This manga simply describes how Gorou Inogashira, the main character, chooses and takes a meal. Unlike other gourmet manga, Gorou likes to eat at cheap restaurants and no trivia on cuisine is given. The authors are trying to depict the essentials of the act of "eating" by Gorou's monologue, which comprises most of the lines of this manga.
Kodoku no Gourmet is a very important manga of it's genre. The focus on food and the man enduring hunger himself do not get scrutinized, but thoroughly diverged into a path where every comment, monologue, and detail are considered. This masterpiece is not for the careless thinker, where self consciousness has no fret. It is not the most exciting manga either. Despite its action-packed counterparts, this manga is very tedious for the typical consumer.
The main character, Goro, being a private trader, has opinions that may label him as a lone wolf. His inner belief where food should be independent for any struggles, as if
it were a separate entity, is without notice. The restaurants he visits are not for a man of his stature. It is assumed that he has more than enough earnings to go to a higher quality establishment. The question is left without answer, but with some reflection it is clear that these eateries have an important imprint on his character.
Importantly, this mangas most fascinating detail is the fact that everything is casual. Comfort, as if it were a soothing tea, cycles through your mind as you read this manga. The compelling assessments of food are revealed as Goro takes each glance, bite, and gulp of the food. His prowess of taste is almost supernatural, taking in subtle hints of each drop of flavor. Taste is not the only main factor of his introspection, but as his senses consider the following on his perspective as a middle aged working class man are astonishing. Each example of his place on the social ladder of sorts turn out to be an hypothesis on his questioning. "Why is everyone around me wearing a hat?" He may ask.
As a fan of this manga, the self-examination of myself in the place of Goro are nearly identical as if I were watching a video of myself. I would recommend this manga to anyone that has a good expectation towards self improvement. This is a short manga but feels like a story in every chapter.
Taking a lone lunch is not a quiet and boring thing. As Goro does, we talk to ourselves and pay attention to the other customers. Especially when we drop by an unfamiliar cheap restaurant, we a bit worries about if there are any kinds of "customs" that we should obey. We are half nervous and half curious about what they gonna serve us. This manga makes me realize that "eating out" is full of fun.
While reading this manga, I find myself nodding to each line of Goro's monologue. He says "When I eat,
I wanna be free from any concern and, so to say, be sanctuaried." He cares about the act of eating, not the quality of the food. Even side dishes bought from a convenience store satisfies him as long as he is "at liberty".
Other "gourmet" manga, such as "Oishinbo", gives you tens of trivia in one episode. Kodoku no Gurume doesn't have such valuable infomation, but Goro's monologue stating his impression on what he is eating tells you something different: you can find excitements and surprises from a simple dish. A boiled spinach reminds him his childhood, taste of a sauce makes him wonder what a "boyish" taste is, and he regrets his pork-redundant order.
Being alone shapens Goro's mind and he notices something attractive, which usually escapes our attention: artifical taste of a juice, changes of scenery on a downtown street, a gigantic petrochemical complex, fresh air of a rooftop amusment center of a mall etc... I can share his feeling through his frank monologue and it leaves me some kind of confort.
Kodoku no Gurume is surely a masterpiece. Its uniqueness as a food-related manga, Goro's attractive character, Taniguchi's detailed and warm art, everything has contributed to the readers' appreciation of the enjoyment of "eating".