Chibylala14 Feb 28, 2013
Kitchen Princess, translated from Kitchin no Ohime-sama, is a shoujo manga written by Miyuki Kobayashi and drawn by Natsumi Ando that originally ran in Kodansha’s Nakayoshi publication from 2005 to 2008. In 2006, it won the Kodansha Manga Award for children’s manga.
The Gist: As a child, Najika Kazami loses her parents and is an orphan living in Hokkaido. Her grief consumes her until one day she is rescued from drowning by a young boy. He gives her a serving of flan and tells her she smiles when she eats something good. This is what her parents would want. Years later Najika treasures that memory and is in search of her “Flan Prince”, the name she’s given to the boy who saved her. As a memento from the dessert that day, she saved the spoon. It is her only clue. Using that, she signs up to attend Seiko Academy. There she becomes part of the “special class” due to her talent of absolute taste. You see, Najika can taste any food and be able to name the ingredients as well as replicate the recipe. Her struggles to prove herself in the new school are aided by the academy director’s two sons, Daichi and Sora. As Najika strives to fulfill her dream of making others happy with food, she continues to search for her “Flan Prince”.
The Characters/Romance: What some readers may not realize is that Miyuki Kobayashi wrote the story while Natsumi Ando drew it. Kobayashi knows how to write loveable characters and Ando really brought them to life. Najika is a sweetheart full of enthusiasm for family, food, and cooking. She cares very much for her home, Lavender House, and Hagio-sama who gave her a place to live and a family. She is able to make a place for herself at Seiko Academy because her thoughtful demeanor and consideration of others charms everyone who gets to know her.
Daichi and Sora are like night and day. Sora is more reserved and gentle, while Daichi is boisterous and outgoing. Yet the brothers make a great compliment to the lonely and homesick Najika. Her feelings for Sora and Daichi are reciprocated the closer she gets to them. Of course, Kobayashi writes a love triangle. But we are not limited to two love interests. No, half-way through the series Seiya Mizuno shows up to become the third. Three candidates for the “Flan Prince” – but which one is the real deal? I’m not a spoiler – so you’ll have to read the series yourself to find out!
The Art: Ando brings this story to life with her beautiful renderings of clothes, characters, and food. I especially appreciated Ando’s detailed food images. Just a warning, don’t read this story if you’re trying to diet. Every time I picked up a volume I wanted to eat something! A nice feature is the illustrated recipes at the end of each volume. They show how to cook whatever food Najika prepares in each chapter. What a treasure of a series this one is!
The Audience: Cuddly. The characters in the story are in middle school, so this is perfect for tweens and teens. I believe younger girls will really like Najika and enjoy the cooking aspect as well. Don’t think that it’s only meant for the younger set, however. I think older audiences will love this series as well.
The Media: Kitchen Princess is available in the states in 10 volumes from Random House. Originally published under Del Rey, copies are still available at some stores and online. A special light novel called Najika and the Angel Cake was also released after the conclusion of the series.
Kitchen Princess charms with it’s adorable characters, emotional story, and lavish cuisine. A feel-good manga that can be appreciated by younger and older audiences alike.