Hatsukoi Lunch Box (初恋ランチボックス)
By Nao Kodaka
While reading Hatsukoi Lunch Box, I would get hungry because they made really yummy, savory dishes and desserts. At the end of every chapter, Nao Kodaka provided step-by-step, do-it-yourself instructions on how to make the meals that they talked about in the manga. I thought that was pretty cool because you can make and share some delicious and creative lunch boxes (bento) with your friends.
Hatsukoi Lunch Box is about a girl named Sae, who has the habit of helping others confess their feelings to their crushes. With the assistance of Yuuki and Shiori, Sae helps each person by creating a delicious and creative bento that expresses his or her love to someone.
One of the questions I had for this manga is why use food as a way to confess your love to someone? I could only assume that the topic of food is a great conversation starter among strangers. Also, making or creating something by hand best demonstrates how much you care for someone. When creating something homemade, it is safe to assume that you put in some thought about them into your creation.
Furthermore, this manga reconstructs gender roles. Cooking seems to be identified as a feminine trait in society. At first, Yuuki’s dad disliked the idea of his son becoming a chef, instead he rather have Yuuki be the heir to his company. Nao Kodaka seems to break this old way of thinking by allowing a boy to have an interest in cooking. In addition, Sae is a girl who doesn’t know how to cook (which goes against the social norm for women), but she loves to eat. As a result, she gains an interest in pursuing a career as a food coordinator. Through her career choice, a reader could assume that Sae is pursuing a more ambitious path by planning to own a business as a woman rather than being a housewife or stay-at-home mom.
Hatsukoi Lunch Box is a fun read. It makes you want to go into the kitchen and start cooking some appetizing and creative meals. Like I said before, after every chapter, Nao Kodaka provides recipes, you can do at home alone or with your friends. So, happy reading and happy cooking!