Not Love but Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy

Created by: Fumi Yoshinaga

ISBN: 0759531870 (Amazon)

Pages: 192

Not Love but Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy

I recently wrote about Kingyo Used Books and how much I wanted to really like the series but found myself constantly disconnected by its references to comic book series that not only had I never read but series that were entirely unavailable to me as a reader on American shores. The book was amusing enough but there was no real point of contact with the characters as they have their lives affected in meaningful ways by manga. Certainly I can understand that a book might offer some catharsis or personal breakthrough if experienced at just the right period in one’s life, but that’s nearly as oblique as saying things that happen can be meaningful to the people they happen to. Without sharing in the specific honoured cultural artifact (in Kingyo's case, a particular comic), it’s all too abstract to be engaging.

So I was worried when I picked up Not Love but Delicious Foods Makes Me So Happy and found that it was a non-fictional collection of restaurant reviews by Fumi Yoshinaga. I feared, I think understandably, the very same disconnect that governed my experience of Kingyo. I was concerned that what might be a good book would remain beyond my ability to ascertain. Fortunately, Not Love is more than just a celebration of Tokyo restaurants that I will never have the opportunity to set foot in.

Not Love but Delicious Foods Makes Me So Happy by Fumi Yoshinaga

While it’s true that in every chapter food is sampled at a particular restaurant and then that restaurant is discussed in terms of dishes, cost, service, and ambiance, the book is really about Yoshinaga herself. Or maybe it’s about Y-naga. Fumi Yoshinaga’s in-story analogue is F-mi Y-naga—and she introduces herself like so:

Not Love but Delicious Foods Makes Me So Happy by Fumi Yoshinaga

I’m not sure where the fact and fiction begin and end with Yoshinaga’s depiction of herself, but I’ll just roll with what the reader is given. Y-naga is a mangaka who mostly draws yaoi (comics about handsome young men romancing handsome young men). She’s a bit of a slob, but she’ll dress up well (I guess) in order to go out for dinner at a nice place. Because there is one true love in Y-naga’s life: food.

Not Love but Delicious Foods Makes Me So Happy by Fumi Yoshinaga

So far as a book of restaurant reviews, Not Love is fascinating because Y-naga only visits restaurants she adores and so never has anything bad to say about any of them. Instead, she rhapsodizes over each dish and tries to force her dining companions (which usually include her longsuffering assistant, S-hara) to love food as much as she does. Her foodie experiences, as Yoshinaga reports them, are more an opportunity to see Y-naga’s dysfunctional, perverted personality on display. And that’s why Not Love is such a fun little book—despite the fact that I cannot connect with the restaurants (or, let’s be honest, the dishes) that make up the backdrop of Y-naga’s disaster of a life.

But really, though the book builds Y-naga up as a social calamity and makes it pretty clear that she’ll probably never find love, it seems equally clear that she might not even need romance. I mean, it’s even there in the title. She’s a foodie’s foodie. Dining plays surrogate for her passions and though she exhibits a kinky appetite that remains starved, she still functions as a whole person, despite her lack. Food really does seem to satisfy her. At least mostly.

Not Love but Delicious Foods Makes Me So Happy by Fumi YoshinagaA Goukon is basically a speed-dating event.

I enjoyed Not Love but Delicious Foods Makes Me So Happy far more than I expected because the book was not what it seemed. Instead of boring, it was crazy. The end.


Good Ok Bad features reviews of comics, graphic novels, manga, et cetera using a rare and auspicious three-star rating system. Point systems are notoriously fiddly, so here it's been pared down to three simple possibilities:

3 Stars = Good
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I am Seth T. Hahne and these are my reviews.

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