Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Moyashimon, vol. 7, review

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

Moyashimon, Vol. 7 - Grade: A
The scene opens with the microbes getting ready to explain the importance of eating certain kinds of foods that have healthy bacteria, such as yogurt, when an e.coli culture cuts in and asks if it's ok for them to say this. The e.coli try to convince the Lactobacillus yogurti microbes that with Japan's plan to officially designate yogurt as "healthy food", the Lactobacillus yogurti are going to have to change their name to something much longer and harder to pronounce. Hopefully that would lead to people not eating yogurt any more, making it easier for the e.coli to take over. The Lactobacillus yogurti switch into dodge ball mode and pulverize the e.coli.

On campus, Keizo is descending some steps down into a cellar from the lab, enjoying a nice cup of yogurt. Hazuki drops by to say "hi" and notices that the door is open and lab is empty. She's just about to go down the stairs when the commotion behind her distracts her. Haruka is in a rage, whipping Misato and Kawahama for spreading rumors on campus that she'd been on a date in France. Turns out that it was actually Aya who was at fault, and the group has to keep Haruka from going after her. Keizo shows up on the street so Hazuki can't go exploring after all.

Keizo announces the latest assignment - Haruka, Mutou, Misato and Kawahama are to go into the new brewery room and prepare soy beans for making soy sauce, which consists of boiling and hauling several hundred pounds of beans. Kei, Hazuki and Tada are to join Keizo in visiting a sake brewery to drop off some rice and observe the new stills they have there. At the sake brewery, Kei is overwhelmed by the idea of using such beautiful machinery.

They also swing by the Hiyoshi sake shop to view the completed renovations. Kei had eliminated the cheap beer and wine, which can be found in any convenience store, put in new doors, and changed the lighting. Rather than try to compete by selling rare and expensive sakes, his idea is to address sophisticated drinker's tastes by finding the perfect match for each customer. To help with this, he wants the younger Hiyoshi to travel Japan and send back one recommended sake per week. The younger Hiyoshi is dismayed that his grandfather also wants him out of the shop and on the road. The younger man is given a backpack and told "see you in a year!"

Grandfather Hiyoshi permits Kei to paint the name of the shop up on the new storefront sign, and Kei immediately, unconsciously, starts out spelling his own name. Which he then "x"s out and continues with "Hiyoshi Sake".

Back on campus, Mutou is covered in sweat. Hauling large trays of boiled soybeans is hard work. Misato and Kawahama are also drained. Hazuki notices that the place where she'd seen the door before is now just blank wall, then convinces herself that it was her imagination. Haruka sends her to get some starter yeast from her desk in the lab upstairs. After Hazuki returns, Keizo tells them that the process, and the yeast, for making soy sauce is actually very similar to that for making miso and nihon-shu (Japanese sake, as compared to shochu). And as such, they have to prevent outside contamination of the fermenting soy beans, so they all have to take turns watching the mash for the next few days.

There's a long explanation of the process for making soy sauce, and the different kinds of related sauces around the world. There's a mention of "light" sauce compared to "dark" sauce; two rival fermenting processes which produce sauces of lighter or darker shades, but equally strong flavors. And, after being added to the mash, the yeast microbes go crazy in a mass charge over the "battlegrounds" (there's a joke about the yeast replaying Sengoku, or "the Warring 3 Kingdoms", period in ancient China.

Kei, in goth-loli form, is just about to close up the sake shop when Yuu Kaneshiro and her grandfather walk up. They'd decided to visit Tokyo from Okinawa on the spur of the moment, and forgotten to buy gifts to hand out. They ask if Kei's willing to keep the store open a little longer for them.

("For you about to ferment, we salute you!")

The yeast recreate a scene from "Hamburger Hill", then describe the next step for making soy sauce. The boiled beans are allowed the cool, then packed into cones (or cakes). The outer wall of the cone protects the yeast at the inner core. Afterwards, the cones are broken up and put into tubs of water to continue fermenting. The POV switches to that of the humans, who are starting to rebel against Mutou (she's trying to push the rest of the group to make cones of bean paste faster, and they want her to join in on the work).

Yuu and Kei arrive at the lab, and the group abandons Mutou to talk to their friends. Yuu wants to meet this boy, "Yuuki" who supposedly looks like her, but "Yuuki" is missing. Kei introduces himself as "Hiyoshi" (no first name), and the rest of the group goes along with him on it. Grandpa Hiyoshi calls Kei on his cellphone - Grandpa Kaneshiro and Prof. Keizo have arrived at the tasting bar, and the old man wants Kei to help serve the drinks. Yuu and Mutou get into a drinking battle, with Mutou passing out while wearing Kei's headpiece. When Kei leaves the lab, Hazuki tries chasing after him with the headpiece, only to find that he'd disappeared suddenly. Hazuki suspects that there's a hidden door in the lab, and is upset that everyone is keeping secrets from her.

