Pop Culture Gadabout
Monday, January 14, 2008
      ( 1/14/2008 10:36:00 AM ) Bill S.  

COOKING IS ALL ABOUT COMPLETENESS. Over the holidays, I received a ten-dollar gift card from Border's - and since there isn't a Border's in my neck of AZ, I wound up using it online. Picked up a copy of Volume 17 of Iron Wok Jan!, a manga series that I've enjoyed reading but got stalled on following when the series shifted publishers and the comic shoppe I was frequenting missed two volumes. Purchased copies of volumes 16, 18-24 here and there, but held off reading 18-on until I could get a copy of the missing 17th volume.

So over the past two weeks, I've been regularly immersing myself in the Second Annual Chinese Cooking Competition, watching our anti-hero knock off competitors to arrive at the big showdown with would-be Chinese cooking kingpin Rensei Koh. Today I read in Adam Stephanides' blog (link courtesy of Journalista!) that the series has concluded with its most recent entry, Volume 27.

Per Adam, the series concludes with no big character epiphanies, though from the way the final competition has been proceeding, I was wondering if writer/artist Shinji Saijyo wasn't building toward some small realization on Jan's part. When we see in a moment between matches that competitor Koh has the same types of scars on his back that title lead Jan possesses - vestiges of both characters' brutal tutelage in Chinese cooking - I was more than half expecting Saijyo to do something, character-wise, with this. From what Adam states, though, we don't even get a final showdown between Jan and his unbelievably-breasted rival Kiriko ("Cooking is all about heart!") Gobancho. That's disappointing, since the series seemed to be leading in that direction since Volume One. But it won't stop me from finishing out this series.

Today, I'm in the middle of Volume 21, with six more to go, I guess. Though some manga followers (Johanna Draper Carlson, for instance) have long abandoned Jan! because of its formulaic nature and dubiously rendered women characters, I've gotta admit I'm gonna miss the little dickhead.
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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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