Rei Koyama is a girl with both an appetite for desserts and for adventure. After landing a permanent contract with an ad agency, she finds that life in the office is full of temptation.
With the sweetly suave Morimoto and a surly co-worker called Kuze on the menu, Rei begins to wonder if taste can change and if opposites really do attract. Sugar or spice? What’s a girl with a sweet tooth to do?
Hana Aoi whips up a selection of sexy stories that that have one thing in common sizzling romance!
Am I a Ladys' Comics (aka redikomi) philistine? Or is it that I cut my teeth in adult manga on the works of the formidable Moyoco Anno? Nevertheless, I seem to find that the majority of translated Ladys' titles to fail to satisfy me. However, I do enjoy titles that feature cooking and thus I was quite looking forward to Love for Dessert.
Food culture is big in Japan. The exacting standards and passion of food culture is infused into the elegant couture of titles such as Antique Bakery and fired into the madness of Yakitate Japan!! Love for Dessert, however, left me woefully short-changed on the pleasures of pudding. In the title piece Rei has a habit of devouring a bowl of whipped cream for dinner. This was for me, much like the experience of reading the story. Instead of being treated to the rich sweetness of devouring a fresh cream éclair, it was as though I had swallowed fluffy synthetic cream topping before really having any chance to savour any flavour it had to offer.
Yes, there is the clever insinuation that the whipped cream is the vital ingredient for the steamy sex games that ensue but for me whipped cream on its own is a but one thing, a bland and unsatisfying mass.
Whipping cream is an art in itself; whip too much you get a coagulated and grotesque mess, work it too little and your satiny sweetness will soon fall apart. Aoi's female protagonists are plucky and bright and have their sights set on sweet and sensual romance. While these forthright girls have no qualms about getting whisked into bed, something about the way the stories plays out totally undermines this façade of confidence that begins to slump like an undercooked soufflé.
The novice cook and the novice manga author often have something in common, that without natural aptitude, they are usually easy to spot.
As with other titles I have read in this genre, short story collections are often a mixed bag of early works that are hampered by the author's inexperience. This is something that they often (and quite readily) acknowledge themselves in the afterword. It makes me wonder why so many of these titles filter through the translation net while some of the great legendary ladies' works are left behind. While an early short story collection from an established author makes a great deal of sense to me (particularly as fans already have confidence and interest in the author they are reading) when more and more greenhorn works like this appear on the market, savvy readers are likely to demand more from their erotic manga.
While redikomi may sell themselves on the appeal of mature content, readers should be aware that their writers may not have been at the time. In the end, these collections stack up like so many misadventures of youth, some of which are better best forgotten.
Yet I feel as though I have been too hard on Aoi and it is unfair to neglect the finer points of her piece. Her female character designs are cute and their eyes glimmer with the sparkle of candies and nonpareils as they dream of romance.
It's certainly not a hopeless effort (quite the opposite as it shows the growth of the author over just a few stories) and I have no doubt that Love For Dessert has charm enough to delight a few romantics. Readers with more exacting tastes, however, might do well to skip out on this after dinner sweet.