If there’s one thing I really enjoy food wise its ramen. Meaning this was an easy sell for me. In fact the only thing that could have made the reading experience better was probably eating ramen at the same time. Can we all just pause for a ramen break? No? Okay I’ll just get some on my own. Let’s Eat Ramen is a collection of short stories from creator Nagumo. The title story is definitely one of the best as it follows the character Saeki who is a young girl obsessed with ramen and wants to try all kinds, but is afraid to. Mainly because as Nagumo explains it’s a male dominate cuisine and so this young girl doesn’t want to sit in a ramen house surrounded by older men all by herself. As she’s attempting to work up the courage to go in by herself she runs into a classmate that coyly helps her by going in and eating with her. The catch is that once his good deed is done Saeki shows him a book of a 100 ramen places. After that they become ramen eating buddies.
The story is only three chapters and it doesn’t really have this big conclusion. It’s just a quick and cute story about a girl who loves ramen, but you do get a sense for her character. You even get a sense of the relationship/friendship developing between Saeki and Hozumi. Nagumo manages to create a world around these characters that feels very real and well developed.
What really needs to be praised is the artwork. My goodness are these three stories absolutely beautiful. The rest of the book is still good looking, but the Let’s Eat Ramen chapters are by far the best. The detail that Nagumo puts into the line work is outstanding, but it’s the grey scale that’s truly impressive. You can practically see the color it’s that in-depth and hell it may be a converted page, but that doesn’t change how clean and detailed it looks.
The next story I’d like to cover is set in high school. I wish I could read the name, but the font was too bubbly though it could be “Urameshiza.” Again I could be wrong on that title. The story follows a girl that’s watering flowers at the school one day when another girl in a swimsuit freaks out on her. She’s startled by her being down there and thought she might have been a ghost.
A complex friendship begins and the story will make you wonder if one of these two main characters are in fact a ghost. Throughout the course of the story though a friendship is built and the characters grow to understand each other. It was a really intriguing story and even though it felt obvious to me what the answer would be there were still some swerves along the way that elevated the story.
Again the art was wonderful and while it wasn’t as detailed with grey scale as Let’s Eat Ramen, it had a wonderful style and look to it. That’s definitely something you could see and tell about each story that they all had their own style and while overall you could see hints of an underlining style it wasn’t something like you see in the States of an intentional style and look.
With each story being so short it makes this book hard to put down. Not that I was trying to, but the cool thing about short stories is that you can stop at some points and start again. Almost savoring the book here and there rather than needing to blaze through it all. Still though, I blazed through it all because I really enjoyed the variety of stories. There’s friendship, there’s food, there’s yuri elements and they’re all united by fantastic art. Art that frankly puts a lot of “professional” work to shame.
Another side effect of these being short stories is that it makes for a great place to start reading manga. If you never have before this is the perfect sampling of several genres and really an introduction to the style of storytelling you’ll find. Now… can we seriously go eat ramen?
Let’s Eat Ramen and Other Doujinshi Short Stories Writer/Artist/Creator: Nagumo Aji-chi Publisher: Gen Manga Price: $10.95 Release Date: 8/18/15 Format: Trade Paperback; Print