What Did You Eat Yesterday?

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What Did You Eat Yesterday?
What Did You Eat Yesterday? v1 cover.jpeg
The cover of the first volume of the manga, featuring Shiro Kakei (left) and Kenji Yabuki (right).
きのう何食べた?
(Kinō Nani Tabeta?)
GenreCooking,[1] slice of life[2]
Manga
Written byFumi Yoshinaga
Published byKodansha
English publisher
DemographicSeinen
MagazineWeekly Morning
Original runNovember 22, 2007 – present
Volumes15 (List of volumes)
Television drama
What Did You Eat Yesterday?
Directed by
  • Kazuhito Nakae
  • Katsumi Nojiri
  • Kenji Katagiri
Produced byMasashi Abe
Written byNaoko Adachi [ja]
StudioShochiku
Original networkTV Tokyo
Original run April 5, 2019 June 28, 2019
Episodes12 (List of episodes)
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and manga portal

What Did You Eat Yesterday? (Japanese: きのう何食べた?, Hepburn: Kinō Nani Tabeta?) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Fumi Yoshinaga. The slice of life series focuses on the relationship between Shiro Kakei and Kenji Yabuki, a middle aged gay couple living in Tokyo, Japan. The manga has been serialized in Weekly Morning since 2007, and was adapted into a live-action television drama by Shochiku that aired on TV Tokyo in 2019. Both the manga and its television adaption have received widespread critical acclaim, winning a Kodansha Manga Award, a Galaxy Award, and multiple Television Drama Academy Awards.

Synopsis[edit]

What Did You Eat Yesterday? follows Shiro Kakei and Kenji Yabuki, a middle aged gay couple living in Tokyo, Japan. Each chapter in the series focuses on Shiro and Kenji as they encounter a particular comedic or dramatic scenario, often focused around issues of domestic life, workplace humor, and LGBT rights in Japan.

Many of the chapters depict a sequence in which Shiro, a gourmand, purchases food and prepares a meal for himself and Kenji. Shiro narrates the steps to create each dish through his internal monologue, and frequently prepares meals that have significance in relation to the plot or themes of the chapter. The collected tankobon editions of the series contain the recipe for the main dish prepared in each edition.

The events of the series progress in real time: Shiro and Kenji were respectively 43 and 41 years old when the series began, and as of chapter 101, are 52 and 50 years old.

Characters[edit]

Primary characters[edit]

Shiro Kakei (筧 史朗)
Portrayed by: Hidetoshi Nishijima[3]
A serious and reserved lawyer. At the start of the series, he is 43 years old and living with Kenji, his partner of three years. Shiro's defining character traits are his love of cooking and his frugality: he took a job at a small law firm so that he can leave promptly at 6 o'clock each day to cook dinner for himself and Kenji, delights in purchasing food on sale, and keeps a strict household budget. He developed an interest in cooking while trying to lose weight in his thirties, and has consequently maintained a handsome and youthful appearance well into middle age.
Unlike Kenji, Shiro is less open about his sexuality, remaining closeted at work and keeping a distant relationship with his parents. Shiro frequently perceives himself as not fitting in with the gay community while simultaneously feeling out of place in straight society, expressing unease when he is perceived as gay in public. Shiro works through this internalized homophobia as the series progresses, improving his relationship with his parents and becoming more comfortable with being seen as Kenji's partner.
Kenji Yabuki (矢吹 賢二)
Portrayed by: Seiyō Uchino[3]
A cheerful and outgoing hairdresser, and partner to Shiro. He is skilled at managing difficult hairdressing customers, earning the title of "bomb disposal specialist" among his co-workers, and is promoted to manager of the salon in chapter 112. Previously, he worked as a busboy at a host club, where he used the nickname "Joe" in reference to Ashita no Joe.
In contrast to Shiro's stoicism, Kenji is sociable, campy in his personal style and sense of humor, and open about his sexuality. He has a distant relationship with his family, which improves upon the death of his estranged father (see Kenji-associated characters below). After he begins balding in chapter 78, he cuts his formerly permed hair short and dyes it blond.

