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March 31, 2010

Bento Bako Lite: In the Walnut vol. 1

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: In the Walnut
Author: Toko Kawai
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing, on their Juné imprint
Volume: Volume 1
Vintage: 2002 in Japan, January 2010 from Digital Manga
Genre: Yaoi (very mild, not explicit, 16+), romance, a little drama (but not “omg drama drama)

Aspiring filmmaker Sohei Nakai has a lover named Hideo Tanizaki.  Hideo owns a small art gallery called In the Walnut, where he also restores paintings…and dabbles in a little forgery now and then.  They met in art school, when Sohei asked Hideo to star in his film project, which earned him an award.  Hideo is rather scruffy looking, and is a slob besides, but Sohei sees a real beauty in him through the lens of his camera.  In direct contrast to the lazy, laid back, and gruff Hideo, Sohei is cheery, innocent (not pure as snow, just more optimistic and more willing to see the good in people), and hardworking.

The volume is broken up into three main stories (and some bonus background stories at the end).  In the first, a customer brings in a stolen painting and asks Hideo to wipe the paint on the canvas away, in order to discover a message left to him by the painter underneath.  It’s a touching story about a talented artist, lonely and isolated, and his one true friend.  In the second story, called “Liar Angel,” a little boy seeks out a special drawing to show to his little sister before an eye operation that could leave her blind.  A precious tale about seeing things through the heart, instead of the eyes.  In “I’m Not Hamlet,” a mystery woman asks Hideo to sell an unlisted painting by a famous artist.  The painting’s secret could bring ruin or triumph, but this is one trick Hideo can’t pull off on his own.  Sohei gets active this time (Hideo usually pushed him away to keep him from being a partner in crime, essentially) and pushes his way into Hideo’s plans.

The rest of the book, which is visibly older in terms of when it was drawn, is a sort of prequel.  It details how Hideo and Sohei first met at their art college, and how Hideo came to inherit In the Walnut from his grandfather.  It’s a little rough, but it contains some of the tender elements that you’ll find more polished in the main story.

Aww, adorable! Just one of the tender and sweet moments you'll find in In the Walnut vol. 1.

This one surprised me.  The initial premise didn’t impress me (the cover description is kind of generic and boring), but the content was pleasing.  Strong characters, moving stories, nice art (plus, actual art, unlike Color), and real plot.  It’s generally episodic, with chapters that could easily stand alone, but they all involve some sneaky art dealings.  What Hideo is doing is technically illegal after all, but he takes jobs to help people, and not strictly for personal gain.  Although Hideo is generally composed and seems carefree, he gets truly flustered when he’s worried about Sohei.  They have a very warm, loving relationship.  Sohei is able to see straight through Hideo’s gruff exterior to find the gentle guy within.

The only real, impacting flaw I could think of, is that Sohei is almost a background character at times.  He’s there to give the reader perspective, particularly concerning Hideo (because we often see Hideo through Sohei’s eyes).  But he doesn’t do just a whole lot, and the story mainly focuses on Hideo and his actions.  He’s the narrator, though.  So he has enough presence to keep him from blurring into the background, but it would be nice if he were a little more active within the plot.


Read on eManga.com.  Access to eManga provided by Digital Manga.  Images belong to DMP.



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Comic Attack, Comic Attack. Comic Attack said: Bento Bako Lite: In the Walnut vol. 1 https://comicattack.net/2010/03/bblinthewalnut1/ #comics #manga #anime […]

  2. Billy

    I like the art gallery as part of the setting. I don’t know that I’ve ever read anything with that as the setting before. It makes it more intriguing.

  3. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by ComicAttack: Bento Bako Lite: In the Walnut vol. 1 https://comicattack.net/2010/03/bblinthewalnut1/ #comics #manga #anime…

  4. […] Biased Manga) Connie on vol. 7 of I Hate You More Than Anyone (Slightly Biased Manga) Kristin on vol. 1 of In the Walnut (Comic Attack) Lorena Nava Ruggero on vol. 1 of Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture (i heart manga) […]

  5. […] Biased Manga) Connie on vol. 7 of I Hate You More Than Anyone (Slightly Biased Manga) Kristin on vol. 1 of In the Walnut (Comic Attack) Lorena Nava Ruggero on vol. 1 of Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture (i heart manga) […]

  6. […] Latte Rhapsody, by Tokō Kawai (In the Walnut).  “They just look odd together from the beginning.  A bookstore employee, Serizawa – […]

  7. Kristin

    When it’s used, yeah. He’s got a studio in the basement where he forges paintings. But honestly, he’s pretty lazy, so the gallery part isn’t much. He sells paintings, but it’s mostly a cover.

  8. […] clothing.  The main story has a warmth to it, but it’s not as gentle as the feeling of In the Walnut.  Still, there’s more to this book than you would think, and my enjoyment of the title […]

  9. […] For an introduction to In the Walnut, please check out my review of volume 1. […]

  10. […] the woman who loves boys with other boys: Digital Manga Publishing’s In the Walnut (reviews here and here) is a beautiful, touching yaoi series perfect for newcomers and yaoi veterans. Bonus if […]

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