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3 Things Thursday: Easy People

It’s been one of those days. You know the kind–where everything is stretched just a bit too far, and every time you’ve reached what you thought was the final straw, somehow another straw manages to shove itself in anyway.

On days like this, I crave warmth, food, and what the Nields would describe as “Easy People.” So for today’s 3 Things, I’m going to attempt to translate these concepts into manga. And maybe I’ll feel all better by the time I’m done.

3 Things: Warmth, Food, & “Easy People”

1. Warmth: Fruits Basket | Natsuki Takaya | TOKYOPOP – There are a lot of “warm” manga series out there, especially in the world of shoujo manga, but the first that springs to mind for me is Fruits Basket. Could there be a warmer heroine than Tohru Honda? And could that heroine possibly be more cherished and loved? The only question for me is, on a day like this, do I wish to be Tohru, or do I just want to know her? I think the latter might be just the ticket, but either way, there’s plenty of warmth and love in store.

1.Food: Antique Bakery | Fumi Yoshinaga | Digital Manga Publishing – This series could probably qualify on all three counts, but for now, let’s focus on the food. Though I tend to favor savory treats over sweets, there’s something about cakes and pastries as described by Yoshinaga that never fails to send me craving all the way to the nearest bakery. And reading this series back-to-back with Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy might actually be the most perfect food combination possible.

3. Easy People: Maison Ikkoku| Rumiko Takahashi | Viz Media – This choice was actually the hardest, especially since Really Complicated And Also Very Broken People are by far my favorite types of manga characters. But there’s a special kind of comfort in the characters of Maison Ikkoku. Whatever their personal foibles may be, like a classic TV sitcom, you can count on them to never really change. There’s growth, sure, and some very satisfying moments to be sure, but at their core, these people are simple and predictable, and I mean that in the best way possible.

So, readers, what manga would you turn to for much-needed comfort?

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  1. I think what you say about Maison Ikkoku applies to why I like InuYasha, actually. :)

    • Katherine Dacey says:

      I was thinking the same thing, Michelle! Actually, I think that’s true of Takahashi’s manga in general: they succeed because of the rapport among the protagonists. I always feel like I’m hanging out with the characters when I read Maison Ikkoku or InuYasha, rather than simply reading about them.

      As for warmth and food, my nomination would be Flower of Life. Shota Mizuni is a warm and even character, the perfect foil for the varied personalities in his school’s manga club. The fact that he has such open and caring friendships with other boys endears him to me; Yoshinaga is one of the few manga artists I’ve read who even acknowledges that teenage boys have a strong need for connection, too. And the food in Flower! It isn’t as mouth-watering as the pastries in Antique Bakery, but it does inspire some impassioned conversation. Plus Yoshinaga provides the recipe for a pumpkin cake that appears in the story. Awesomesauce.

      • I thought of Flower of Life constantly as I was writing this, and the only reason it didn’t end up somewhere, is I was afraid to fill the whole thing up with Yoshinaga! :D I could easily, though. Her manga really personifies what I look to for comfort.

    • Ah! Well, that’s not surprising at all, I guess, is it? :)

  2. David Welsh says:

    Oh, I’m going to have to restrain myself from picking one title for all three (Flower of Life), but I’ll struggle through:

    Warmth: I’ll go for another all-time favorite for this one: Saika Kunieda’s Future Lovers, which is about as warm a romance as I can think of in yaoi. The primary relationship is great and satisfying, as are their connections with the people around them, even when the relationships are a little problematic. And it has that lovely, lovely ending.

    Food: I’m not afraid to fill most of this with Yoshinaga, so I’ll go with Ichigenme: The First Class is Civil Law, since cooking for another person as a way to express feelings that might be difficult to say out loud is a lovely side note in the story. Of course, the second volume is almost all sex, which is also fine, but the first volume is enhanced by the cooking.

    Easy people: The title doesn’t suggest ease, but Satosumi Takaguchi’s Shout Out Loud! fits, I think, with a great cast of quirky, interesting folks trying to do their best as their lives change in occasionally sexy ways. This is probably one of the longer BL titles that I’ve read, and Takaguchi really makes the most of it, building all kinds of family relationships in addition to romance.

    And yes, as I said and Kate said above, Flower of Life could go into every one of these slots. It just radiates good nature, even when it’s grumpy.

  3. Hmm, if I were to pick 3, I’d go with:

    Warmth: For the manga that gives me the warm fuzzies, Twin Spica and Hikaru no Go certainly do for me, that achieving your goals thing seems to give me nice warm feelings. I could also go more literal with Firefighter Daigo.

    Food: Also Antique Bakery, or Not Love But Delicious Foods. Can’t think of too many other food manga.

    Easy People: Flower of Life is always a good one, but I’d probably go with GTO. Sure, most of the kids start off as hard nuts to crack, but once Onizuka gets to them, I think they become great yet consistent characters. And Maison Ikkoku is my second favorite series (after Banana Fish) so I can’t argue with that one either.

  4. Haha, I can’t do this! Every book I like is too dark or I read too much into it. I love Maison Ikkoku, but I end up looking at it as a pretty dark series; the painful situations and emotions are so much more grounded in the real world than other books and make a stark contrast with the comedy. I’ll try though…

    Warm: What you said about Fruits Basket I’ll apply to Nausicaa. Despite the dark setting, the series is all about the shards of light that are able to cut through the miasma and present the possibility of building a bright warm future filled with life on the ashes of the old world that was twisted. Seeing Nausicaa, representing that light, flying through the air always grips my heart.

    Food: I don’t like food, so I don’t identify with a story about food being awesome, but it’s fun to watch people take food way too seriously like in Yakitate!! Japan. Azuma’s Solar Hands are hilarious.

    Easy People: I have to pick Animal Academy. I always get depressed when I read it, but despite the complex relationships, most of the characters are really sincere and easy to understand. I get so sad whenever Fukuta’s unhappy, I can really feel it.

    Ok, so maybe my picks are 2/3 a recipe for infinite sadness, but I tried. Do the opposite of this and I’ll do better.

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