Shiro-associated characters[edit]

Hisae Kakei (筧 久栄)
Portrayed by: Meiko Kaji[3]
Shiro's mother. In the manga, the shock of discovering Shiro's sexuality caused her to join a cult; she has subsequently become accepting of her son's sexuality, often to a fanatic degree, though she frequently confuses homosexuality and gender dysphoria. In the television drama, she is depicted as more reserved in her acceptance.
Goro Kakei (筧 悟朗)
Portrayed by: Kōtarō Shiga (episodes 1–5),[3] Ryôsei Tayama (episodes 11–12)[a]
Shiro's father. Though accepting of his son, he is largely ignorant in his understanding of homosexuality.
Kayoko Tominaga (富永 佳代子)
Portrayed by: Misako Tanaka[3]
A housewife and friend of Shiro's. They met by chance after purchasing and splitting a watermelon together, and bonded over their shared love of cooking and bargain hunting.
Tominaga (富永)
Portrayed by: Toshihiro Yashiba[3]
Kayoko's husband. His first name is never given.
Michiru Watanabe (née Tominaga) (渡辺 ミチル)
Portrayed by: Marin[3]
Kayoko and Tominaga's adult daughter. She lives near their apartment, and frequently visits.
Yoshie Uemachi (上町 美江)
Portrayed by: Atsuko Takaizumi[3]
The director of Shiro's law firm and expert in bankruptcy law.
Osamu Uemachi (上町 修)
Portrayed by: Chan Kawai[3]
Yoshie's son, and a lawyer at Shiro's firm.
Shino Koyama (片岡 志乃)
Portrayed by: Yurika Nakamura[3]
A paralegal at Shiro's firm.

Kenji-associated characters[edit]

Yu Miyake (三宅 祐)
Portrayed by: Makita Sports[3]
Kenji's manager at the hair salon, and former cosmetology school classmate. At the beginning of the series he is married with two children, though he and his wife eventually divorce due to his infidelity. He later moves to Vietnam, and promotes Kenji to be the salon's new manager.
Reiko Miyake (三宅 玲子)
Portrayed by: Kaoru Okunuki[5]
Yu's esthetician wife. Yu and Reiko divorce later in the series.
Kenichi Yabuki (矢吹 賢一)
Portrayed by: Bungo Uchida[5]
Kenji's estranged father, who appears only through flashbacks. He left the family while Kenji was still a child, returning irregularly to extort money from Kenji's mother Mineko; because Kenichi became violent during these incidents, Mineko was never able to formally divorce him. 20 years prior to the events of the series, the Yabuki family became aware that he was still alive after receiving notice that he had applied for welfare. In chapter 64, Kenji is notified by the police that Kenichi has died.
Mineko Yabuki (矢吹 峰子)
Kenji's mother, who runs a hairdressing salon in Saitama. While her relationship with Kenji became strained after he came out to her, they reunite at Kenichi's funeral and begin to rebuild their relationship.
Masae Yabuki (矢吹 政江)
Kenji's eldest sister. A hairdresser who lives in Saitama.
Chieko Yabuki (矢吹 智恵子)
Kenji's second eldest sister. While trained as a hairdresser, she works as a department store clerk.

Shiro and Kenji-associated characters[edit]

Daisaku Kohinata (小日向 大策)
Portrayed by: Koji Yamamoto[6]
A colleague of Kayoko's husband, who later befriends Shiro and Kenji. He is handsome and stern, but becomes docile around his partner Wataru. Works as a director for an entertainment company.
Wataru Inoue (井上 航)
Portrayed by: Hayato Isomura[7]
Kohinata's spoiled and high-maintenance partner. While Kohinata describes him as a "pretty boy like Gilbert," in reality, he is an unkempt slacker. Works from home as a day trader.
Tetsuro Honda (本田 鉄郎)
Portrayed by: Daikichi Sugawara[8]
An older gay man who manages several restaurants, and who is friends with Shiro and Kenji. As his parents are still living and he cannot marry his partner Yoshi, he asks for Shiro's assistance in adopting Yoshi as his heir so that he can pass his estate to him.
Yoshiyuki Nagashima (長嶋 善之)
Portrayed by: Bokuzō Masana[8]
Tetsuro's partner. A skilled cook who specializes in using organic ingredients.
Mami Mitani (三谷まみ)
Portrayed by: Rie Miyazawa[9]
An idol and actress. Long admired by Shiro, he meets her through a meeting set up by Kohinata.