Hazuki grabs Tada and drags him across campus. They go to the library in the middle of the night to research the history of the school grounds. But, there were too many tunnels dug in Tokyo before, during and after the War to be able to track down any given one. They give up and return to the lab in the morning. Later, Yuu shows up wearing Mickey Mouse ears, and she gushes about having visited Disney Tokyo. She's covered in dust and sweat and wants to take a bath, but the main bath in the lab is closed off. Hazuki convinces Misato and Kawahama to let them use the big public bath located in the 2nd Year men's dorm. Of course, all the men there are desperate to peak in through the windows, and are upset that TMK (Tada, Misato and Kawahama) are standing guard with baseball bats. The men run en masse outside to look through the outer windows, and suddenly find themselves falling through a sink hole in the front lawn. They blame TMK for digging mantraps to stop them.

Hazuki and Yuu get dressed, and Hazuki realizes that the hole is part of a tunnel that may run back to the secret door in the lab. She gets Tada to use the light on his cell phone to follow the tunnel, while she stays above ground and parallels his path back to the lab. Sure enough, the tunnel ends at the secret door. The next morning, MK force Tada to talk, and the three of them try to puzzle out how to make the door open. Hazuki is happy that she's not the only one that doesn't know the secret of the tunnel door. Prof. Keizo had seen her outside the night before, and he's not happy that everyone's abandoned the soy beans to go traipsing about. He finds Hazuki alone in the lab, and gives her a lecture about the next step in the soy sauce process, which consists of adding a different mold to the liquid to alter the fermentation and eliminate the alcohol building up.

(Discovering the hidden tunnel running under the campus.)

Haruka comes back from having spent a few unpleasant days at home, and sits next to Misato out in front of the lab building. She'd just had dinner at a French restaurant, and the food didn't compare to what Marie had made for them. Thinking about it, she enjoyed her time in France with TMK, and she wants to treat them with a meal of their choice, plus drinks. Hasegawa mentioning drinking puts Misato into a blind panic. Yuu takes this moment to try to lock up the door, and Haruka and Misato run into the building out of embarrassment. Hazuki then asks Haruka about the secret door, and even Keizo's primary researcher knows nothing about it.

(Making miso versus shoyu (soy sauce).)

Tada mentions the 7 "big rumors" that every campus has, as told to him by Aya. The group starts speculating about what Keizo had done during the war, and the suspicion that there's something "evil" in the tunnel grows. Hazuki also needs a change of clothing, and she borrows a leather outfit from Hasegawa. Leather and chains look good on her, and the rest of the group calls her "leader", and as leader, Hazuki declares that they should explore the tunnel.

Surprisingly, Keizo had forgotten to close the door this time, and it's standing wide open. The group hesitates over going into the darkness, so Hazuki has Yuu dress up in Kei's goth-loli outfit to imitate him, and orders Yuu into the tunnel. A few minutes later, Yuu backs back out, with the real Kei and Keizo following her up the stairs. Confronted by the unruly mob, Keizo explains what's been going on - he's using the constant temperature of the tunnels to brew his own beer, with Kei's help. Additionally, old man Hiyoshi had originally been a brewer before opening up his sake shop, and he'd had the tunnels dug to connect his shop to various customers around campus. The main tunnel entrance comes up beneath the sake store.

(Yuu and Yuuki)

Hazuki is crushed. She'd thought that she'd found something interesting, and the result is that she now looks foolish. Tada decides to let her in on his own secret, and shows that he can see the microbes growing in the miso fermentation room. Hazuki doesn't believe him, but thanks him for cheering her up, anyway. Then it's time for Yuu to go back to Okinawa. As she's being seen off at the gates, she comments that both the Hiyoshi girl and Kei Yuuki are missing, so she's a bit miffed. Then Kei walks up sans goth-loli outfit, as a guy, and introduces himself to Yuu. The group is stunned to see him "naked" and just keep staring at him. Kei gives Yuu a bottle of the sake made by his family back home (Kei's family owns a sake brewery), and then Yuu is gone.

The omake section at the end has the microbes describing how to make mirin (a kind of Japanese cooking sake).

Summary: You should know by now - Prof. Keizo's team makes soy sauce and discovers his hidden brewery. Highly recommended!

No comments: