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Manga / Gohan no Otomo

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Everyone needs to eat, regardless of their age, background or status. This allows food to unite the unlikeliest people together, and there is no greater joy in life than to share a good meal with loved ones.

Gohan no Otomo (ごはんのおとも), which can either be translated as "Rice and Friends" or "Side Dish Which Matches Rice Well", is a seinen Slice of Life manga that follows a recurring cast of loosely connected characters who frequently bumps into one another, and explores how they face their day-to-day challenges.

The series is written and illustrated by Tana, and has been published as a two-volume Tankobon from Feb 13, 2015 to Nov 18, 2016.

The series provides an example of:

  • Bait-and-Switch: In chapter 1, Tabuchi spends the first half of the story getting nagged by various people to get a girlfriend. Then, while shopping in the convenience store, he bumps into a girl and seemingly falls in Love at First Sight with her. He takes a day off later, and quickly rushes from the office, presumably to meet her. But as it turns out, he was simply interested in the recipe the girl was reading, and couldn’t wait to try it out.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Kuma showing kindness to the girl that would become his wife in her time of need becomes the basis of their Happily Married relationship. Kuma offers her food and a towel while she's crying after getting dumped by her boyfriend, while she is the first person who finds his Crazy-Prepared tendencies amazing instead of weird/creepy.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Despite his best efforts to dislike his baby sister Niko, Ichita couldn’t help his protective instincts when he notices a suspicious stranger staring at her. And, of course, when he does try to get along with her, he immediately gets suckered by her cute charms.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Downplayed, as the series' muted colours makes the contrast less obvious than most examples, but Mai and her two friends Tomo and Noe have different-coloured hairs that are obviously meant to be brunette, blonde and redhead (or auburn), respectively.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Dai and Suzu have known each other from kindergarten all the way to middle school, and they are obviously interested in each other. However, they seem to have different social circles at school and are almost never seen directly interacting until chapter 17. Still, they are familiar enough with each other to be on First-Name Basis, as Suzu's grandparents know Dai's parents well.
  • Comfort Food: The whole point of Chapter 3, where the unnamed main character is having a bad day, and starts craving for nametake (enoki mushrooms cooked in soy sauce) to make himself feel better. When his quest to buy the food actually make things worse, he is eventually treated to his cravings by Kuma, giving him not only the food he wants, but also some friends, and a regular place to eat.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Kuma is a mundane example. Since he was a child, he has a habit of carrying around various knickknacks that could come in handy, but most people wouldn’t bother with. This includes bringing spare umbrellas despite a sunny weather forecast, first-aid kits, spare towels, handkerchief, compass, magnets, and just about everything else. As an adult, he owns a bar/restaurant that can serve whatever food cravings his customers have, including sweets and snacks not usually sold in a diner, like cotton candy.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Many of the characters that gets featured in later chapters have been introduced as cameos in earlier ones. For example, the girl Tabuchi whom ran into in the first chapter is Mai, who would see her limelight in the second chapter. The regular customer who frequents the Daifuku mame store Mai works at is Nametake, who stars in chapter 3, and Mai’s professor would be re-introduced in chapter 7 as Kuma’s wife.
  • Ensemble Cast: The series has a number of recurring characters who gets A Day in the Limelight in different chapters, but there's not a single character who can be considered the central protagonist.
  • Food Porn: As expected of a series that revolves around food, the dishes are drawn in mouth-watering detail. The full-coloured pages makes the food depicted look even more appetizing.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In the final chapter, Sayu tells Suzu about Dai ogling at her and grouses about her friend's obliviousness. She herself is oblivious to Dai's friend ogling her until the guy actually comes up to her and gives her food, finally revealing his interest.
  • In Touch with His Feminine Side: Nobu the café owner is described as gentle and big sisterly, and is good at styling hair. A flashback shows how he likes to wear pretty hairbands as a teenager, and he has to pretend he's buying it for his (non-existent) girlfriend when the shopkeeper asks about it.
  • Iyashikei: Each chapter features various character simply going through their day-to-day life and finding a spark of joy and comfort in a simple, yet well-cooked meal.
  • Numerical Theme Naming: Ichita and his baby sister Niko are named after the numbers one and two, respectively.
  • Older Than They Look: Kuma's wife looks like a much younger woman, despite being older than her husband, to Nametake’s surprise.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Several of Kuma's regular customers are given nicknames based on their Trademark Favorite Food (e.g. Nametake, Scallop, Barley and Marsh), while their actual names are never really brought up.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Suzu currently lives with her grandmother, and a flashback shows that she's been staying with her grandma and grandpa (who has passed away) since she's in grade school. She's even described as a "grandpa's girl" rather than a Daddy's Girl.
  • Sweet Tooth: Marsh is nicknamed such for his love of marshmallows, and would usually order sweets when he's dining at Kuma's.
  • Technologically Blind Elders: The main guy of chapter 5 is an elderly man who can't seem to get a hang of using the home computer and angrily storms out of the house when his daughter gets impatient teaching him. He then meets a group of other old geezers at the cafe, who mention that they're not adept at technology either, and usually leaves the handling of such items to their children. This drives the guy to learn about technology, and by the time he reappears in Chapter 9, he's comfortable enough to use a smartphone.
  • Twice Shy:
    • The opening volume and end-of-chapter illustrations feature a pair of teenagers (later named Dai and Suzu) who are constantly ogling at the other while they aren’t looking, but would quickly look away when the other turns back.
    • Likewise, their respective best friends (Sayu and Dai's unnamed friend) seem to have started developing interest in each other but they interact even less than Dai and Suzu due to their divergent social circles.