Manga-ka: Ryoku Tsunoda
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: August 2009
Synopsis: “Eight years ago, Kaoru Miyagi was a struggling bartender with only a middle school education, until a kind benefactor took him under his wing and gave Miyagi a job at Tokyo’s classy “Tachibana” restaurant. Enter Kasuga – a new chef from a sister restaurant, who takes an immediate, enthusiastic liking to Miyagi. Why should Miyagi pay any attention at all to someone as immature as Kasuga? Unless… the impulsive chef has answers about Miyagi’s past that could point to a future beyond his wildest dreams!”
With many likeable aspects of Ryoku Tsunoda’s previously released, Where Has Love Gone?, there was plenty to look forward to in another of her one-shots. While Exotic and Delicious Fate doesn’t work as neatly as a one-shot as the previous it still proved itself a charming piece of short-term entertainment.
Exotic and Delicious Fate follows a young man named Kaoru Miyagi who holds a well valued role at the Tachibana restaurant where he’s been employed since middle school. It seems a day like any other until he meets the new chef hired temporarily to the kitchen: the waste-no-time charmer Kusaga who is immediately, and openly, smitten with Miyagi.
Though the book feels a bit lacking in the beginning, faltering with an uneven sense of pace that seemed to jerk its focus around, it doesn’t take too long for the story to finds its stride. Kasuga, the new guy in the kitchen, wastes no time in making his intentions clear to Miyagi which kicks the boys’ love into swift effect. Despite his forward-nature however, Kasuga goes at Miyagi’s pace so the growing relationship between the two is pleasantly sweet over unwillingly strained.
Kasuga’s hounding also sows a different kind of seed in Miyagi in regards to the same sex, leaving him questioning how he looks at the kind-hearted Kazuki, the man responsible for Miyagi’s initial hiring. These conflicted feelings bring a refreshing angle to the story in a genre that rarely seems to feature those kinds of affection for older men.
But, things are not just about love in the work place and it becomes apparent mid-way through the book that there’s an ulterior plot brewing amidst the hesitant gazes and passionate sex scenes (which come as a bit of a surprise considering the 16+ rating). Having never known his father, Miyagi becomes the focus of a rumour that his long lost relative may be closer than he thinks – and it seems that Kasuga coincidentally knows something about it. The eventual conclusion to this bit of drama ends up being more satisfying than the issue itself, which feels a little shallow, and it brings about the book’s end with fluffy results, albeit with a few unanswered questions that leave the one-shot status of the book feeling a little cold.
Never the less, Exotic and Delicious Fate is a nice, laidback read, and though it may not prove exceptionally memorable to readers after the fact, it still makes for a worthwhile read. The sex scenes are sensual and successfully sexy while the characters balance being likeable, amusing and emotional without ever succumbing to being overbearing on any of the abovementioned features. Ryoku Tsunoda’s attractive art style serves as icing on the cake for this welcome addition to any boys’ love collection.