Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Moyashimon, vol. 6, review

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

Moyashimon, Vol. 6 - Grade: A
Ryouta catches up with Haruka and the driver, surprised that they'd abandoned him. Haruka is remembering when she was happiest, the one day as a child she'd wrapped herself up in her fluffy bedsheets after refusing to take a bath and then not wanting to wake up. Sitting in the car, she tries to ignore Ryouta as much as possible. Elsewhere, Tada, Misato and Kawahama (TMK) have taken the train from Paris down past Nuits St. Georges to Beune. Kawahama gives the other two a lesson on French wines, as they rent a bicycle to ride out to where Aoi told them Haruka was expected to be. As they get close to a massive mansion (being run as a bed-and-breakfast) in the middle of the grape fields, they get run over by a small car.

(Another case of the cover color being too light.)

The driver gets out and asks in French if they are dead. Named Marie, she speaks perfect Japanese (later explained by the fact that all she likes to do is study Japanese), is dressed as a white goth-loli, and is another dead ringer for Kei. When she determines that they're ok, she gets ready to leave and TMK all start feigning severe injuries, forcing her to drive them to the mansion. At the mansion, she makes it clear that she hates being trapped at the winery, having to take over from her grandfather and father, since her older brother, Pierre ran away long ago. Her father tried going to the city to work in an office 5 years before, but gave that up soon after.

TMK are expected to work for their keep at the B&B; they are to act as waiters in return for dinner and a room. Their timing is excellent, since the evening's guests are Japanese and the chef is having trouble understanding their requests. One person in particular is refusing to drink the house wine with the meal. Turns out that the guests are Ryouta and Haruka, and Ryouta is making a fool of himself. He's trying to show himself to be a connoisseur, but is failing horribly and getting really mad. Tada steps in and pours some of his soy sauce on Ryouta's plate, allowing the kitchen staff to gracefully replace his dish with something else, but only making him even angrier. After getting over her shock at seeing TMK, Haruka apologizes for the inconvenience. Ryouta leaves, with the driver to come back and pick up Haruka later. She wants to talk to Marie about the wine, but the French goth-loli has locked herself up in her room and refuses to come out. Haruka is surprised to learn that the research team really wants her to come back to the lab, and then she is driven back to her hotel as well.

(Marie - AKA: The French white goth-loli Kei.)

Unfortunately, for Ryouta, TMK informed Haruka that the entire purpose of the Paris trip was for her to marry him at the end, something neither Ryouta nor her father had bothered to mention to her. She finds a bottle of Romanee Conti in the limo. In the hotel, Ryouta is livid at having been shown up during dinner and he bursts into Haruka's room to yell at her for not meeting him in the lobby. That's when he learns that it's not a good idea to give Haruka wine. The next morning, Haruka wakes up, not remembering anything from the night before, with Ryouta cowering in the next room, wrapped up in blankets, with a nosebleed and an urn on top of his head, repeating "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

TMK sneak back into town and drop off the mangled bicycle in front of the rental shop and run off (Marie trying to drive away before the guys can get into the car). Marie shows two sides of her personality to Tada; one, she loves the grapes and the vineyards; two, she can't stand the idea of spending her life picking grapes and taking over the winery from her father. The winery business has been bad because her father is a lousy manager. Tada thinks that she really does love wine, but this thought makes her angry.

(Marie's father, Nicho.)

(And her grandfather.)

Elsewhere, the limo driver tells Haruka that he's been given orders to make sure she's in town in the evening (for the wedding announcement) but until then she's free to do whatever she wants. She thanks him for this "head's up". She tracks down Misato and Kawahama in one village to ask for help. Kawahama mentions that all of his plans have worked up to this point, so he should be trusted this time too. They split up with the goal of returning to the B&B. Kawahama is to pretend that he's a wandering Mexican tourist if any "guys in black suits" ask him about Haruka, while Misato and Haruta are to wear matching "Paris" shirts and act like a couple as they walk back.

That afternoon, the Hasegawa entourage goes into full panic at realizing that the "bride" is missing from the ceremony. The guys in black suits scour the area, talking to Marie and Kawahama, and walking past Misato and Haruka. Kawahama makes it to the B&B, but Haruka is walking the dirt roads in 3" heels and she's getting tired. At one point after the sun's gone down, a limo drives by and Misato pushes Haruka over the side of a low brick wall to hide. Lying in the mud, she realizes that the night sky is beautiful, and that she's actually enjoying all of this. Marie drives up to find them, and Kawahama attacks Misato for trying to womanize Haruka. When they reach the B&B, Haruka declares that now she's covered in mud and sweat, she wants to go to bed without taking a bath first. However, Marie decides to make them all dinner, something that's going to take 4 hours. When they do sit down to eat, Marie wants to pour Haruka some wine, and Tada mentions that she'd probably prefer what Marie's father is drinking - there's no microbes around it so it's probably just plain grape juice.

(Do not give Haruka an excuse to drink wine.)