Media[edit]

Manga[edit]

What Did You Eat Yesterday? has been serialized in Weekly Morning since 2007, and has been collected into 15 tankōbon volumes published by Kodansha. In North America, an English language translation of the series has been licensed by Vertical since 2014.

No.Japanese release dateJapanese ISBNEnglish release dateEnglish ISBN
1 November 22, 2007 (2007-11-22)[10]ISBN 978-4-06372-648-0March 25, 2014 (2014-03-25)[11]ISBN 978-1-93913-038-9
2 November 21, 2008[12][13]ISBN 978-4-06372-754-8 (SE)
ISBN 978-4-06-364744-0 (LE)
May 20, 2014[14]ISBN 978-1-93913-039-6
3 October 23, 2009[15]ISBN 978-4-06372-844-6July 15, 2014[16]ISBN 978-1-93913-040-2
4 October 22, 2010[17]ISBN 978-4-06372-942-9September 2, 2014[18]ISBN 978-1-93913-079-2
5 September 23, 2011[19]ISBN 978-4-06387-040-4November 4, 2014[20]ISBN 978-1-93913-080-8
6 May 23, 2012[21]ISBN 978-4-06387-116-6January 6, 2015[22]ISBN 978-1-93913-081-5
7 December 3, 2012[23]ISBN 978-4-06387-158-6March 31, 2015[24]ISBN 978-1-94122-022-1
8 December 3, 2013[25][26]ISBN 978-4-06387-271-2 (SE)
ISBN 978-4-06-362267-6 (LE)
May 5, 2015[27]ISBN 978-1-94122-023-8
9 August 22, 2014[28]ISBN 978-4-06388-366-4July 7, 2015[29]ISBN 978-1-94122-050-4
10 June 23, 2015[30]ISBN 978-4-06388-446-3May 16, 2016[31]ISBN 978-1-94299-324-7
11 November 20, 2015[32][33]ISBN 978-4-06388527-9 (SE)
ISBN 978-4-06-362316-1 (LE)
November 29, 2016[34]ISBN 978-1-94299375-9
12 October 21, 2016[35]ISBN 978-4-06388647-4August 22, 2017[36]ISBN 978-1-94505425-9
13 September 22, 2017[37]ISBN 978-4-06510261-9August 7, 2018[38]ISBN 978-1-94719410-6
14 July 23, 2018[39]ISBN 978-4-06512028-6December 31, 2019[40]ISBN 978-1-94719470-0
15 March 22, 2019[41]ISBN 978-4-06-514949-2
16 December 23, 2019[42]ISBN 978-4-06-517831-7

Television drama[edit]

A live-action television drama adaptation of What Did You Eat Yesterday? was announced in Morning magazine on January 23, 2019.[43] That same day, TV Tokyo announced that the series would star Hidetoshi Nishijima as Shiro and Seiyō Uchino as Kenji, with Naoko Adachi [ja] as screenwriter and Nakae Kazuhito, Katsumi Nojiri, and Kenji Katagiri as directors.[44][45] The series aired on TV Tokyo's Drama24 programming block from April 5, 2019 to June 28, 2019, with a 90-minute special aired on January 1, 2020.[46] Overground Acoustic Underground [ja] performed the series' opening theme song "Kaerimichi" ("The Way Back Home"), while Friends [ja] performed the closing theme "i o you".[47]

List of episodes[edit]

