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Manga / Wakako Zake

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The protagonist in her natural habitat.

Wakako Zake is an ongoing manga series from creator Chie Shinkyu that has run in Monthly Comic Zeon since 2011. It follows 26-year-old office worker Wakako Murasaki as she indulges in her favorite pastime: going to various restaurants and/or izakaya bars and enjoying a nice meal by herself.

Wakako Zake differentiates itself from many other notable food-related manga with its utter simplicity. It doesn't have an central conflict, an overarching plot, or even a cast of significant characters outside of Wakako herself. It makes no special effort to be dramatic, educational, or comedic. It's essentially a Slice of Life Journal Comic centering around the pleasure of food and drink, as well as a character study of a young woman who's alone with her thoughts.

The series has been adapted into an Anime and a live-action Dorama. It also served as an inspiration for a Korean remake, Naege Geonbae (Cheers to Me).

The manga (and franchise in general) contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Author Avatar: Played with. Wakako's character design is somewhat based on the author's likeness (a decision based on the editor's suggestion), and the first volume's afterword shows that the author is likewise fond of food and drink, but there's no clear evidence that Wakako and the author share opinions or beliefs.

  • Catchphrase: Wakako's satisfied sigh, "pshewwww~", after eating a particularly satisfying morsel of food.

  • Comfort Food: Eating (and, in some cases, being comforted by) familiar foods is more or less the basis of the entire series.

  • Food Porn: As is par for manga involving delicious food, the drawings of food are much more lovingly detailed than the characters or backgrounds.

  • Journal Comic: Wakako Zake certainly follows the format of a Journal Comic, and the restaurants in the manga are based on places the author has actually visited, but the comics themselves are at least somewhat fictionalized.

  • Impossibly Delicious Food: Wakako is pretty good at making all her meals sound like this.

  • Iyashikei: Wakako Zake fits into this genre more comfortably than perhaps any other.

  • Nonstandard Character Design: Downplayed. Wakako is drawn slightly differently from all other characters — mostly in her large oval eyes — though this is likely to make her immediately distinct from surrounding incidental characters.

  • Obsessed with Food: Wakako is generally portrayed as a regular person who loves food, but some chapters certainly show that food and drink occupy a rather large portion of her headspace.

  • Once per Episode: Wakako's satisfied-sigh Catchphrase, "pshewwww~"

  • Slice of Life: Wakako Zake is all about the simple pleasures of day-to-day life; its focus just happens to fall on a character's culinary life.

Tropes unique to the Anime adapation include:

  • Sudden Eye Colour: Wakako's eyes are now a golden color and have actual pupils, as opposed to the solid black of the manga.

  • Vignette Episode: The entire series could serve as this, as it consists of 12 episodes that are only two minutes long apiece — about the runtime of a full-length anime episode.

Tropes unique to the Dorama adaptation include:

  • Adaptation Expansion: Each episode of the drama is about 25 minutes long, whereas the anime's episodes are two minutes, and the manga's stories are around 4-15 pages long.