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by Rebecca Silverman,

Beauty and the Feast

GN 4-6

Beauty and the Feast GN 4-6

Shuko continues to be Yamato's port in the storm of hunger as she strives to keep his belly full. That means doing her best to figure out what he prefers to eat as well as supporting him emotionally when Koshien looms or he gets locked out of his apartment. Shuko seems to still just see him as the child to her old lady, but Yamato may not see the age gap in the same way, and that's something both of them may need to think about, especially when Rui's older sister Ran makes an appearance and Yamato's mom pops in for a visit!

Beauty and the Feast is translated by Sheldon Drzka and lettered by Eric Erbes.


The old saying goes that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and ecchi manga has taught us that if a teenage boy is in proximity to a buxom adult woman, he will begin to fantasize. Beauty and the Feast doesn't exactly shy away from either of these maxims, but it also is notable for its lighter touch with both of them. These three volumes begin to lean into the idea that something may be brewing between Yamato and Shuko. However, before you start to panic, everything is still very firmly PG as Yamato starts to be slightly more honest with himself. He never comes out and says he has a crush on Shuko; it's just becoming increasingly clear that he does. We can see him trying to take better care of himself when Shuko's not around, and the difference between how he responds to her (and her texts) is worlds away from his reaction to Rui. Of course, he also has obvious feelings about Shuko in a bathing suit, but it's also apparent that most of his response to her is emotional – he appreciates what she does, and he likes her as a person.

For her part, Shuko is also beginning to have some conflicting feelings, although she's largely unaware of them. This becomes evident in volume six when Yamato forgets his apartment key at school and needs to spend the night at her apartment. Yamato is jumpy about the whole thing, while Shuko is largely feigning calm, but that is shattered when she wakes up in the night and notices his masculine form sleeping on the other futon. She at first thinks she's looking at her deceased husband somehow returned from the grave; when she realizes it's Yamato, she still scoots her futon closer to his. She's not making any moves on him, and the beds are still quite far apart. But she's plainly drawn to having someone male in her life again. Even if she can't bring herself to recognize that, she seems to be letting herself develop more than motherly emotions where Yamato is concerned, something his behavior may be encouraging.

Leaving the twelve-year age gap aside, it's worth noting that neither party is ready nor willing to act on their burgeoning feelings. Shuko's rock-bottom self-esteem (twenty-eight is hardly ancient or even “old”) is a significant factor here, but it's also part of the appeal of the story. Shuko and Yamato are two lonely people finding solace in each other's company, and Shuko also has a renewed sense of purpose in cooking for two. Volume six gives us some backstory about how Yamato ended up at his high school, and his struggles seem less wishy-washy (as his mother terms it) and more of a worry that he's standing out in the wrong way. Shuko's calming presence gives him the sort of grounding that he didn't have before, and while we could certainly guess that at least part of her attraction for him is the absence of his mother for most of his life, there's still a lot that she's doing for his emotional stability.

Don't worry though – across these three volumes, the story is still primarily about cooking, eating, and lighthearted fanservice. Shuko's sheltered nature has her assuming that a “night pool” is simply a swimming pool open at night rather than an over-21 (20 in Japan) pick-up venue, and watching her show up with Yamato as a treat is pretty entertaining, even if it does introduce Rui's older sister Ran, who is nearly as obnoxious as her sibling. The sheer quantity that Yamato can consume each night is also fascinating, especially as Shuko does her best to stretch her skills even though he'd be happy to eat breading and sauce over rice; her all-out soba feast is nothing short of astounding, as are the sweet potato dishes. Each chapter revolves around cooking and eating, although the overarching plot of Yamato's baseball career, Rui's obsession with him, and Yamato's sister and mother also get time. But it was food that brought Shuko and Yamato together in the first place, and Satomi U never forgets that.

The major fly in the ointment (assuming you don't mind the romance developments) is still Rui. Yamato's childhood friend is still clearly intended to be funny, but she often misses the mark. From an extra where she sexually molests Yamato while he's sleeping (she pulls up his shirt, straddles him, oils his chest and abs, and takes pictures without his consent) to her unhinged fantasies, she consistently crosses the line. Even a couple of attempts to make her sympathetic fall short. In part, this is because we see that Ran is egging her on and apparently doesn't care that Yamato doesn't feel the same way about her, but she's also just so eager to throw her interests under the bus in service of worshipping Yamato that she comes across as more pathetic than sympathetic. If the goal was to make her Shuko's opposite, it works, but at a cost.

The art for this series does take a little bit of a nosedive regarding consistency. Volumes five and six are very uneven, and the perspective is frequently off, while dishes just sort of look like masses of lines rather than recognizable food. The fanservice is fine, and it's nice to see that Satomi U does draw Shuko's breasts as if they weight them rather than just being balloons. Shuko's long hair is also consistently well-drawn; mostly, it's full body images that feel off.

Beauty and the Feast is still mostly a story about the joys of cooking and eating together. The romance element is starting to come to the fore, but if you're not leery of age-gap romances (or even if you are; it's pretty understated), this is still just a nice story about the ways that hearts and stomachs can bring us together.

Overall : B
Story : B
Art : C

+ Story manages to slip in more romance while still maintaining its food storyline and theme. Shuko and Yamato are charming.
Rui remains an irritant, art perspective is more off than usual.

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Production Info:
Story & Art: Satomi U
Licensed by: Square Enix Manga & Books

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