Greetings and Merry Christmas to the ones who celebrate it! Whether you are alone or with your loved ones, wishing you a night that you can unwind and forget your troubles even if it’s just for a day. On this week’s Friday BL, I’m here to talk about What Did You Eat Yesterday?, which technically isn’t a BL but a seinen/slice-of-life series that’s started being serialized in 2007. Enjoy ~
Title: What Did You Eat Yesterday?
Author & Artist: Yoshinaga Fumi
Status: Ongoing, 17 volumes.
Where to read: Kodansha‘s website or any other digital platform/print store of your choice.
When the clock hits 6 p.m., the only thing you’ll see Shiro Kakei doing in the law firm he works at is to hurriedly leave the place. His particularity when it comes to preparing dishes, good looks compared to his age, and the way he hurries to go home brings one and only one possibility to his coworkers’ minds: he must be rushing to his girlfriend waiting at home. They aren’t completely off the mark. Though, it’s not a girlfriend but Kenji Yabuki, a middle-aged hairstylist. Shiro’s partner whom they’ve been living together for 3 years now.
Grocery shopping, managing the kitchen and expenses, and cooking is Shiro’s job while Kenji deals with chores or lends a helping hand for the food preparation and the dinner table is where these two enjoy a shared meal while catching up with each other’s daily lives or have heartfelt conversations. Through daily occurrences, we get to know what they are like as characters, their attitude towards their sexual orientation, and its intersection with the ‘life outside’.
The gendered comments outsiders make. The efforts Shiro’s mom put into understanding her son being gay, but still occasionally saying things like “Well, you could’ve been a murderer too, so it’s good,” out of ‘good’ intentions. Or so many details that could’ve been otherwise mundane, such as being there for your partner when their parents get sick, holding hands while walking home, or boasting about them at work but they become issues they have to smooth out or compromise even if they don’t want to just because both of them are men.
While all of these details are fleshed out, I hope you don’t get the impression that this series is a highly cathartic piece about what LGBTQIA+ people go through on a daily. On the contrary, it’s extremely down-to-earth, quite humorous, and both the established relationship and the ages of the characters allow a lot of room for friends, neighbors, or colleagues to find themselves a place in the story. These points are the biggest charms of and what makes What Did You Eat Yesterday? so special.
I’m 3 volumes into the story, so it felt more appropriate to use ‘first impressions’ in the title because that’s what it feels like compared to 17 volumes. And although I sang praises in the paragraphs above, I still feel a bit frustrated. Let me try to explain.
My frustration comes from the cooking in this manga. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes from time to time. The act itself serves as a safe haven for Shiro where he can unwind at the end of the day, also to hint at certain characteristics of his. For example, how preoccupied he is with what others think or gender norms to a point he thinks what he’s doing is too gay. Or how particular he is when it comes to watching out for the calorie intake, the nutritional balance, or the monthly groceries spendings. It also provides a sweet, domestic setting where he and his partner sit down across from each other and enjoy the food.
I mention whenever I find the chance that I need more established relationships in romance. Getting together is exciting, and sure I can’t get enough of them. However, established relationships, especially two men in their 40’s, allow a very different dynamic and come with a different set of concerns or joys. This aspect of What Did You Eat Yesterday? is what makes the manga specifically tailored for me. Well, almost.
Because those detailed recipes and the process of cooking them are in every single chapter! And overall they constitute half of the volume. I feel like I’m reading a cookbook and to be honest, I don’t care about the cooking to that extent. Not more than the purpose it serves. Starting from the third chapter in the first volume, I started to skip those 5-6 pages. To me, it disrupts the flow and gets in the way of setting the story.
In the end, it’s not a matter of existence but the frequency of it. If we were to get one detailed recipe in a volume, I’d be more than willing to call this series one of my all-time favorites. It’s so funny, sweet, full of themes and details that I want more in romance. But because I love Shiro and Kenji’s casual dynamic so much, I’m more conscious of the cooking part. Still, it’s a page-turner and I’ll keep reading these two adorable men sharing meals, enjoying each other’s presence, and supporting the other the best they can.
17 volume count may be scary, it surely was to me. I was lucky enough to take advantage of a big sale coupled with an 80% coin back event on Bookwalker. However, What Did You Eat Yesterday? is more of a casual series where you can pick up a volume and get the next whenever you feel like it since you won’t be tormented by cliffhangers. At least for now, since I don’t know what happens in the volumes further down the road.
I recommend What Did You Eat Yesterday? to people who are in the mood to read a slice-of-life manga about the daily lives of two middle-aged men (actually more exciting than how it sounds), who’d be interested in catching a glimpse of gender norms/dynamics in Japan, learn about home economics and perfectly-balanced recipes! It also has a live-action series that I’ve only seen the trailer for on Netflix, the cast looks totally on point and seems to have good chemistry so you might want to check that out as well.
What do you think? Would you be interested in reading this manga? If you’ve already read it, what are your opinions on the cooking parts? Were you able to enjoy it or try some out or did you skip as I did? Let me know in the comments and see you next week!!
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