I revisit my first Fumi Yoshinaga manga during the Oishinbo/Foodie Manga MMF.
I can’t really remember why I picked up Antique Bakery. I was in my BL (i.e., boys’ love) phase, but I’m not sure if I picked this up because it looked like BL (it had pretty boys in a pastry shop), or if I picked this up because it had a lovely strawberry pastry on the front cover (complete with scratch-n-sniff sticker!). Whatever the reason, I bought it and took it home and fell in love with Ono. (Typical.)
The first few stories just feature various customers coming to the bakery (called “Antique”) as Tachibana (the owner) describes in loving, drooling detail all the decadent dessert masterpieces that Ono creates for the store. You get a peek at something weird in the past between Tachibana and Ono, but the story doesn’t go back to that for several chapters and instead the reader is just given some customer interactions. Ono is openly gay, and Tachibana is most definitely not, but he seems to have come a long way from the hostility in the opening scene. Kanda, Ono’s assistant and ex-boxer, is the third member of this bakery team, and he worships Ono (in a purely professional manner), and bickers with Tachibana.
Eventually the first volume does jump back and we see how everyone ended up working together at Antique. And this has probably the best scene in the whole series when Ono describes his “curse” before he realizes who Tachibana is. I remember literally laughing out loud for a great while, and then immediately telling my friend she HAD to read this book. Actually, that whole chapter is wonderful; I love Ono’s other side, and I loved watching Tachibana’s complete bafflement.
As the series progresses we meet a few other characters like Tachibana’s childhood companion, the inept Chikage (which leads to hilarious complications in the workplace), and we see a darkness in Tachibana’s past that comes back to haunt him (the entire 4th volume deals with his trauma). But really, my favorite parts are just the guys working in the bakery, baking cakes and pastries and making their customers happy (and being silly and squabbling and starry-eyed). My tastebuds are unhappy though, as I can’t taste all of the wonderful things Yoshinaga draws…
…or that Tachibana describes.
It’s pure food porn!
I can, however, go visit the bakery and get an approximate substitute.
I picked the above up from Beard Papa’s Mousse Fantasy Sweet Cafe (lol, quite the mouthful). I was hoping they would have a Mont Blanc, which I have never had, but not this time. So instead I got a Napoleon (aka “mille-feuille”). They made it with three layers of puff pastry, two layers of pastry cream, and in the second layer, they also added whipped cream and strawberries. I LOVE whipped cream and strawberries. It’s my favorite. This was divine.
I also picked up a strawberry cream puff. I’ve eaten this before (many times…), and it’s my favorite of their cream puffs (they only serve the strawberry on weekends), but I decided it was appropriate for MMF because I learned this time from the reread that a choux pastry is the light puffy pastry dough used to make eclairs and cream puffs. Not that I really need an excuse to buy a strawberry cream puff.
DMP is known for licensing BL/yaoi manga, so some people may steer clear of Antique Bakery for that reason, but it really isn’t yaoi. It’s more like a slice-of-life with some comedy and some drama, and one character just happens to be gay. If you are avoiding it because you dislike yaoi, you are missing out on a great manga with entertaining characters (and drool-worthy dessert ideas).