WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
Kitchen Princess by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi (This covers volumes 1-2)
Type: Cooking, School Life, Shoujo,
Basic Plot: Najika is an orphan that has always dreamed of finding the boy who helped cheer her up after her parents died. Reasoning what school he probably went to, she attends it. Not only does she have to look for her “prince,” she goes through the trials of being in Class A, a class in the school specifically for children with skills like music, modeling, or art. Feeling like she has no talent or abilities makes staying at the school harder than she thought.
Plot: 3/5 Average: It was a cute story, but not really unique in these first volumes. This is just the first two volumes, so there will be more surprises later. So far there have not been really that many things that just stand out and make you think the author was extremely original. The plot was not dull or tiresome, though. It was just like a G rated chick flick.
Graphics: 5/5 Excellent Quality: These are some of the best graphics I have ever seen in a manga. It was drawn wonderfully and with a lot of detail. At the beginning of each chapter she has a picture drawn specifically for it. The food looks so good I want to eat it and the people look really beautiful. I can say this manga was eye candy.
Moral: 4/5 Good Application: Many Japanese manga for kids focus on the moral of never giving up on your goals. This is OK as long as your goals are not bad or too ridiculous. It also had the moral of enduring other people’s nastiness and being kind to them.
Overall: 4/5: Though it did have a basic plot, it was very well drawn and the moral is good. I think girls in there late preteens or early teens will enjoy it best. You may also enjoy it if you like to cook, especially because there are recipes after the book is finished.
This is just the first two books, so later in the series the ratings on these things might change depending on what book I am in.
Official Rating: T
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 1 ½/5 A Little Suggestive: When Najika goes tree climbing, she tells a boy to not look up her skirt. A reader can see a tiny bit of her polka-dot underwear. The same boy tells her that her zipper is open in the back. Najika accidentally walks in a boy’s room when he is changing his shirt. Some girls undo a strap on her dress, so she has to try and hold it up. Some boys have a dream that the cafeteria was turned into a bar with hot girls that want to help them “rest.” They wake up before anything inappropriate is really suggested or is done.
Violence: 1 ½/5 A Little Violent: Najika rubs a boys head for teasing her. A different boy smacks food on the floor. Najika hits a boy in the head with a paper fan. Some girls shove Najika twice, and one a chef pushes Najika out of the restaurant. A girl trips Najika. Akane, a girl training to be a model, is going to slap Najika before a boy stops her, but she slaps Najika later.
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: ½ /5 A Little Misuse: “Gee” is used three times in the book.
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 2 ½/5 Emotional: Najika is an orphan and the sadness right after her parents die is shown. Akane dislikes Najika for spending time with a boy she likes and is mean to her in the first two books. She later becomes anorexic and bulimic at the same time, and her hair starts to fall out because of it. Najika goes through some emotional sadness for being treated poorly by 90% of her classmates. This emotional stress causes her to cry a few times. None of the scenes are intense or disturbing, though.
Religious Issues: 1/5 A Suggestive Issue: Though Najika does mention her parents are in heaven, most Japanese follow the Shinto religion. She was probably talking about a different kind of heaven, especially since she tells Akane later that you can never see people again after you die.
Magic: ½/5 Slightly Suggestive: Najika talks about how atmosphere and company are the “magic” that make dining enjoyable. Before she makes gratin she says she will “cast a spell.” Najika refers to what Akane’s grandma did to make pie in only thirty minutes “magic.” One of the recipes is called “magic coffee.” No magic is done in the books.
Overall: 2/5 Clean: I was very happy to find such a manga as clean as this. A lot of Japanese manga is not teen or child appropriate in Christian or even just American society. Even kid and younger teen manga is very suggestive. This manga was very good compared to many I have read and heard of. It is like a chick flick for young teens. The thing that will probably worry parents the most is the emotional issues like Akane’s anorexic and bulimic issue. Though there are emotional issues that may be too much for children, I believe it is not to intense or traumatic for most teens and even some preteens. I recommend the book morally to children 11-12 years old and older.
(This article has been slightly changed in an attempt of better wording.)