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Goin’ Japanesque!

”Moyashimon”: A Pioneer Agriculture Manga on Strange College Life, Fermentation & Bacteria

In the manga world of Japan, agricultural theme has been increasing in recent years.

In the country of Japan, where manufacturing is the principal industry, agriculture may still be a little known area.

This time we are introducing “Moyashimon (Tales of Agriculture)”, a pioneer work that has established the genre of “agriculture manga”.

 

Synopsis

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“Tadayasu Sawaki Souemon” has special abilities to see bacteria with the naked eyes and even communicate with them.

He has entered a certain College of Agriculture with his childhood friend Kei Yuuki, where his grandfather’s friend, Professor Keizo Itsuki works.

This story depicts slapstick college life of his and his friends’ along with interactions among the people who work with fermentation.

 

Characters

1. Tadayasu Sawaki Souemon

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Tadayasu is the main character of this story, and a freshman of School of Agriculture.

His name is very long, and the part “Souemon” represents his family’s “yago (trade name)”, and this is an old Japanese custom.

Usually he goes by “Tadayasu Sawaki”, omitting “Souemon”.

He grew up in a long-established family of “tanekouji-ya”, and the trade name still remains in his name.

“Tanekouji-ya” is a profession that cultivates bacteria of “kouji (rice-malt), which is used in the production of Japanese sake, for example.

He is the main character, but he is indecisive and in addition, the shortest person among the characters.

2. Kei Yuuki

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He is a childhood friend of the main character Tadayasu, and a son of a sake brewery.

Taking a leave of absence from the college for unknown reason at the beginning of the story, he disappears from the story once. However he reappears cross-dressed as a seductive girl in black gothic dresses.

Considered as a gay and girlfriend of Tadayasu by the people around them, he has been denying it.

3. Keizo Itsuki

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He is a professor of the agricultural college and a friend of Tadayasu’s grandfather.

This story starts when Tadayasu visits Keizo to greet him after being admitted to the college.

Keizo holds extraordinary passion for bacteria, and once the conversation turns to the topic, he keeps talking endlessly.

His real age is unknown, but he has apparently been researching bacteria since World War II.

Thus he must be quite old, but he has high motivation and is proactive in his research.

4. Haruka Hasegawa

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Haruka is a graduate student of the college and a trusted assistant of Professor Keizo Itsuki.

Her family is wealthy to the point of owning a private jet, and she herself is a beautiful woman with a good figure.

However she is foul-mouthed and violent despite being a daughter of a rich family, and she often uses the whip on people.

5. Kaoru Misato

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Kaoru is a sophomore of School of Agriculture in the College of Agriculture.

He has long hair and beard, and one of those “bad senior students” that always appear in a college life story.

But he cares about junior students, and he takes good care of Tadayasu and others while complaining verbally.

6. Takuma Kawahama

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Takuma is also a sophomore of School of Agriculture.

He is chubby and another “bad senior students”, common in college life stories.

He loves insects.

7. Hazuki Oikawa

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Hazuki is a freshman of School of Agriculture of the same college.

She is severely obsessed about cleanliness when she initially appears in the story, and armed with a disinfectant spray.

She appears in the story as if she was dragged into it, but she somehow becomes a part of the regular characters.

8. Aoi Muto

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Aoi is a junior of School of Agriculture.

She is the only student of the seminar Professor Keizo Itsuki’s laboratory offers.

She is beautiful and elected as the Miss College of Agriculture, but she pays little attention to such aspect of hers.

She loves drinking and she is sometimes drinking during the daytime.

 

Analysis

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This work takes up an unusual subject of fermentation as a theme.

This story revolves around fermentation, a process that benefits human beings, in multiple subtopics such as sake, artificial compounds, etc.

In this general frame work the student life at college and youth stories entangle, the latter being playful and almost contrary to the former. The readers can feel as if they were in the place where the story is taking place together with the characters.

 

There were many stories before this work that took up the theme of agriculture.

But other works did not convey the pleasure, struggle and knowledge involved in agriculture as deeply as this work, and the genre of “agricultural manga” was established after this piece.

This does not mean this piece has a stiff atmosphere, and it is basically a slapstick that depicts college life troubles involving the characters.

 

“Moyashimon” has been adapted for a live-action drama and anime, too.

The film version covers the beginning to the middle of the story. In the middle of the story, however, the story in the original manga’s departs from the school setting to an international arena, including USA and Europe.

This manga allows you to learn about how fermentation is used in various countries, too.

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Berial the Demon

About the author

It has been over 40 years of reading manga in the deep world of manga. Japan’s manga has an endlessly wide variety of genres. I will be recommending special manga for you to read from such infinite amount of works.

View all articles by Berial the Demon
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