What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Volume 6

What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Volume 6Creator: Fumi Yoshinaga
U.S. publisher: Vertical
ISBN: 9781939130815
Released: January 2015
Original release: 2012

Fumi Yoshinaga’s series What Did You Eat Yesterday? is a manga that I’m very glad is being released in English. Part slice-of-life manga focusing on contemporary gay relationships, work relationships, and friendships, and part food manga, the series holds a tremendous amount of appeal for me. Plus, it’s created by Yoshinaga whose manga as a whole I tend to enjoy. I particularly appreciate the subtle and nuanced depth that many of her characters exhibit, which is certainly true of the characters found in What Did You Eat Yesterday?. The sixth volume of the series was originally released in Japan in 2012 while the English-language edition was published in 2015 by Vertical. Although this particular volume does have some translation issues—some awkward phrasing as well as questionable word choices (such as “pepper balls” instead of “peppercorns”)—generally Vertical’s release of the series has been great.

Although Shiro will soon be turning forty-seven, he still has room to grow and has only recently started to really become comfortable with his sexuality. He and his boyfriend Kenji have been living together for years but its a relationship that he has largely kept private. Shiro’s parents know he’s gay, as do a select handful of close friends, but he hasn’t mentioned it to his colleagues and he’s terrified of being found out by straight strangers. Kenji, on the other hand, is able to be much more relaxed and open about who he is. Happily, Shiro and Kenji have developed a good friendship with another gay couple, Kohinata and Wataru, which has allowed Shiro to become a little less anxiety-ridden in public. He continues to worry about appearances, and he’s still fairly reserved when it comes to outwardly demonstrating his affection, but it has become easier for Shiro to enjoy time spent with Kenji outside of the house, whether it be a major grocery shopping trip or a bento lunch picnic in the park.

What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Volume 6, page 48Although I am a huge fan of food manga in general, and meals and their preparation are certainly a major component of What Did You Eat Yesterday?, what I find most appealing about the series is its characters and their lives. But the manga works best for me when the food and recipes tie directly into the plot and character development instead of being a more tangential element. Some volumes of What Did You Eat Yesterday? bring the characters and food together better than others, but overall the sixth is fairly successful in doing that. High-quality ingredients are given as gifts of thanks, meals are prepared as a way to offer comfort and support, recipes are modified when finances are tight, the qualities of a proper bento are debated, and more. Food is obviously important to the characters in the volume.

What Did You Eat Yesterday? tends to be fairly episodic, each chapter exploring a small part of Shiro and Kenji’s lives and featuring a recipe detailed enough that an adventurous reader or experienced cook could actually attempt to make the dish. However, recurring characters and continuing story threads do help to tie the series together as a cohesive whole. There may not be a grand, overarching plot to What Did You Eat Yesterday?, but there is still character and story development to be found. Each reappearance of an established character adds more depth to them as a person and reveals more about the complexities of their relationships with other people. Each volume of What Did You Eat Yesterday? explores more about Shiro and Kenji as well as about their families, friends, and coworkers. And with the sixth volume specifically, I’m especially happy to see Shiro becoming gradually more confident and accepting of himself.

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