what did you eat yesterday? (vols. 6-7) by Fumi Yoshinaga, translated by Yoshito Hinton
Our favorite Tokyo lovebirds are having a bit of a tiff as the sixth installment opens – that is, Kenji is sounding off on a crisis of trust as he worries that Mr. Kohinata might want to do more than “b*itch about his lover” with Shiro if they go out à deux. Shiro proves his devotion by cancelling the appointment, but not without a little secret guilt.
The twosome instead join the stalwart Kohinata and fickle Gilbert on other occasions, although always as a foursome. The immature, spoiled Gilbert requires extra patience as he never wastes an opportunity to uplift himself at the cost of belittling others, especially the doting Kohinata. Even picnic bento boxes are an object of competitive attention, as he insists, “Gay bentos have to look good,” cuddly teddy bears, swirls, and stars included. “This is the gay standard!!” he declares, much to Shiro’s surprised chagrin.
And life goes on: Shiro turns 47, Kenji makes an occasional meal, Shiro loses a case, they enjoy an iced drink and discuss being dumper or dumpee (unrelated to themselves, of course), and Kenji keeps trying to get Shiro to don that “commemoration of our love.”
Extended families get increased page-count in volume 7, as Shiro finally introduces Kenji to his parents over New Year’s. He enjoys a toothsome hot pot at his friend Kayoko’s house, and learns the major family news about their newly pregnant daughter who is finally marrying her live-in boyfriend. Kenji’s work family is also growing, with the addition of the boss’s wife to the salon, never mind that the boss’ latest mistress might be a bit too close for comfort. And Shiro’s mother asks his help in dealing with the will of an elderly friend who has recently passed away.
Meanwhile, of course, everyone has to eat … everything, as always, not only looks delectable, but the descriptive panels actually make the recipes seem duplicate-able: sashimi salad, miso-fried squid, tingly pickled cucumber, in volume 6; in volume 7, we’ve got peperoncino-style broccoli and littleneck clams, mapo-style cellophane noodles with cabbage and spinach, chili shrimp with eggs and asparagus, and even a Korean-inspired toothsome treat from our thoughtless pretty-boy’s kitchen – kimchee stew Gilbert style – and wow, does he serve up a demanding helping on how he needs to be loved to his far-too-indulgent-blindly-loving partner!
Thankfully, Shiro and Kenji exemplify the opposites-attract, much more equitably matched, most-of-the-time happy couple. Having peeked into their everyday lives, and witnessed their tempting meals, you’ll definitely find yourself hoping for a seat at their table …
Readers: Young Adult, Adult
Published: 2012 (Japan), and 2015 (United States)