Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Moyashimon, vol. 5, review

(Outer cover. All copyrights protected by their owners. All images used here are for review purposes only.)

Moyashimon, Vol. 5 - Grade: A

Life is heating up for the Ag. research group, and the story is getting more fun. The artwork is consistently good, and the character designs don't shift uncontrollably when the characters go from face-on to profile.

As is the usual case with this manga, the first few pages are a digression hosted by the microbes. This time, they explain the jokes going on with the "in the next issue" pages. In the previous volumes, we're told that the next issue will talk about the big diet plan, or about Keizo's time in the army, none of which actually show up. Then we segue into NouDai in the Fall.

(Junichi's version of Hasegawa. Junichi Takaoka , character designer on the Moyashimon anime, is an animation director and storyboard artist, having worked on Slayers, Bubble Gum Crisis, Lupin III and Deathnote.)

Things start out with Keizo inspecting his new press and still, with an explanation why the new equipment has led to a standardization of taste in shochu. Tada, Misato and Kawahama head out to visit Hiyoshi's sake shop so that Tada can check up on Kei. As they approach, Kei, in full costume, smashes through the shop window with a sledge hammer. He's been given full permission by the old man to renovate as he sees fit, while the grandson thinks that knocking out all of the walls without a follow-up plan is going a bit far. Kei feels that sake shops need to be more than just places to sell sake, and the old man agrees. He takes the group into the tasting room to demonstrate one of his personal blends (in the past, sake sellers used to make up their own blends to compensate for the tendency to drink too much of specific lines of their own wares).

(She's back.)

Meanwhile, Hasegawa is just stepping out of the front gates of the campus when her father drives up in a limousine and tells her to get in. Mutou stumbles along, and Mr. Hasegawa gives her Haruka's lab coat and a letter to pass on to Keizo, while grumbling about NouDai students being drunk so early in the morning. Hasegawa is then rushed off to the airport, where she joins Ryouta on a plane. Keizo is on the phone to Hazuki, telling her to pick up food supplies from a convenience store for the upcoming Harvest Festival. When Hazuki returns to the lab, Keizo mumbles about the new problem that has arose - Hasegawa was supposed to buy wine and cheese for him.

(Tada rediscovers his first love.)

On the plane, Ryouta is living the good life in first class. Previously, he'd been working as a traveling businessman, and the company would only send him economy class. Haruka tells him to leave her alone, she just wants to sleep now. The scene switches to Aya's bar, where Hazuki is talking to Aya. A customer is trying to impress his date about how to be a good bartender, but the part-timer actually mixing the drinks is a lackluster guy that simply rocks the shaker limply before pouring the drink into the glass. Hazuki and Aya complain about the guy's presentation, then two drunk punks fall out of their chairs and smash their glasses on the floor. The part-timer shows his true skill as he gently talks the punks into settling down and leaving without a fight. The two women are impressed, but they still want the part-timer to learn to mix drinks better.

(Harvest Festival, Day 1.)

The next day, the front gates are locked, and a massive crowd is packed in front of them, waiting to get inside. Welcome to the first day of the Harvest Festival, where housewives are desperate to rush the stalls to pick up the free, fresh produce. Misato and Kawahama had been raiding the research gardens for agave for the production of Kawahama's homemade tequila, which they plan to sell at the research lab's stall - called "Aoi's Bar". But, there's kind of a staff shortage - Aoi Mutou wakes up drunk and refuses to put on the bunny suit Keizo provided for her; Hasegawa's AWOL; and Misato and Kawahama want to wander the campus to see the other stalls, leaving only Hazuki and Tada. There's an explanation of the different kinds of Mexican liquor, and Kawahama tells Tada to watch the tubs and not sell the three different agave drinks until they're ready - which is difficult because a huge crowd lines up in front of the stall to buy beverages at 200 yen a cup. Aoi does arrive, but she's wearing sweats and no makeup, disappointing her fans (she's been called "Miss NouDai" for being one of the most beautiful women on campus).

(Kyouko Tanaka.)

