If you were here for the launch of Manga Spice Cafe on March 1st, and signed up for our very first box, chances are you’ll be receiving this soon — a box full of tasty treats, a special Ramune drink, and brand new manga! (Though one is old. In fact, it is a classic, being brought back out into the light due to a soon to be released major motion picture! More on that later.)
A cute and quirky part of the Manga Spice box is that each box is “packed” by an original manga maid character. For every box, there will be a card greeting you with a new maid character, like how a maid would greet you at a cafe in Japan. This IS a manga maid cafe in a box! Mei-chan, the maid for March, plus our main mascot for Manga Spice Cafe, welcomes you home and serves you up a lot of great info about the manga artists of each book and the snacks & drinks within the box.
As we unwrap the tissue paper, we are surprised by the number of cool items Mei-chan was able to fit in. Our first great manga gift was Anonymous Noise, whose title and cover art already seemed to draw us in. The story was as equally enticing:
“Nino Arisugawa, a girl who loves to sing, experiences her first heart-wrenching goodbye when her beloved childhood friend, Momo, moves away. And after Nino befriends Yuzu, a music composer, she experiences another sad parting! Both boys promised Nino that they would find her one day through her singing, so she holds on to that hope and continues to reach out with her voice. Now in high school, Nino serendipitously reunites with Yuzu, but she yearns to see Momo again…
Author of Anonymous Noise, Ryoko Fukuyama, has taken what could have been a cliche romantic comedy and made it her own. The heroine, Nino, is not your typical happy-go-luck, innocent shoujo main character. She is imperfect, bold and makes choices on her own, and that’s where her charm really lies. Speaking of bold, Fukuyama’s art is as beautiful and soft as it is edgy and dynamic, showcasing gorgeous costumes, detailed backgrounds and fun effects.
Pairing it up with refreshing grape flavored Ramune made for a nice read.
The anime version Anonymous Noise makes its debut April 11th!
There’s something to be said about our next manga gift, the artwork is absolutely wonderful! The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, gets its inspiration from the popular game series. Here’s the story summary:
“Link must defeat evil at every turn in his perilous quest to help Princess Zelda!
Once upon a time, wizards tried to conquer the Sacred Realm of Hyrule. The Spirits of Light sealed the wizards’ power within the Shadow Crystal and banished them to the Twilight Realm beyond the Mirror of Twilight. Now, an evil menace is trying to find Midna, Princess of the Twilight Realm, and the fragments of the Shadow Crystal to gain the power to rule over both the Twilight Realm and the World of Light.
Link once trained in swordsmanship, hoping to protect the world of Hyrule. After a fateful meeting, he sought out the anonymity and peace of life in a small village. But danger and adventure always find heroes to set things right, and when the dark minions of the King of Shadows threaten his new home, Link answers the call!
If you are a fan of The Legend of Zelda series and interested in delving a bit deeper in to the world of Hyrule from the Twilight Princess game, then this book is for you. But take note that Link’s character has a backstory, and a plot that diverges from the game, taking an even darker tone as it goes. If all is well in that department, this manga makes for a great read. And did we say the art is absolutely wonderful? Akira Himekawa’s style is beautiful with both character depictions and backgrounds. Oh but Akira is not one, but a two-woman collaboration between A. Honda and S. Nagano! Fans of their work can find ten previously created Zelda mangas available featuring the adventures of Link.
What did we choose to enjoy this with? A bag of Hokkaido Matcha Milk Candies! Is the bag not warm and inviting? For those who don’t know, Hokkaido is an island in Japan known for its dairy and cream. These hard candies transported us straight there with its smooth, creamy texture and its light taste of green tea.
Our last manga was a treat. Ghost in the Shell! Fun fact, according to Wikipedia, Shirow Masamune, author of the manga, stated that he had always wanted the title of his manga to be “GHOST IN THE SHELL”, even in Japan, but his original publishers preferred Kōkaku Kidōtai (攻殻機動隊?). He had chosen “Ghost in the Shell” in homage to Arthur Koestler‘s The Ghost in the Machine, from which he also drew inspiration.
So who is Shirow Masamune you ask? Though he prefers not to be considered this, Shirow is recognized and highly respected in and outside of Japan as an all-time great manga creator. Following his manga successes such as Black Magic, Appleseed, & Dominion, Ghost in the Shell became a smash hit, resulting in several anime adaptations, the animated motion picture from 1995 soon after to become an internationally acclaimed anime classic.
Ghost in the Shell’s summary:
“Deep into the twenty-first century, the line between man and machine has been inexorably blurred as humans rely on the enhancement of mechanical implants and robots are upgraded with human tissue. In this rapidly converging landscape, cyborg superagent Major Motoko Kusanagi is charged to track down the craftiest and most dangerous terrorists and cybercriminals, including “ghost hackers” who are capable of exploiting the human/machine interface and reprogramming humans to become puppets to carry out the hackers’ criminal ends. When Major Kusanagi tracks the cybertrail of one such master hacker, the Puppeteer, her quest leads her into a world beyond information and technology where the very nature of consciousness and the human soul are turned upside down.
Yes this manga is old, but it’s great to see a sophisticated adult-oriented comic like this in such a large format. Shirow’s work is truly amazing, from the amount of detail put into each panel to the addition of colorful pages found between each section. The action is griping, you won’t want to put the book down. Despite the maturity of the content, Shirow doesn’t take things too seriously. Even Major sticks her tongue out like a child. Speaking of which, Ghost in the Shell is not kid-friendly as Shirow enjoys exploring the human psyche with themes like “sex, politics and existentialism”.
The live-action US film is scheduled for release March 31st 2017!
Why not enjoy a piece of classic manga history with a piece of traditional Chinese cake? Fluffy on the outside, sweet strawberry filling on the inside. Nice Choice Strawberry Cake is definitely a favorite of the Manga Spice Cafe maids.
Lastly, we found a Kracie Poppin’ Cookin’ kit that let’s you create miniature ice cream cones and cake wafers. Thanks to Mei-chan, we get to try our hand at being a maid too, making lovely desserts. Kracie kits are pretty popular, especially for people outside of Japan, as very few candies seem to have a do-it-yourself component to them. Here’s a video walk-through for your Kracie kit. Will we see more kits like this in future boxes? That all depends on the maids. 😉
We hope you enjoyed this month’s box! For those who want to grab the next box for themselves, visit us at MangaSpiceCafe.com! (Next box orders open April 1st!)