitchen Princess is available in the U.S. from Del Rey.

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