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Addicted to Curry – Katzuki Funatsu

I’m addicted to Addicted to Curry. 

Y’know, I resisted reading this for a long time as I was prejudiced against this naff title that seemed to appear on update pages constantly – when other titles that I was desperately following wouldn’t. And it’s a seinen and I was into shoujo and josei at the time. More fool me. At the time of writing Addicted to Curry is on 92 chapters and counting, and it still hasn’t run out of steam.

Sonezaki Yui is a high school girl with an inabilty to cook. Which is unfortunate, because her curry chef father went AWOL a few years ago – leaving her in charge of their already failing curry house (“Ganesha”). All of a sudden Koenji Makito, a perverted guy with awesome culinary skill in the area of curry, appears out of the blue and offers to help her save the business from being absorbed by Suiren, a snobbish multi-national chain of restaurants – for free. He says he was Yui’s father’s friend in an another restaurant – but why should he help her? Why is he travelling across Asia picking up curry recipes? What is Makito’s real goal?

Every single chapter features at least one curry at its centrepiece, and includes the complete recipe – which you think would get quite dull/contrived after a while, yet somehow Katzuki-sensei makes it work. And who knew that so many different types of curry existed?! Not just Indian, but Japanese, Thai, Chinese and Nonya (which I was very happy to see included as a Rick Stein fan) too. Whilst the story does occasionally get repetitive (I get think there have been four curry competitions thus far), it does get done genuinely differently each time that does happen, with different stakes, locations, curry style etc. I can sort of forgive repetition, because at least there is real dramatic tension – even if you think you know what’s going to happen each time. The artwork is good, if not particularly original, but you have to have respect for the guy that can make curry look good in black and white, (it’s a dish that’s notoriously hard to prettify).

One of the things I do like about this manga is that despite it’s length (so far) it’s mostly killer and very little filler. Whilst there is an ongoing plot and story-arcs within that, the nature of the story is such that it allows Katzuki-sensei to meander off-piste every so often without you really noticing or caring too much – even if you do notice you learn something about the history of curry-bread, or how to improve your onion-chopping technique. It is laugh out loud funny in places with some splendid visual gags, and some pretty well-observed characterisation – where even the background characters aren’t just standing jokes, but are eventually given the chance to be three-dimensional, (the notable exception thus far being a square-jawed gyaru, think “chav”, but hey I’m sure there are plans). At the heart of Addicted to Curry is a very sweet, refreshing and realistic love story that is slow-burning to say the least; it’s the perfect antidote for shoujo, some josei of the harlequin kind, and shounen which always seems to depict a hopelessly perfect individual as the love interest – and if they have a flaw, it’s usually cute/noble/there’s a good reason for it. It’s always good to remember that real guys aren’t likTsuruga Ren in Skip Beat, they’re closer to Makito.

I give it or 4 out of 5 so far, but I reserve the right to revise the score up OR down as the series goes on. I think it’s well worth a go and  I really fancy trying out some of those recipes. On the other hand it ought to carry a health warning, you really do find yourself craving curry 😛

Stay tuned folks!

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