A brand new Shojo series has been brought over by Viz Media, this time called Komomo Confiserie. It’s from a mangaka (manga creator) named Maki Minami, who has had a few popular hits in the past decade. This is her most recent series, having officially ended back in December. The question is: Is it good?


Komomo Confiserie Vol. 1 (Viz Media)


Written and drawn by: Maki Minami
Translated by: Christine Dashiell

Komomo Ninomiya considered herself to be a princess when she was a little girl. Coming from a rich family, she was given everything she desired, constantly showered with love and praise from her servants and friends. She had a friend named Natsu Azumi, the son of a patissier (a person who makes pastries and cakes), who she used to rule over and have make her food that warmed her heart. Several years later as a teen, her family goes broke and loses everything, including her servants and friends. That’s when Natsu, now a famous pastry chef after spending several years in France, appears and offers her up a home and place to work at his own confiserie. However, it’s not going to be ideal for Komomo as Natsu has no plans to make things easy for her.

The first volume of Komomo Confiserie is a pretty good start for this series overall. It’s a manga that started off being just okay, but slowly got better as time went on as things changed. It follows a familiar and predictable beat, but the focus and characters are what keeps things entertaining. It’s delightful and funny, while not being overally dramatic or too heavy on the romance angle to start either.

Starting off with the story, it does feel like we have seen this type of tale before: former rich brat slowly becomes nicer and has a better realization of the world around her. The first chapter shows what she was like before and how she reached rock-bottom, while the remaining chapters (and I assume the series itself) begin her development into a better person. You watch as she fails, not fully understanding how things work and with her rich girl personality basically working against her at times, but also see how she grows and her fighting with Natsu. It plays out in a lot of the ways you would it expect to it to.


Komomo Confiserie © Maki Minami 2013/HAKUSENSHA, Inc.

That being said, none of that really hurts the manga all that much. Things are pretty good for the most part due to how Minami executes and focuses her story. The manga avoids being dramatic a lot of the time and moments when it seems like it is going to dive into that, it subverts it or makes the situation kind of goofy. Instead of heaviness, the manga instead focuses more heavily on developing its characters and keeping things funny and sweet. That’s not to say there isn’t any drama, but it’s not usually the focus. From personal experience, a lot of Shojo romance series always seem to go and focus in on the character drama a lot of the time (with some exceptions of course), so having the writer focus on characterization while also being funny really helps the manga stand out a bit more.

Speaking of which, let’s shift focus to the characters. Komomo Ninomiya is our female lead and has the most development in the book. She starts off as a rich brat trying to adjust to her new life, but still can’t get out of that mindset of who she used to be. It ends up alienating her from others and is the cause of why she can’t hold down a job. As such, it doesn’t make her too likable at first, but her attitude and desire to actually become a better person and worker at Natsu’s confiserie leads her to grow. Sure, she retains a lot of her rich girl traits, like wanting to be given a lot of things on a silver platter or her bluntness, but the combination of that and her drive to be a better person make her quite entertaining. Best of all, you do see this growth and change in her over the course of this book, taking a lot of the lessons she learned from Natsu and his friend, Yuri, to heart. The final chapter in the volume is a great example of her constant development, handling her new school situation and the girls in her class in a way that is quite nice and fitting. She is really becoming a pretty dynamic character so far.


Komomo Confiserie © Maki Minami 2013/HAKUSENSHA, Inc.

Then there is Natsu, our male lead. In some ways, he reminds me of Takumi from Maid-sama. He is always teasing or messing with the heroine and there’s a sort of possessive side to him in regards to her. However, unlike Takumi, he’s a tad more developed and his demeanor usually doesn’t cross over a creepy line. With Natsu, there’s actual reason and background given right away that explains his behavior. When he and Komomo were kids, she always used push him around or behave crappy towards him (like using him as a chair or biting his ear). Now that he is older and he is the one with the power, he finally gets to indulge a bit in messing with her and having fun while doing it (with one exception that nearly gets Komomo hurt). While seemingly mean, he’s actually not cruel about it and does seem to want to help her become a better person. He’s nowhere as developed as the protagonist and actions can raise an eyebrow, but there’s potential to him that I like.

As for the writing in general, it’s pretty good as well. The characterization is done well and even though there are not many people in the series so far (about four characters overall with any personality or full names), everyone does come across as memorable. The humor is pretty great and often leads to plenty of laughs and chuckles. Most of the humor is center around Komomo, whether it’s Natsu making fun of her or just how she reacts to things going on. For instance, there’s a great bit where she tells Natsu that she tossed out her old uniform and made a brand new one, a large gown-like apron that goes over a bigger dress. She starts asking him to buy her some lace to make it prettier, but his response is just to simply pull the apron part over her head and tie it up, trapping her in it. The best part with that is she barely even reacts to this, just rolling with the fact that her top half is now trapped in her apron after the shock wears off. Finally, there’s the romance and it’s rather forgettable at this stage. It’s clear that Natsu has some interest in her in some way and Komomo probably likes him (she mostly just likes him as a friend and a guy who makes her sweets currently). There’s some cuteness to it I suppose, but nothing that’s remarkable at this stage.


Komomo Confiserie © Maki Minami 2013/HAKUSENSHA, Inc.

The artwork is very nice as well. The layouts are put together well enough that story and sequence of events flow naturally and are easy enough to read. There’s the usual soft-filter, flowers, and sparkly bubbles in panels and pages seen in Shojo manga here as well. The characters look nice and drawn fairly well. Probably one of the best parts to the artwork are the expressions—Komomo’s in particular. She is a very expressive and lively individual and Minami’s artwork really brings her to life. Frankly, the character might not be as good as she is if the mangaka didn’t do such a good job drawing her.

Conclusion

Komomo Confiserie Vol. 1 is a solid start to a brand new Shojo series. Its plot is familiar in a lot of ways, but it makes up for it in its focus and its funny and lively main character. This is probably one of the better new Shojo series brought over here in a while, so definitely check it out if it sounds like it us up your alley.

Komomo Confiserie is available from Viz Media. Two other series created by Maki Miami, S.A and Voice Over! Seiyu Academy, are currently available an English as well. A series she was originally an assistant on, Chibi Vampire, is also available from Viz, but only digitally.

Komomo Confiserie Vol. 1 Review
Fun and developing main character.Nice focus on the characterization and humor.The writing and artwork are nice.
Bit formulatic and familiar in some ways.Some of Natsu’s behavior can be seen negatively.
8.5Overall Score
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