Title: Komomo Confiserie
Author: Maki Minami [Voice Over!]
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volume 1, $9.99
Vintage: 2013 by Hakusensha, September 2015 by Viz Media
Komomo Ninomiya grew up rich, in a big house with lots of servants. Her favorite servant was Natsu Azumi, the son of the family’s pastry chef, and a pastry chef in the making. Selfish and demanding, Komomo would frequently pick on Natsu, but it was Natsu’s desserts that made her happiest. Whenever she ate them, she would cry. Natsu and his father left, however, so that Natsu could study pastry making in France. Ten years later, the Ninomiya fortune has been depleted. Komomo must now survive on her own. At first she’s housed and taken care of by a family acquaintance, and on top of attending public school for the first time, she must also find a job to help support herself. Unfortunately, Komomo isn’t really adept at working a regular job, and she is regularly fired within a single day. She frequently breaks things or is found eating the food that should go to customers. It’s while she’s in such a freshly fired state that Natsu reappears before her. Natsu is running a pastry shop in a French inspired shopping arcade, and invites Komomo to live above the shop and help out. Somehow, Natsu isn’t the sweet, easily ordered boy she once knew. He’s all business now, a professional pastry chef with a shop to run, and he’s rather harsh on his former employer. Apparently Natsu has become rather sadistic, and delights in seeing Komomo cry. Eventually, Natsu calls on a friend to help him run the shop, and he warns Komomo to stay away from him. Komomo thinks Natsu must simply be jealous and want her all to himself, so she tries to make friends with Yuri. At first, she goes about it the way she always has – giving an expensive, important gift to garner affection. Yuri has no need for trinkets, however, and insists that all he needs is food. So, Komomo gives him food, and more food, until Yuri goes berserk when Komomo tries to eat food Yuri no longer wants. To Yuri’s surprise, Komomo insists they remain friends, and later even asks him to teach her how to cook. Along with a simple dish, Yuri also teaches Komomo the power of a simple “thank you.” Though things improve at the pastry shop, Komomo’s first days at school are rocky, when the current school “queen” makes all the other girls bully her.
Cute, but ultimately bland. A nice, mindless read, if that’s what you’re looking for, and sometimes that’s all people want. Which is fine. It doesn’t hold my interest, however. That’s been my opinion of the other two works by Minami I’ve read, as well. Komomo is a bit of an anomaly. She’s spoiled, privileged, bratty, and bullies poor Natsu (although apparently because she likes him). Yet somehow, despite all contrary evidence in her upbringing (though admittedly we don’t know much about it other than servants have always done everything for her and her every whim has been catered to her whole life), she’s very empathetic to others, naive, generally kind, and wants everyone to be happy. That side of her makes Komomo a likeable character, which is important, but there isn’t a current source of her growth in that direction. She definitely has her “spoiled brat” moments. Perhaps the way she tries to be welcoming to everyone stems from wanting desperately to be liked by others. She has also been learning that the way she used to be didn’t generate anything genuine. That the people who were her “friends” in the past were only friendly because she was rich and could give them things. She learns the lesson very quickly with help from Yuri, and immediately recognizes when a classmate at her new school behaves in a similar manner. She swiftly dismantles that, for the benefit of everyone – no bullying will be happening in front of Komomo-sama! As for Natsu’s dramatic change, well, he’s had to work very hard to be a top pastry chef. His motivations aren’t 100% clear, though. Was it for himself, his father, or Komomo? Maybe all three, given his love of watching Komomo cry when she eats his sweets. There’s something else going on, too. Komomo seems to be promised as someone’s wife, a fact Natsu appears aware of. It’s not spelled out, but there’s enough hints dropped to make it predictable. Unless it’s meant to be misleading. Assuming she’s promised to someone, Natsu has his reasons for being strict. It’s apparently become his job to help Komomo transition from helpless child to competent adult. Of course, it’s more likely Natsu and Komomo will end up together, as that’s how things tend to progress. But who knows? It’s only volume one, and there’s time for other characters to appear and generate tension. Yuri’s kind of funny, and it’s nice that someone other than Natsu is around to teach Komomo about the real world. Rise was introduced in the final chapter, leaving plenty of time for a new friendship to bloom in future volumes. If you’re familiar with Minami’s other Viz Media produced series, Komomo is quite a bit different from the heroines in those tales, although Yuri and Natsu have over-the-top kind of traits that are common with the boys of Special A. And while her art has improved, her males still look a lot alike. Again, it’s fairly mindless reading. The only challenge is that the images of delicious food might make you hungry or activate your sweet tooth.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.