365 Days of Manga, Day 357: Moyasimon


MOYASIMON • Masayuki Ishikawa • Del Rey • 16+
Tadayasu is a freshman at an agricultural college, where students go on vegetable raids instead of panty raids, biodiesel-fueled tractor chug around the campus, and pig poop is a not uncommon sight. Keizo Itsuki, a doddering old mad scientist, is impressed by Tadayasu’s inexplicable special ability: Tadayasu can see bacteria with the naked eye, and to him they are charming little stick figures each with their own personality and shape, from the loveable bacteria-next-door like Aspergillus oryzae to the cheerfully homicidal e. coli. What follows is a series of school misadventures involving, not really agriculture in the sense of growing plants, but every type of brewing, fermenting, sake-making, yogurt-making and other sorts of microbial food-making. The modern overuse of disinfectants and obsession with “anti-bacterial” products is cheerfully mocked; “It’s a better idea to work with bacteria than kill them,” says Hasegawa, one of Keizo’s colleagues, a scientist whose personal quirk is that she dresses more for the nightclub than for the laboratory. Demonstrating deep, wonky knowledge of bacteria (much of it expressed in little microbe character sketches in the sidelines), Moyasimon also has a taste for the disgusting: the hapless Tadayasu ends up smelling or tasting fermented stingray sashimi, Alaskan kiviak (bird carcasses left to ferment inside a dead seal), caterpillar fungus and many other questionable edibles. (“You know how at campsites, the filthy, cramped men’s bathroom has just one long urinal trough? I feel like I just picked up a piece of toilet paper that’s been stewing in there for a few weeks and put it in my mouth.”) Ishikawa sometimes errs on the side of too much info, resulting in pages and pages filled with text, and not so much in the way of plot or character development in the macroscopic human world. Nonetheless, it’s an imaginative mixture of the cute, the gross and the educational.
*** (three stars)
I’m back from my vacation, and 365 Days of Manga is continuing for just over one more week! Here are the winners who won while I was away, who I couldn’t announce: Amber B. and Matt H. of Ohio, Michael G. of Maryland, Jamie N. of California, and Trey M., Ihsaan H. and Leslee A. of Pennsylvania. Congratulations! As many people discovered when they tried to sign up for the manga contest the last few days, the contest form was temporarily broken over the weekend, but has just been fixed. Go now to graphic-novels-manga.unboundworlds.com and sign up on the right-hand side of the page (you may have to scroll down a little) for a change to win some free manga!
And now back to the other half of the contest: showing the faces of manga readers/winners around the U.S.! This photo was sent by Trang N. — thanks for sending it in! Prepare to receive more manga!

  • Claudia

    looking for a win… cant wait

  • Anna Frohling

    I just bought Moyashimon this week.. I had the same feeling about it but I will be looking forward to more. 🙂

  • Nasime

    I absolutely love Moyashimon. Any news on when the the third volume will be out or up for pre-order?

  • Dan

    i’m with nasime – am really itching for the third volume. thanks del rey!

  • Jay

    Third volume please!!!

  • Tie

    Boyfriend and I are both anxiously awaiting volume 3. Please release it soon!

  • Xaviara

    I stumbled onto this manga at the library when I was in desperate need of a book and loved it. The characters are really unique, and the concept is pretty cool. I don’t know much about agriculture or fermentation (and never wondered before reading this) and I really like how the story actually teaches, too.
    A while later some cute guys were talking about different kinds of alcohol fermentation processes and I regurgitated some of what I had read in the book and they thought I was super smart. ^^

    Now I’m on book two and it says for American readers to say “hey” so I figured I would. Keep up the good work, Ishikawa-san!

  • tom

    Hope to see vol 3

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