I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
Hanayu is the daughter of a pastry chef, and it seems guaranteed that she'll one day inherit her parents' bakery. The problem: Hanayu wants nothing more than to become a sushi chef. She's obsessed with fish and making sushi. She decides that the only way to achieve her dream without disappointing her parents is to marry the son of a sushi chef. Then she meets Hayato, the only son of a sushi chef. Hanayu works to improve her skills in the kitchen in the hopes of catching Hayato's eye, but when he finally does ask her out, she feels confused and guilty. Is he really interested in her? And, if he is, how does she feel about that? Do her ulterior motives for dating him mean she's a bad person?
Okay, first off, I should mention that the description of the back of the volume contains a spoiler. While this annoys me, I can sort of understand why VIZ did it. Komura's plotting is not the best, and so this volume doesn't even cover the series' full premise.
While volume 1 wasn't bad, it wasn't terribly exciting. Hanayu basically only did two things, aside from her Culinary Arts Program assignments: obsess over ways to convince Hayato to want to marry her, and feel guilty for lying to Hayato about her feelings for him. Neither Hanayu nor Hayato were very interesting characters, and Hanayu's deep obsession with sushi was sometimes a bit much.
Hanayu deciding that marrying the son of a sushi chef was the best and only way of achieving her dream was kind of bizarre. If Hanayu had tried to tell her parents about her dream and had been shot down, it would've been one thing, but, as far as I could tell, she'd never even done that much. I couldn't help but wonder if the manga's entire premise would go down the drain if she just took a deep breath and actually talked to her parents.
For a food manga, there isn't much in the way of food porn so far. The Culinary Arts Program's first big assignment is to cut a cucumber into 80 transparent slices. Their second big assignment (or, more accurately, make-up exam) is to bake a sponge cake and decorate it. The second assignment had great potential for lovely food images, but the cakes don't actually get baked until the next volume. The first assignment resulted in a thank-you cake topped with cucumber jelly, but, other than that, this volume was woefully lacking in good-looking food drawings. There are a few interesting cooking-related details here and there, though – I liked the little bit about chefs' knives becoming shorter over time as they get used and sharpened.
All in all, this was a “meh” first volume. Not bad, not good, just “meh.”
Is it just me, or does it look like Hayato is missing his right arm on the cover?
There are full-page comic-style author's notes after each chapter, short author's notes at the beginning of most of the chapters, a couple pages of translator's notes, and a 3-page bonus comic.
The author's notes weren't terribly interesting, but I'd like to go into a bit more detail about the bonus comic and the translator's notes. The bonus comic deals with Matsuzaka-sensei (the Culinary Arts Program director). A fan in Osaka wanted to know what Matsuzaka-sensei's gender was. When I first started reading the volume, I assumed he was a she, but then revised my opinion after a male pronoun was used to refer to him. The gender confusion bonus comic came as something of a surprise to me, because the translator's notes didn't bother to mention that the pronoun was the translator's choice. The translator's notes are almost entirely devoted to covering food-related terminology.
(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)