No. Episode Title Director Original airdate
1"Episode 1"Kazuhito NakaeApril 5, 2019 (2019-04-05)[48]
Shiro becomes upset when he learns that Kenji has discussed their relationship and sex life with one of his hairdressing clients.
2"Episode 2"Kazuhito NakaeApril 12, 2019 (2019-04-12)[49]
Shiro splits the cost of a watermelon with Kayoko, a local housewife, and they bond over their shared love of bargain hunting. Kenji is unsettled when he learns that Shiro buys bread from a woman he was in a relationship with when he was closeted.
3"Episode 3"Kazuhito NakaeApril 19, 2019 (2019-04-19)[50]
Kayoko's husband introduces Shiro to Kohinata, his gay colleague. Shiro learns that his father Goro must undergo surgery for esophageal cancer.
4"Episode 4"Katsumi NojiriApril 26, 2019 (2019-04-26)[51]
Goro's surgery is performed successfully. Over Christmas dinner, the origin of Shiro and Kenji's relationship is revealed through a flashback: they became friends after meeting through Shiro's then-boyfriend at a bar in Ni-chōme, moved in together after Kenji's apartment was damaged by flooding, and began dating thereafter.
5"Episode 5"Katsumi NojiriMay 3, 2019 (2019-05-03)[52]
Shiro's mother Hisae urges him to think seriously about settling down as he approaches old age, prompting Shiro to realize he knows little about Kenji's family. Shiro later visits his parents for New Year's.
6"Episode 6"Katsumi NojiriMay 10, 2019 (2019-05-10)[53]
Shiro takes on a female apprentice at his law firm. Later, he is later introduced to Kohinata's partner Wataru.
7"Episode 7"Kenji KatagiriMay 17, 2019 (2019-05-17)[54]
Shiro and Kenji go on a double date with Kohinata and Wataru. Kenji cares for Shiro after he catches a cold.
8"Episode 8"Kenji KatagiriMay 24, 2019 (2019-05-24)[8]
Shiro feels self-conscious after he and Kenji go to a restaurant with Tetsuro and Yoshi, an older gay couple. They later come to Shiro and Kenji's apartment, where Tetsuro asks for Shiro's assistance in adopting Yoshi as his heir so that he may inherit Tetsuro's estate.
9"Episode 9"Kenji KatagiriJune 7, 2019 (2019-06-07)[55]
Shiro buys himself and Kenji a pair of wedding rings so that Shiro will not be approached by single women at work events. Kenji's boss Yu admits to him that he has cheated on his wife.
10"Episode 10"Kazuhito NakaeJune 14, 2019 (2019-06-14)[5]
Kenji receives a welfare notice regarding his estranged father. Shiro's closeness to Kohinata makes Kenji fear that Shiro will leave him.
11"Episode 11"Kazuhito NakaeJune 21, 2019 (2019-06-21)[56]
Hisae and Goro ask to meet Kenji for New Year's. Shiro and Kenji invite Kohinata and Wataru to their apartment for Christmas dinner.
12"Episode 12"Kazuhito NakaeJune 28, 2019 (2019-06-28)[57]
Shiro and Kenji visit Hisae and Goro for New Year's, and later visit a cafe together.
13"2020 New Year Special"Kazuhito Nakae
Katsumi Nojiri
Kenji Katagiri
January 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)[9]
Kohinata introduces Shiro to Mami Mitani, an actress he has long admired. Wataru and Kenji unexpectedly bond while shopping together. Shiro is troubled when he discovers he has overspent on the household budget.

