It’s been a while since I talked about a seinen manga. Not that I’ve turned into a fujoshi purist but I feel like if I start talking seinen manga again, I wouldn’t know where to start or to stop. As it is, my manga reading list has become lengthy and I honestly haven’t had the time to read a new title. And knowing my manga habits, I would read texts like voracious hungry manga monster who can’t get enough of one series or a genre.
However, thanks to a really long layover during my last research trip, I managed to load my tablet with a couple of manga I’ve been wanting to read. One of which was a curious title I’ve been hunting for the longest time. It has a mix of two of some of my favourite things in the world: food and foot to mouth to cuisine. Sanzoku Diary was an unexpected manga that got me hooked on something I didn’t quite expect I’d be captivated: hunting game and enjoying it for a meal.
Sanzoku Diary is a collection of Okamoto’s adventures in chasing after birds and boars in his hometown of Okayama. He does this every winter and with his trusty air gun and his fellow hunters, they shoot down their next tasty meal. He dedicates every chapter to his next game or his next hunting technique. After some while, Okamoto touches on some issues they encounter as hunters. Sometimes, he even makes an environmental remark.
I honestly didn’t expect that I would be hooked into reading this title. Okamoto’s art is very simple and yet he manages to capture his reader’s attention and engage them in his hunts. Sanzoku Diary turned out to be a fun and interesting read. Or maybe he got me with the eating bit. Or maybe he got me with the feature on game offal.
I have little knowledge on animals and such so I really enjoy Okamoto’s featured game in his chapters. I also love reading Okamoto’s strategies in getting his game, from traps and shots and the taxing wait to get that perfect kill. Lastly, and possibly the one of great interest to me, is Okamoto’s experience in gutting, cleaning, and eating his game. While, I don’t think I’ll ever even hunt game, reading his thoughts on the flavors and textures of game makes me curious to give even the lowly crow a try. As a cook, it also brings back my own joyous memories of cleaning and gutting fish or bird.
What I also find commendable about Sanzoku Diary is how it treats the subject of hunting. Seeing how Okamoto and his group carefully plan their hunt in order to give their game a respectable death, I can’t help but appreciate Sanzoku Diary’s effort in making hunting look like a respectable trade. Or the fact that it’s a sustainable form of lifestyle in the provinces. Not only that, they also raise some environmental issues, such as how animal patterns are changed because of our changing reality. And it achieves this without having to go on a full on lecture. Okamoto’s honesty about the world and his changing environment is refreshing to read in today’s onslaught of unwarranted social lectures.
That said, Sanzoku’s probably best for the meat lovers. Those who take issue with hunting would probably find this book interesting but would definitely have no sympathy for Okamoto. Not that Okamoto’s asking any to begin with. His selfishness appears in his honesty in admitting that hunting is something he enjoys and will always have fond memories of.
It’s a fascinating read and I don’t know if I’m really dead bored but given that I do have a load of manga in my device, Sanzoku Diary proves to be a worthy read during a long layover.
Sanzoku Diary by Okamoto Kentaro
Serialized in Evening
Published by Kodansha