Misato and Kawahama slip into disguises as researchers to sneak backstage of the open air theater, where pop idol Kyouko Tanaka (featured on the cover of the book) is performing. They tell Kyouko that they've developed a new teeth whitener wash that they want her to try, and they get her to spit the wash into a crock that they then spirit away. Aya arrives at "Aoi's Bar", and helps with the sales, while wearing her cheerleader's outfit. She tells the group that she's participating in the evening event. The crowds go home, the gates close, and the evening festival starts up. There's a big rematch full-contact fight between two professors, with Aya being the ring bunny. The older professor is the reigning champ, but he's been in the hospital for several months. Before his surgery, his brain patterns were programmed into a robot that then trashes the younger professor all over again.

(Fighter Number 1, Prof. Mikami.)

That night, Mr. Hasegawa is leaving Hiyoshi's bar. Kei reminds him that the rule of the secret night tastings is that what is said in the bar stays in the bar. He enters his car, grumbling about how all they wanted to talk about was Haruka. Keizo calls him on his cell phone, says "you broke the rule; you never know who's listening" and then he blows up the black powder bomb tacked onto Hasegawa's watch. Keizo comments to Kei about how Haruka has been flown to Paris to get married. The next day, Kei goes to Aoi's Bar and relays the information to the group. From this point, everyone plots to raise money for plane tickets: Kei and Hazuki show up at Aoi's Bar - Kei in goth-loli form, Hazuki in the bunny girl dress; Mutou shows up in a Mickey Mouse suit that leaves her fans unimpressed; Tada simply in making tequila; and Misato and Kawahama selling off the crock from Kyouko in an anonymous auction that night (for $400). Collectively, they raise enough money to send three people to France.

(Fighter Number 2, Prof. Tachibana.)

After the festival ends, Aoi's Bar gets penalized for taking the agave plants without permission, with Misato and Kawahama getting suspended for 20 days. Tada visits the lab, and the microbes in Haruka's yeast production experiments ask him why they haven't seen her in a while. They miss her. Tada suddenly announces that he wants to try to go rescue Hasegawa, shocking everyone. Misato and Kawahama get forced to fly with Tada to Paris, giving us a little digression as the microbes explain why the economy class cabin is so packed with germs and viruses.

(Aya's bar's part-time bartender.)

The three guys stay in a cramped little hotel room, and blow their weekly budget on wine and dinner in 2 days. Misato and Kawahama give up fast. They don't know Paris, and they can't get along with the French. The only thing that matches their stereotype of the city is the high prices of the food. All they want to do is buy the wine and cheese that Keizo tasked them to get, and go back home. Tada traces Haruka to the Paris Ritz hotel, but she'd checked out that morning. Kawahama gives Tada Haruka's lab coat, asking if he can follow the scent. Tada yells that he sees microbes, not smells them. They decide to go south to Bourgogne, where the church is located. Meanwhile, 380 kilometers to the west, Ryouta is at the top of a cathedral, saying that all the people down on the ground look like trash. He suddenly realizes that his fiancee and the driver are missing. Down on the road on the other side of the field, Haruka stands next to the car and stares back at the cathedral.

(Kei and Hazuki working their stuff in support for Haruka.)

The omake section talks about what moyashi-ya do (making starter cultures of different kinds of yeast and malt), along with two versions of the history of sake yeast development.

(Aoi Mutou? Not so much.)

Notes: The two fighting professors are Prof. Mikami and Prof. Tachibana. After Tada flies out, Hazuki is sitting in Prof. Tachibana's class. The Prof. is covered in bandages following his humiliating defeat by the robot. He's calling role, and Hazuki is trying to pretend to be Tada for attendance purposes.

After the festival, while still wearing the bunny girl dress, Hazuki is starting to realize that she likes doing cosplay.

(The friendly skies.)

Kei is concerned that Tada is going to get sick on the food in France, and he knuckles down to study his classroom textbooks in order to help Tada out in the future. (The microbes are also concerned, and they talk Tada into packing bundles of miso and soy sauce to take with him to eat to stay healthy and avoid food poisoning.)

Summary - Yeast, oishii! Highly recommended.


Bunny said...

I can see you're really starting to enjoy Moyashimon.

gentei ban came with weird things like key chains and mascots.

Next up, try Yozakura Quartet ^^;

TSOTE said...

Yeah, it's fun. A little annoying that I have to wait 5-6 weeks for book 10. Sigh. Just scanned over the latest Evening issue, with Tada meeting a relative in New Orleans. I hope they spend more time talking about whiskey.

I was looking for some of the back issues with the premiums, but no luck. Looks like the only "special" for #10 will be a 200 yen discount if you pre-order before the end of the month.

Thanks for the recommendation.