Marie goes into shock. Haruka takes this moment to try to talk to her about the vineyard. We now get two separate stories of father-daughter conflict. Haruka hates the fact that her father's been making decisions about her life without listening to what she wants, especially in planning the secret wedding at the end of the trip. Marie wants to go to Japan and see the rest of the world. She's especially offended now that she knows the reason the winery's been so badly managed is that her father hasn't tasted any of the estate's wines in years. It's like a chef that can't eat his own cooking - how can he tell that it's good enough for the diners if he doesn't sip it himself? However, they live on a small estate and it's being threatened in a buy up by a major combine. They may not have the winery that much longer. The two women go into the cellars, which Marie has had locked up for the last several years, and some of the microbes take this chance to escape. They rush to ask Tada for help. Eventually, Marie and Haruka agree that they're both like birds in a cage, and they need to confront their fathers about the situation.

(Blending in with the locals.)

Tada pours some of the estate wine on Marie's car and on the front yard, then Haruka and TMK take the limo back to her hotel. Marie tries to talk to her father but he ignores her until seeing her car - the microbes have written "Marie, why are you so cold to us?" in French on the windshield and on the lawn.

(Marie in the family's wine cellar.)

This breaks the stalemate, and Marie and her family reconcile, and she agrees to help in picking the grapes (which mostly consists of setting up a lunch table along the side of the road and encouraging the two older men to work harder). They also agree that rather than compete with the big boys for Pinot Noir wine, that they should try making upscale grape juice. With grape juice, Marie's father is much happier about being involved in the estate's day-to-day operations. Marie's older brother, Pierre, stops by to help with the picking, too.

(Haruka happy on a starlit night.)

At the hotel, Ryouta's been having flashbacks. When he and Haruka were children during a party, the two of them had snuck out back of her father's house and she'd tried talking Ryouta into climbing a tree. Her father interrupted them before Ryouta could do anything, yelling at her about what would have happened if the boy had slipped and hurt himself. But it was an embarrassment to him, and Ryouta's been smarting from it ever since. When Haruka arrives in the room, he's roasting at a low burn, saying that with all of the humiliation at the B&B, being forced into the marriage by her father, and then being ignored on the trip, he's had enough of her and her father making a fool of him. He prepares to take a swing at her. While, out in the hallway, the guys in black suits share a laugh with TMK, saying "I knew you weren't Mexican" and "I thought that tourist couple was you". The door opens and someone inside the room calls for help. It's Haruka - Ryouta has collapsed. Tada tells her to keep back - he can see a norovirus on the body.

(TMK - Our heroes in France.)

The doctor arrives and proclaims that Ryouta just has a mild attack of gastroenteritis, he should be fine by morning. In the room, as he lays in bed, recovering, he says that he's always been struggling to keep up with Haruka. He's always been "trying to climb that tree" in his head, but not succeeding. He knew that they probably wouldn't be a good couple, but could never get the courage to say it out loud. He agrees to abort the wedding, and Haruka finds TMK out sleeping on a couch in the lobby to say that she wants to return to Japan. Back in Tokyo, Prof. Keizo goes on a long discussion of cheese, then asks what TMK brought back for him. Misato says that they forget to buy anything, and Keizo goes running out of the room crying.

(Haruka, on first meeting our heroes in France.)

In Aya's bar, Hazuki, Mutou, Misato and Kawahama are talking to Aya. TMK was able to bring back free wine, which they pass around as souvenirs. Unable to sleep on the flight, Tada is napping at home, and Kei has been sent to get him. Haruka was to come back on a separate flight, first class, and MK expect she's still in Paris living it up. But, Haruka picks that moment to enter the bar, and is mobbed by Mutou and Hazuki, who sob that they missed her. Then the two girls attack MK because Haruka mentioned that she'd gotten covered in mud then not taken a bath, and the girls blame MK for being pigs.

Kei and Tada arrive as the part-time bartender is putting a sign out saying that the bar is closed for a private party. Haruka is seeing Kei in drag for the first time and comments on how cute he looks. She asks if he's thought about trying a white outfit, since Tada liked white. She asks what happened to Marie, and Kei says "who's Marie?" When Haruka answers "a French girl that looks just like you", Kei KO's Tada with one blow. Then apologizes that it was instinct taking over. Haruka laughs, saying that the research team is funny. They're surprised because she's never liked them before. Then she tells Aya to open up one of the bottles from France, and Misato and Kawahama go into a blind panic.

(Ryouta loses it.)

The volume ends with the microbes trying to talk about the 20th anniversary for singer-songwriter Tamio Okuda, but they're interrupted by some yogurt cultures that want to talk about how they've contributed to Okuda's success, since they think he eats yogurt sometimes. They then discuss Okuda's 2008 album release, and the music of his first band, Unicorn. The second omake section starts out with "when you talk about France, you're talking about wine, and when talking about wine you're talking about France. Is that really true?" The microbes then mention that California has been winning global awards for wine for years, which pisses off the French. Marie is especially upset, and she raves until the end of the section.

(A bacteria that shows up on one of the Moyashimon picture books, to be reviewed later.)

Notes: The microbes are having a field day in this volume. Among other things, the Japanese yeast smuggled over in the miso paste get a chance to mingle with the French wine yeast. One of the Japanese yeasts tries to explain the vagaries of French wine and the fact that you can't be expected to buy great wine simply based on price. The eventual consensus is that your only choice is to find an experienced wine dealer and ask him/her for their recommendations. The Japanese yeasts also enjoy repeating "bonjour" over and over to each other.

Summary: This series just keeps getting better. Highly recommended.

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