Moyashimon Chapter 12 Summary

It's been a little over a year since volume 11 came out for my favorite manga about yeast and all things fermented. We were left with the question: "Who is Madoka Nishino and why does she hate sake?" Volume 12 is dedicated to that answer.

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Moyashimon, vol. 12, by Masayuki Ishikawa, Grade: A+
The manga starts out a few days prior to the end of the Nodai Beauty-Ouster Pagent, when Kei was focused on the production of his new batch of sake. The yeast walk us through the early steps of the fermentation process, and describe the historical methods used during the Edo era. Finally, we're brought up the present, where Kei, Tadayasu, Mutou and Misato see Madoka Nishino working part-time at a konbini. She's approached by several members of various clubs trying to recruit her, but she surprises everyone by saying that she's already committed to joining Prof. Keizou Itsuki's fermentation research group. Tadayasu notices that she has a specific yeast variant riding with her, and asks why she's joining the sake group if she hates sake so much. Madoka whispers that she wants to meet him that evening, alone. Tada waits until 5 PM, and Madoka shows up to make her big announcement - she's decided that she's going to marry him to take advantage of his ability to see yeast (which Keizou had revealed to her). Tada tries to protest, but Madoka is very strong-willed and keeps calling him "darling". She talks him into visiting her house, and they take the train out towards the end of the line.

(Inside front cover, advertising the beer fest last year.)

Turns out that Madoka comes from a family of sake brewers, and the house is part of a centuries-old factory. But, most of the tanks are empty. Madoka takes Tada to one barrel where there's still a batch of active yeast. She asks for his opinion, and he answers that they don't look as energetic as normal. Her father shows up and Madoka introduces Tada to him as her future husband. The scene shifts to the university campus, where the group is surprised to see Tada walking in from the entrance gate with Madoka in tow. There's a bit of a confrontation between Kei and Madoka, as Kei tries to defend modern Japanese corporate branding practices as being beneficial to the industry as a whole, while Madoka accuses them of putting smaller factories out of business and misleading customers by putting big-name brewery labels on cheaper sake produced by no-name families. Eventually, she's asked what her goals are, and she says that she wants to be someone suited for entering society when she gets out of high school. She runs off, and Tada follows her.

(Madoka (left) asks Kei if he knows about the industry's practice of deliberately mislabeling sake from unknown producers using famous brand labels.)

Madoka goes to Aya's bar, where she and Tada just drink juice and talk to Aya. Some of the salarymen customers give her a hard time, and when she asks what it means to be an adult, they insult her more. Aya can't answer either, and when Madoka leaves the bar, she watches one of the "adults" leaning against a wall and puking his guts out. After various interludes over the New Year break, Madoka gets into a fight with Mutou and Misato, and Keizou berates his older students for disappointing his efforts to bring the girl into their lab. However, Tada sees this as an opportunity to help her. Kei, Hazuki, Madoka and Tada take the train out to her factory. Along the way, Nishino tells them that her father had pegged his main product on her when she was a child, calling it "Madoka". "Madoka" looked like it was about to become very popular, but the factory was undermined by the big sake companies, and her father had reacted by emptying all of the tanks into the drains. At the time, her grandfather had told her father to "act like an adult", which is why she's now trying to figure out what that means,. However, when she first brought Tada to the factory, her father had told her that she's too immature to decide on a husband at her age. He decided to reveal a secret - he's working on making another sake: "New Madoka", which he'll sell to one of the industry giants to be mislabeled as one of their existing sakes.

(Madoka's father)

Tada's decision now is to do what Madoka had asked of him at the time - help topple the tank of "New Madoka". The four of them get to the factory, and use a crane to do just that. Her father rushes in at the noise and is devastated at seeing his hopes flowing into the sewer. Madoka tells him that he needs to refocus, and that she wants to help him to make a new future for both of them. Her father ultimately accepts the situation and tells her that she's lucky - no one had come to his aid when he had had his crisis, but she's got her friends to support her. Madoka's surprised to hear someone say that Kei and Hazuki are her friends. Back on campus, Aya, Misato and Mutou are trying to find an answer to "what it means to be an adult", and are failing miserably. They're in university, but don't feel any more mature than when they were in high school. Misato thinks that university is the last stage where they can do whatever they want before having to enter the straitjacketed world of adults. Hasegawa, back from her trip to Hawaii, laughs at the thought of Misato grown up and in a business suit. However, one of the teachers hears them talking, and comments that even most adults don't feel "adult". The story culminates with the team visiting Madoka at her part-time job and saying that none of them can respond to her question about being an adult, but they're all willing to work together to find their own answers. She's free to ask any question she wants, so she starts by asking if Kei is a guy playing dress-up, and if Misato secretly likes Hasegawa. The group yells about the stink she's raising just as Kawahama arrives to say that he's back from Mexico.

(Image on the pages at the bottom of the book. I think it's a mochi shrine used at the beginning of the new year.)

The last few pages return to the yeasts' viewpoint, with some more discussion of different sake production and consumption methods.

(Regular cover, taken from Amazon.)

Many of the Moyashimon volumes have regular and special edition releases. This time, the special edition has different cover art (see above) and comes with the Moyashimon Fermentation Dictionary.

This is a 72-page booklet that pretty much covers every kind of food (alcohol, cheese, pickled vegetables, miso, soy sauce) mentioned in the series. Entries are accompanied by artwork from the manga, some of which is recycled from earlier chapters, and there's volume and page numbers if you want to see where in the story a particular food showed up. It's going to take me a while to go through the entire thing, but I'm pretty happy that I spent the extra $4 for it. Highly recommended.

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