Juvenile Delinquent Manga Asks If Cooking Can Be Path to Top of School Gang
posted on by Eric Stimson
Hiromasa Okujima has made a career out of drawing "Yankee" manga, or manga about tough guys and gangsters in school settings. He made his debut with Shout! in 2007, and his manga Akira No.2 was made into a live-action film in 2014. Apparently the standard violence-filled narrative is getting old for him, though, because his latest work, Itadaki! Nariagari Meshi ("Receive! Rising to the Top [Through] Food"), asks if a tough guy can rise to the head of a school gang through his cooking prowess instead.
Kenny is a tough guy and can hold his own in a fight for sure. He dreams of being top dog at his rowdy school, Ōmori, but the current leader, Meriken, stands in his way — and with his brass knuckles ("Meriken sacks"), beating him won't be easy.
After another humiliating defeat, Kenny must watch Meriken raid his box lunch, because he's hungry and thinks it smells good.
To Meriken's gang's surprise, Kenny reveals that he makes his lunches himself, because he likes to cook. To Meriken's delight, the lunch is superb. The potato balls taste like being punched in the face by a giant potato (high praise).
Kenny is later assaulted by an old-school Yankee, Chabo, who gets concerned when he hears that Kenny has weapons in his bag. The "weapons" turn out to be nothing but rice balls (though at first he assumes they're bombs).
When Gussan, another tough, tries one, he immediately recalls being congratulated by his mom as a kid and bursts into tears. This is significant — he hasn't spoken in years!
Can Kenny compensate for his lack of fighting prowess by winning over his schoolmates through their stomachs?
Tetsuya Kakihara (Simon in Gurren Lagann, Natsu in Fairy Tail, Jinpachi in Yowamushi Pedal) voices Kenny in this commercial for the manga, which aired during Alice & Zoroku this week. Itadaki! Nariagari Meshi has been running since January 2016 in Monthly Comic Ryū; its third volume will be published on April 13. Food manga are an emerging trend, although they have always been popular to some extent.