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July 9, 2010

Bento Bako Bonus: Antique Bakery vols. 3&4

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Antique Bakery
Author: Fumi Yoshinaga
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing
Volume: Volumes 3 and 4 (final), $12.95 each
Vintage: 2001 and 2002 by Shinshokan in Japan; DMP released both of their volumes in 2006
Genre: It’s really hard to classify.  There are boy’s love elements, shojo elements, romance, comedy, drama, even a little mystery.  It’s a really nice blend of different elements.  I’ve seen it classified as shonen-ai (a light version of yaoi), but I think it’s easier classified as shojo or even josei.  I say that because the series is not defined by the sexual orientation of its characters.  It’s a story that happens to have gay characters in it, and not a story about gay characters (and really, there’s only one openly gay male in the story).

First, some quick news regarding Antique Bakery. The anime has been licensed by Nozomi Entertainment (Right Stuf), and should be available early in 2011.  Hooray!  I believe they debuted a trailer at Anime Expo last weekend, which will probably be available on their site soon.  Now, on to the conclusion of my manga review!  You can read the review for volumes 1 and 2 right here.

The inner flap for volume 3 appropriately showcases Ono, who really gets to shine this time.  A bulk of the book talks about his past, which comes back to haunt him in the present.  The volume starts with two bombshell news announcers interviewing the Antique Bakery boys, who are hosting a booth during a special department store bakery fair.  Tachibana, excited to be working at a location frequented by women, is forced to stay behind at the cafe due to a sty in his eye.  This leaves the ultra shy Chikage and the women fearing Ono to take care of things at the booth.  Ono must drum up the courage to help make the booth a success.  The news report from the fair catapults the store into popularity, drawing the attention of a former lover of Ono’s, and his mentor, famous French pastry chef Jean-Baptiste Hevens.  Ono remembers his early days learning the art of pastry making and his time with the hot-tempered and often violent Jean-Baptiste.  Tachibana panics when Ono is offered a new, higher paying job from Jean-Baptiste.  When one of the news announcers asks Antique to cater at her wedding, Tachibana reminisces about his ill luck with women and inability to maintain a relationship, leading up to him opening Antique Bakery.  The final section of the book focuses on Chikage and the mystery of his private life…an overgrown daughter, about 9 or 10 years old.

Volume 4 is a bit more balanced between all of the characters.  Ono starts down the path of reconciliation with his family when his sister arrives to invite him to her wedding.  Eiji struggles to find his place when he feels Ono and Tachibana are trying to get rid of him by suggesting he study in France.  His fear of being abandoned causes him to lash out violently at some strangers.  When some kidnappings of young boys start occurring, Tachibana is asked by the local police to help catch the criminal, and he leaps at the chance to stop what happened to him from happening to someone else.  The investigation takes place right at the bakery, hoping to catch the person who has been feeding Antique’s cakes to the victims.  Tachibana is able to rescue the boy, but still fails to find the man who kidnapped him all those years ago.  Eiji eventually goes off to France to study, and Chikage sets out on his own, returning the store to its original state, with only Tachibana and Ono working in the bakery, like when they first opened.

There are a lot of flashbacks in these volumes.  We see an early relationship of Ono’s, and are witness to the violence that Ono often easily forgives.  We also learn why Ono is unable to commit to a monogamous relationship.  When the focus shifts to Tachibana, we see the deep impact his kidnapping had on his psyche and his inability to truthfully love another person.  The story of how Chikage’s mother came to work for the Tachibana family is revealed as well.  And we finally get to see the circumstances of Tachibana’s brutal refusal of Ono’s affections in high school.

As much as I adore this series, I do have one little complaint.  There’s no real resolution at the end.  Tachibana started the bakery to catch the guy who kidnapped him as a child.  Now, it’s obviously grown beyond that, so that’s certainly part of why that part of the story has no concrete resolution; it doesn’t really need one since the purpose of the bakery has changed.  However, as many of my fellow manga bloggers have pointed out, Antique Bakery is not about the plot; it’s about the characters interacting with each other, and Yoshinaga is a master at this.  Even so, I can’t help feeling a little unfulfilled at the end.  Some obvious resolutions would be nice, but it doesn’t bring down the series as a whole.  There are a couple different ways to interpret the ending.  Either as totally ambiguous, or believing that Tachibana moved on after he helped rescue the kidnapped child.  There’s nothing really wrong with an ambiguous ending, because even though the characters are sort of right back where they started in some cases, it’s clear that they have grown and changed throughout the story.  In the end, that’s more important; though I certainly wouldn’t mind reading more stories about the Antique crew.


Review copies provided by Digital Manga Publishing.



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Digital Manga. Digital Manga said: RT @girlg33k_Kris: New review: @digitalmanga's Antique Bakery vols 3&4 https://comicattack.net/2010/07/bbbantiquebakery3_4/ #manga […]

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  3. […] Sherman on vol. 1 of Angelic Runes (Seattle PI) Kristin on vols. 3 and 4 of Antique Bakery (Comic Attack) Michelle Smith on vols. 15-17 of Black Cat (Soliloquy in Blue) Erica Friedman on […]

  4. Nhu

    I believe the mangaka created many dojinshis that are more concretely yaoi that continues the story and offers a less ambiguous ending. In a perfect world, those would be licensed as well but I don’t think that will be happening…?

    I could be entirely wrong.

  5. Kristin

    Did she? Poking around a Wiki entry on her, it says that she has drawn doujinshi for Antique. I really doubt it will get published here, but I can certainly ask if DMP has any knowledge of them or any intention of licensing it. If it’s even possible. She (or her editor of publisher, if she has one for her doujin) may not want them published internationally.

  6. Kristin

    OK, the reason they are not published here, is because it’s crazy complicated. And there’s some publisher etiquette involved as well. Doujinshi is creator owned, so a publisher would have to get Yoshinaga’s permission, but that would bypass the Japanese publisher, etc. So it’s not a simple process.

    However, it appears that they gave away some copies of the AB doujinshi at some conventions at some point. Probably copies they bought from Japan, or were given, imported and untranslated, basically.

  7. Nhu

    So basically… there is NO chance that I will be able to buy a copy translated in the future. Times like these make me wish I was born Japanese… I really REALLY enjoyed Antique Bakery. It’s unique. There’s really nothing exactly like it in English. Since they’re doujinshi, it actually makes me even more curious, because (speculation only) they were probably written free of any constraints from the publisher or magazine. I wonder if she didn’t continue the series with a publisher/magazine because of that (since the doujinshi is apparently very much yaoi)…? Of course, I haven’t read it, but that’s my guess.

    Thanks for letting me know! At least it’s a pretty good ending as is.

  8. Kristin

    Oh, there’s no telling why she decided to do that. It may have just been something like…she just wanted to write more stories, but didn’t want to (or otherwise couldn’t) publish them in a magazine. It depends on who her publisher is. Since, as you said, they’re more yaoi oriented (Ono and Tachibana, is what was suggested to me), the publisher she was with may not have wanted to publish it. It could be that simple.

    But yeah…they probably won’t ever come here. You could try hunting down some RAW scans online. You might even be lucky enough to find a translation. Or you could try to hunt down the books (eBay maybe), which would likely be pretty expensive.

  9. […] Garden Dreams Author: Fumi Yoshinaga (Antique Bakery, Ōoku: The Inner Chambers) Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing Volume: One-shot, $12.95 Vintage: […]

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