Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles is about a teenage girl who loves noodles. Like, really loves noodles. You’d better love noodles too if you pick up this manga about a petite yet voracious foodie who’s utterly obsessed with ramen.
The story begins with overly friendly Yu following her new classmate Koizumi to the line forming outside a ramen shop. Yu is shocked that “Ms. Koizumi” would frequent such a place after school, but in an effort to get closer to her classmate she finds herself sitting at the bar and staring down a mountainous bowl of double pork ramen. Ms. Koizumi isn’t especially happy to have a ramen novice tagging along, but Yu hopes they can learn to be friends through their new shared interest.
Dispelling any possible concerns along the lines of, “How much of this manga is actually about ramen?” the manga throws itself into culinary authenticity. Ms. Koizumi could easily have treated its subject matter as nothing more than the backdrop for a slice-of-life manga featuring cute girls. Instead, it goes full-bore into the gritty details as if readers were taking a combined cooking and biochemistry course instead of reading a simple comic about girls eating ramen. It’s partly done as a gag, but also genuinely informative whenever Ms. Koizumi rattles off a page’s worth of ramen trivia, dealing with everything from the regional variations on broth and oils to the secret menu at a Hawaiian McDonald’s. At the very least, you’ll learn something halfway interesting in each chapter to impress people the next time you go out for ramen.
At this point you may be thinking, “Okay, but they have to talk about something besides ramen.” You would be so wrong and perhaps walking into this without the right mindset. Ramen culture in Japan is complex. As much as the characters in Ms. Koizumi talk about ramen without end, they still only skim the surface on the topic. At the expense of having characters with greater depth than basic gag manga archetypes, Ms. Koizumi goes all-in on covering details of ramen that people with a casual interest in the dish may not appreciate.
Ms. Koizumi is about one thing and one thing alone, and you better bring a healthy appetite while taking mental notes about all the kinds of ramen in existence. The manga takes its ramen fixation to extremes, raising the question of whether the artist can maintain this level of passion in future volumes. One thing is for certain: expect to be hit with a deep craving for a hot bowl of ramen after reading Ms. Koizumi.
publisher: Dark Horse
story and art: Naru Narumi