“A Different Type Of Princess” – Kitchen Princess (manga) – 7/10 Pencils

Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.  ~Voltaire

Mangaka: Natsume Ando, Miyuki Kobayashi

Genre: Shoujo/Romance/Drama/Comedy/School

Review Status: Complete (10 Volumes/10 Volumes)

Licensed: Yes, this is licensed in the US by Del Ray

Art: Pretty typical shoujo, but it’s not half-bad on the food- everything looks absolutely scrumtious!

Summary: Najika is a great cook and likes to make meals for the people she loves. But something is missing from her life. When she was a child, she met a boy who touched her heart–and now Najika is determined to find him. The only clue she has is a silver spoon that leads her to the prestigious Seika Academy. Attending Seika will be a challenge. Every kid at the school has a special talent, and the girls in Najika’s class think she doesn’t deserve to be there. But Sora and Daichi, two popular brothers who barely speak to each other, recognize Najika’s cooking for what it is–magical. Is either boy Najika’s mysterious prince? (Source: Amazon)

Review: Kitchen Princess plays itself off as a shoujo that attempts to break ut of the mold a number of times. I have to say, overall I was pretty impressed with how it didn’t follow the traditional formula in a number of places, from the girl coming into the story as a fantastic cook already. The only thing she needs to work on is refining her skills a bit- a far cry from most heroines being absolute klutzes and needing to work hard to get a foot in the door for what they want to do! Entering the academy, Najika discovers two bys that could be her Flan Prince, and so the romance begins, and immediately begins to deviate from the predictable formula of her falling in love with the bad boy of the two. Yes, I had it called from the beginning, and I was heartily surprised at how the plot drove Najika to Sora, the sweet, responsible brother that takes charge of things and supports her in everything she does.

And boy, does she have her work cut out for her; Everyone has it in to shut her down and kick her out for not playing by the rules and winning the prestigous competitions they expected her to! Even if she’s blessed with perfect taste, able to tell everything exactly about what went into a dish and how it was cooked, that doesn’t mean that she’s going to have it easy when dealing wtih the exacting standards of judges or the director of the school when he sees her disappointing results and her rebellion against school rules. He’s willing to use everything at his disposal to get her to step down, usually by petty and semi-cartoon-villanous means. Hiring another student to take her down is an interesting idea, even if it backfires completely. It was the threat he makes towards her home and the people in it that caught my attention – extortion of the worst means, and more serious than most threats.

Most of this comes about from one of the most unexpected plot twists I’ve seen in a shoujo *ever*. No, seriously, it was both the highlight of the manga and the most depressing point of it. I was astounded and touched by the thought that went into this and the aftereffects it had on the characters. At the same time, it was the point where the mangaka decided it had strayed too far from the shoujo mold and pounded it back with a disappointing ferocity. The good news is that while the romance was now between two charactrers who matured quite a bit from their previous selves, it still wasn’t unexpected; that silly spoon really was overused for all of this, and it was refreshing when I thought at some point it wouldn’t matter all that much.

But as they try to figure out their feelings for each other in the wake of their loss, Najika faces pressing issues on the homefront, and with more competitions coming up, isn’t up to par. While she doesn’t end up at the competition of her dreams by the end of the series (another thing that was a nice change, having to still work hard for her goals), she still has people supporting her and a path to go down that’s pretty clear of obstacles. I have to say, it was a cherry on top to have it end in a way that made it stick out in my mind from some other series I’ve read.

On a personal note to the series, I really adored some of the recipes that came up in here – the back pages are filled with ones that were featured in the series! I was mightily impressed with the ones they chose to include, and a number were very delicious. A lot of the sentiments expressed about it being lovely and brightening a day echoed how I felt about them. Yum!

Overall, while it’s not the most original shoujo out there, it still managed to surprise me a number of times, and was still fun to read.

Recommended: 10+. There is a death scene, where one boy is hit by a car. you see some blood and his body lying on the ground. One of the girls suffers from an eating disorder (recovers).  A boy sees Najiuka’s panties when she is climbing a tree. Najika’s dress rips, but she’s covered by someone’s coat. There are two or three kisses.

Other Series You Might Enjoy:

Mixed Vegetables (manga)

Bambino (manga)

Yakitatte!! Japan (anime)

Yumeiro Pâtissière (anime)

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kokoro Hane
    May 26, 2012 @ 00:00:26

    My friend lended me a couple volumes of this series once (8 and 9) and I loved it, even though that was too far in. I also liked the extras, where you can learn to make some of the stuff in the story. I’ve been meaning to finish it! (I’d have to say my favorite part in one of the volumes is when little Najika asked her parents “why does your food taste so good?” and their answer “it’s because we think of you when we make it!” ahhh….to cook with love, it is true ya know! Reminded me when a couple friends made me some treats for my 18th birthday….it is true you can tell someone was thinking of you when they bake!)

    Reply

    • sweetpea616
      May 26, 2012 @ 15:00:20

      Man. And here I bake because I’m cheap! ^.^” But that was a wonderful scene, and it really brings across the meaning food can have in a family. I think it’s one of those things I rather envy about Japanese culture – they place an importance on food that shows thjey care about what they put into their bodies and why, while we Americans just… eat. It’s not the same thing.

      Reply

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