Manga Spice Cafe never seems to disappoint. Actually it seems to act as fine wine, getting better with time. Speaking of fine, we’ll be unboxing an especially tasteful 4th installment in the Manga Spice Cafe subscription box service. If you thought you’ve tasted everything, you may be pleasantly surprised at the delicacies that June’s box held. This month’s theme was “Fancy & Unusual” and Maid Mei-chan was back to serve us a lovely collection of manga, snacks, and drink. As usual, cozy up with us as we take a look inside!
Upon opening this month’s info sheet, we see our lovely manga artists alongside their bios. We got a glimpse of the actors for The Royal Tutor stage play set to release this fall, plus the manga’s temporary maid cafe opening in Osaka, Japan. We also got a link to Maki Minami’s mini interview done by Shojo Beat involving her work on Komomo Confiserie. But the most anticipated manga of June’s box, Welcome to the Ballroom, took the showcase section for this month’s feature. Tomo Takeuchi’s art is sketchy, sometimes rough, but nonetheless perfect for portraying the energy of ballroom dancing through her characters.
Takeuchi let’s us into her mind via the interview linked on the info sheet. She has a beautiful admiration for a sport which would normally be overlooked for a shonen, or boys, manga. Yet this is what makes Welcome to the Ballroom a unusual gem in the current stream of manga coming from Japan. Let’s take a look at the story:
“Feckless high school student Tatara Fujita wants to be good at something – anything. Unfortunately, he’s about as average as a slouchy teen can be. The local bullies know this, and make it a habit to hit him up for cash, but all that changes when the debonair Kaname Sengoku sends them packing. Sengoku’s not the neighborhood watch, though. He’s a professional ballroom dancer. And once Tatara Fujita gets pulled into the world of the ballroom, his life will never be the same.”
The story of a lost main character trying to find his place in the world isn’t new to the world shonen comics. But ballroom dancing and the way it is portrayed in the manga gives this tale a fresh perspective. Takeuchi expresses a lot of energy with her art! And the way she draws the eyes on her characters with looks of such hope and deep ambition, it’s dazzling! How can one not get pulled into the story? Welcome to the Ballroom gets a A+ from us!
We enjoyed this book with a delicious box of vanilla-flavored Hello Panda cookies and a small bag of Japanese sake kit kats. Yes, you heard right. Japanese Sake Kit Kats. They are amazing. And not only do they taste like sweet sake, but they have real sake alcohol in them! You can feel the slight tingle on your tongue. We also rate these a sugary A+.
The Welcome to the Ballroom anime airs July 9th!
Speaking of sugar, we now step into the world of Komomo Confiserie:
“As a little girl, Komomo Ninomiya delighted in picking on Natsu Azumi, the son of her family’s pastry chef. Ten years later, when the family fortune is lost and she has no place to live, Komomo encounters Natsu again in her hour of need. Now that Natsu is a master pastry chef in his own right, he’ll help Komomo—but only if she works for him at his new confiserie!”
Komomo Confiserie is a gorgeous manga! Minami’s style is just lovely. In the book, the manga artist slips in a few side panels full of notes on her inspirations, mentioning her visits to to confiseries. Confiserie, for those who didn’t know, is the French word for “confectionery”. Basically, it is a shop that sells sweets. Minami has drawn Komomo in various European outfits to fit the feel of the confiserie theme, even though the story itself is set in Japan. The mangaka’s use of screentones and her attention to detail is very creative and adds to the softness of the panels, giving the story a fancy touch. Unfortunately, upon reading the manga, you may find that the characters can be a bit abrasive to the point that you may not want to finish reading. Having said that, Komomo redeems herself in the end by showing her capacity to grow in character. The series is worth continuing past book 1!
We enjoyed this volume with a couple of Lychee flavored Jelly Cups! (There’s little pieces of lychee within the jello floating in sweet syrup! Yum!)
All 5 volumes of Komomo Confiserie are available!
This brings us to our last manga, The Royal Tutor:
“Accepting the post of royal tutor at the court of the king of Granzreich, Heine Wittgenstein is a little professor with a big job ahead of him! Each of the kingdom’s four princes has a rather distinct personality. Does their diminutive new instructor have what it takes to lay down some learning? It’s a comedy of educational proportions!”
This manga had the potential of being quite boring and even trope-y as there are many bishonen, or pretty boys, to look at. But The Royal Tutor turned out to be quite hilarious. The personalities of the four princes are actually quite different from the usual attitudes of bishonen-focused manga. It makes for a more interesting effect as the characters interact with one another, and even though this volume is more of a set up to help the reader familiarize themselves with the characters and setting, it looks as though the story will progress and become more serious as more volumes come out. So far, The Royal Tutor anime has gained much popularity, thus it’s worth it to take a look at the manga. After all, the panels are beautifully rendered, flow well, and it is just a lovely book to indulge in. We enjoyed this first volume with a yummy tiramisu coffee cake and delicious Pearl milk tea.
The Royal Tutor will also become a stage play, set to open in September in Japan.
So how do we rate this month’s box? A resounding 10/10! We had a savory yakisoba noodle dish with a little bit of sake chocolate, cake, cookies, and jelly, and we washed it all down with a surprisingly delicious milk tea. Plus this box came with a free straw, spoon and napkin. This made a fabulous lunch, and we got to enjoy it with fancy manga, still balanced with a little bit of action, a little bit of romance, and a little bit of comedy. Loved it!
If you want to subscribe to get your own monthly manga subscription box from Manga Spice Cafe, click here to visit their website! Thanks for reading & enjoy!