Other media[edit]

A spin-off yaoi dōjinshi series, Kenji and Shiro-san (ケンジとシロさん, Kenji to Shiro-san), has been published by Fumi Yoshinaga since 2015. The series depicts scenes alluded to in the original manga, as well as sexual encounters between Kenji and Shiro. Issues of the series have been released by Yoshinaga at Comiket.[58]

A cookbook featuring recipes prepared in the television drama, Official Guidebook & Recipes: What Did You Eat Yesterday? ~Shiro's Simple Recipes~ (公式ガイド&レシピ きのう何食べた? ~シロさんの簡単レシピ~), was published by Kodansha in April 2019.[59]

An exhibition featuring sets and props from the television drama, as well as reproductions of pages from the original manga, toured Japan in 2019. The exhibition was displayed in Tokyo from June to July, Nagoya from August to September, and Osaka in September.[60]

Reception[edit]

Manga[edit]

Five million copies of the Japanese edition of What Did You Eat Yesterday? are in print as of January 2019.[61]

The series has received positive reviews from critics, particularly for its realistic depiction of gay life in Japan, and is noted as being one of the first pieces of mainstream Japanese media to substantially portray a cohabiting gay male couple.[62] Writing for Manga Bookshelf, Katherine Dacey praised the series for showcasing "the realities of gay life in Japan depicted in such a matter-of-fact way," while not being "preachy or dreary."[63] Writing for ComicsVerse, Melissa Padilla cited What Did You Eat Yesterday? as a series that subverts typical LGBTQ manga and anime tropes, noting that it includes a "realistic depiction of a gay couple who are adults rather than high school or college students" and that it "tackles gay issues while still maintaining a leisurely, slice-of-life pace."[64]

What Did You Eat Yesterday? was a nominee for the inaugural Manga Taishō Award in 2008,[65] and a jury recommendation at the 13th Japan Media Arts Festival in 2009.[66] It has been listed for Book of the Year twice by Media Factory's Da Vinci, placing sixth in 2014[67] and fiftieth in 2016.[68] In 2019, the series won the Kodansha Manga Award for Best General Manga.[69]

Television drama[edit]

The 16th Confidence Award Drama Prize [ja] given by Oricon was awarded to What Did You Eat Yesterday? for Best TV Series and Best Actor in a Leading Role, the later of which was won by both Hidetoshi Nishijima and Seiyō Uchino.[70] The series was additionally awarded the July 2019 Galaxy Award, given by the Japan Council for Better Radio and Television.[71] What Did You Eat Yesterday? was the most-awarded series at the 101st Television Drama Academy Awards [ja] awarded by Kadokawa, winning Best TV Series, Best Actor in a Leading Role for Uchino (with Nishijima placing second), Best Screenplay for Naoko Adachi, and Best Director for Kazuhito Nakae, Katsumi Nojiri, and Kenshi Katagiri.[72]

Analysis[edit]

Portrayal of gay domestic life[edit]

Writing for Culture, Society and Masculinities, Katsuhiko Suganuma notes that the relationship between Shiro and Kenji is depicted as largely non-sexual, contrasting stereotypical media portrayals of gay men as hypersexual or sexually deviant.[62] Far from reinforcing equally permissive stereotypes of gay men as emasculated, Suganuma argues that by not depicting Shiro and Kenji's sex life, the series "intentionally ignores the expectations of the curiosity-ridden heteronormative public" to focus on the domestic lives of gay men.[62] Consequently, he cautions against interpreting What Did You Eat Yesterday? as being merely assimilationist or homonormative, arguing that it "provides readers with occasional instances of modification of gender and sexuality norms in contemporary Japanese society."[62]

Portrayal of masculinity[edit]

Xuan Bach Tran has noted that while cooking media featuring men in Japan typically foregrounds competition and pursuits of excellence, as in series such as Iron Chef and Oishinbo, What Did You Eat Yesterday? depicts cooking as merely a hobby and a necessity for life.[73] While Shiro embodies many of the traits of the "herbivore man"—he is unambitious in his career, and largely socially withdrawn—he falls out of this category through his love of cooking, and derives his masculinity from "self-care and expressions of selfhood".[73] Suganuma concurs in Culture, Society and Masculinities that as Shiro's utilitarian cooking style is neither archetypically masculine nor archetypically feminine, it "[distances] itself from a polarized gender binary."[62]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The television drama role was recast after actor Kotaro Shiga was hospitalized for a cerebral thrombus mid-production.[4]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]