Cooking on the boundary

This is not an exhaustive list.

I do not read a lot of light novels, primarily because I don’t enjoy the chatty tone, the one paragraph sentences, the self-indulgent internal monologues, the ellipses, …

Completely unlike how I’d write those. Those would be magnificent stories, such stories that Scheherazade would come back from the dead and ask for more.

I tried reading Hyouka [a slacker in high school gets caught in the winds of curiosity of the prettiest, smartest girl in class and solves mysteries] a few years ago. I discovered the anime, and didn’t dislike it [or perhaps was just unable to understand one of the stories – about a movie being made by the highschool movie club – long story, read the book], and went looking for the manga, which has very little translated. So, I went deeper into the rabbit hole, and ended up looking for the light novel.

It didn’t work for me.

However, recently I have started reading a few that form the source material for a few anime that I enjoyed. It is perhaps a function of my preferences, but a lot of these light novels seem to be in the voyage and return mode. (Since these are serials, the return part is not a given.)

Consider for example, the lovely anime/light novel Yojo Senki / Saga of Tanya the Evil (crunchyroll / Yen (Winter 2017-18)), where a salaryman (a corporate hatchet man), reincarnated as an orphan girl into a magical universe in the middle of a continental war for angering a god, fights back by joining the army while still a child and climbing the ranks. It is brilliant.

So, a lot of stories in alternate universes – war, historical, high fantasy, D&D, MMoRPG settings.

And, a lot of these are about food. Well, perhaps not primarily about food. There will be an overarching tale of the journey, but a lot of the details are about food.

Which made me think about other food/alternate world works. So, this is a partial list of food related manga, anime and light novels in alternate world settings. In no particular order.

  • Dungeon Meshi: (the leader of a group of dungeon raiders loses his sister (eaten by a dragon), and returns to the dungeon to rescue her; but lacking money for supplies, the team survives by hunting and eating the monsters in the dungeon)
    (dungeons, dragons, magic, food)
    (manga)
    (best everything ever)
  • Uchi no Musume no Tame Naraba, Ore wa Moshikashitara Mao mo Taoseru Kamo Shirenai:
    (If it is for my daughter, I might even defeat the demon king)
    (An adventurer finds an orphan demon girl and kinda adopts her, and she starts helping out about the inn where he lives)
    (dragons (or flying lizards), magic, food)
    (manga)
  • Tondemo Skill de Isekai Hourou Meshi:
    (lit: camp food (?) with an outrageous skill (?) in another world; standard translation: Regarding about the Display of the Outrageous Skill Which Had Incredible/Bullshit Power)
    (A salaryman (a lot of these seem to be targeted at the 25-35 salaryman bracket – says something about me) ends up getting summoned into a magic RPG world where his unique skill is access to an online shopping portal, which he uses to get food, which lets him form a contract with a mythical beast, which lets him travel through the land)
    (dungeons, dragons (rumoured in the early chapters – of which there are 300+ online), magic, food, person from another world)
    (web novel, manga)
  • Isekai Shoukudou: (Restaurant to another world)
    (Doors start appearing every Saturday around a sword & sorcery world, which lead to a western style (Youshoku) restaurant in modern Tokyo, which soon starts employing a demon girl and a …)
    (dragons, magic, food, person from another world)
    (novel, light novel, manga, anime)
    (it is better than my description makes it sound)
  • Isekai Izakaya “Nobu”:
    (The alternate universe bar, “Nobu”)
    (Completely unlike Isekai Shoukudou, a medieval style fortress town has a bar, whose back door connects to modern Japan; and completely unlike the demon king defeating papa story, the bar employs an waif from the medieval style town)
    (food, person from another world)
    (manga)
  • Honzuki no Gekokujo:
    (Ascendance of a bookworm)
    (A book lover, who gets crushed under a pile of books and finds herself in the body of a sickly five year old girl living in a dark ages style world, decides she needs books, and she will get them even if she has to start by making paper – mostly economics, but there is a fair amount of cooking and food in the series)
    (magic, food, person from another world)
    (web novel, manga)
    (so far, one of the best constructed worlds)
  • Kuutei Dragons:
    (follow the crew of airship that hunts mighty flying dragons – there is a parallel to whale hunting in there somewhere)
    (manga)

I am leaving out limited fantasy series like Moyashimon (a slice of life university story about a bunch of students that are kinda attached to a lab focusing on fermentation and which would have been perfectly ordinary, if only the main character didn’t have the ability to see microbes with his naked eyes).

I am also leaving out a lot of very good pure fantasy/historical series like Toriko (fantastic food in a Jump style shounen fight world), Flying Witch (Manga/Anime, modern Japan with witches – but they spend a lot of time talking about food), Nobunaga no chef (Manga/Drama, a modern chef ends up in the time of the warring states, and becomes the chef for Oda Nobunaga). I am also leaving series that I read a long time ago and now barely remember, like Dragon Recipe.

Eventually, this was the top of mind recall.

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