So, we all know that Food Wars! aka Shokugeki no Soma was explosively popular and rightly so! But did you know that back in 2004, there was another cooking manga called Kitchen Princess? It actually sold pretty well in America; its 10th and final volume made it onto The New York Times manga bestseller list. However, Kitchen Princess has never reached near the same popularity as Food Wars!, but I think it’s just as good. So, today, I’m going to share with you 5 reason
Kitchen Princess is the shoujo version of Food Wars aka why I think you should read it.
1) The Main Character
Let me introduce you to Najika Kazami, a happy-go-lucky, orphaned 13-year-old who’s always been searching for her “flan prince”. In typical shoujo romance style, she’s been searching for a boy she met and fell for as a child but whose face she can’t really remember. But how is she like Soma? you ask.
Well, for one, she’s an absolutely amazing cook who’s never been formally trained but gets lots of practice at home, who gets admitted into a special academy based on the director’s recommendation, and who must prove herself at said school through her cooking abilities to the elite students. Also, her parents are famous chefs and she likes to experiment with food. Sound familiar?
2) FOOD FIGHTS!!
Or cooking wars, if that’s what you prefer to call them. Either way, it’s a competition to determine who is the best chef! It happens less in Kitchen Princess because that’s not the main focus of the manga, but Najika does enter a cooking contest, has a bake off with a professional chef from a famous French restaurant, and has a cook off with a fellow student to determine who is the best!
3) Light hearted fluff turns dark and serious
Our beloved Food Wars! series starts off with a series of intense yet silly battles over who has the best cooking skills, which include lots of snappy comebacks and literal food-gasms. But when Azami Nakiri comes into play, we see the past child abuse of Erina, and he turns Totsuki Academy from a place of competitive creativity into what the other characters describe as a culinary dystopia. In Kitchen Princess, the manga starts out with Najika having fun cooking, trying to make friends, and struggling to find a place in the elite school, but that’s normal in shoujo manga. What’s different about Kitchen Princess is that we see characters seriously struggle with, among other things, body issues, eating disorders, and the death of loved ones.
4) Insanely specific cooking narration
We’ve all seen how excited characters get about food in Food Wars! and how much pleasure they take in explaining how genius the cooking process they used was. Like Alice Nakiri and here molecular gastronomy, to name a random example. Well, thanks to Najika Kazami and chapter 1 of Kitchen Princess, I learned that the “perfect” ingredients ratio for flan is 20% egg, 65% milk, and 15% sugar…even though I’d never even heard of flan before reading this series. Granted, Najika likes to talk about cooking more because she loves food and feeding people more than to explain her own genius, but we get food lessons all the same.
5) Rainbow Food!
Not the most important of similarities to be sure, but it is a fun one. In Food Wars!, the adorable Megumi Tadokoro made the Rainbow Terrine that supposedly overflows you with joy at feeling Megumi’s kindness. In Kitchen Princess, Najika makes a rainbow jelly with her own feelings of kindness. It’s her solution to trying to help two brothers get along better and to trying to help them with their food problems: one doesn’t have a big appetite and the other doesn’t have a lot of time to eat. So, she makes something quick to eat and easy to digest.
So, that’s my list of 5 reasons Kitchen Princess is the shoujo version of Food Wars! Just remember, it doesn’t have an anime counterpart, so you’ll have to read it to experience the magic.