The author of Mogusa-san, one of my favorite manga in recent memory, has a new series out. Kozuma no Kobito no Kenshin Recipe by Ootake Toshitomo tells the story of a down-on-his-luck salaryman named Oomori Shizuru and a 15-cm tall pixie named Mint, who shows up with the intent of becoming Shizuru’s wife and cooking him delicious meals. The series, whose title translates roughly to My Pixie Wife’s Recipes of Devotion, combines two things Ootake has focused on in his relatively short manga career: exquisitely drawn food and oddball romances.
One big change from Ootake’s other manga—Mogusa-san, Mogusa-san Fights Against Appetite, and Teasobi—is that Kenshin Recipe isn’t published under Shueisha’s Young Jump label. Instead, it’s serialized in the web-only Comic Gamma Plus, which is under Takeshobo: a publisher arguably most famous for its mahjong magazines and manga. Essentially, the Takeshobo audience tends to skew older, and this is evident just from Shizuru being 27 years old instead of a high school or college student. However, Kenshin Recipe’s focus on cuteness means it’s not nearly as horny as many of its Comic Gamma Plus peers.
The highlight of the series thus far has to be the cooking scenes. Mint is around six inches tall, yet she has to use Shizuru’s human-sized cookware. Kenshin Recipe shows the way she gets around this: by casting a disinfectant spell on herself and doing everything from headbutting eggs to utilizing fire-resistant clothing to climb inside a frying pan. Ootake knows how to draw food and make it look good, and this provides a perspective on dish preparation that’s both fun and different.
Mint is the linchpin of the series, and while she’s no Minori Mogusa, she has her own unique charms. Putting aside those who are really into fairies and/or wives making home-cooked meals, one thing that stood out to me was Mint’s reasons for wanting to marry Shizuru in the first place. Having long observed him from afar as he left work every day, his sad figure at dusk made her want to protect him. It’s simple and silly, and even has a bit of wish fulfillment thrown in, but I rather enjoy the bit of agency given to the pixie.
There are plenty more opportunities for absurdity, and I’m eager to read more of Kozuma no Kobito no Kenshin Recipe. Based on Ootake’s past works, though, the truly entertaining parts are going to come when he introduces an expanded cast. It’s his strength with ensembles that brings his work from good to great.