Recipe for Gertrude 1

October 16, 2011

Nari Kusakawa – CMX – 2006 – 5 volumes

Has it really been a year and a half since CMX announced their end? Has it really been seven years since they launched? And I’ve been writing reviews at this website even longer than that? Why am I so old?

Anyway. I’m still a little sad about CMX closing, and I’ve still got a handful of volumes I haven’t read yet, and can’t bring myself to. I also keep picking up more and more series as they come in at work, and they are starting to accumulate. At this rate, I will have everything CMX published, and that will be a little sad. But for now, I really wanted to read The Recipe for Gertrude. It’s by Nari Kusakawa, who also wrote one of my favorite CMX series, Two Flowers for the Dragon. Gertrude is about demons, so I had very high hopes for it.

Gertrude is also clearly an older work than Two Flowers for the Dragon. In fact, I would guess it was one of her first. Sadly, it’s very messy story-wise, and I almost gave up after one chapter. It irons out some of the kinks by the end of the volume, and I’m hoping it finds its groove in volume two, but this volume was hard to get through.

The premise is sound. A demon named Gertrude was made by a kind of scientist-demon by stitching together the best parts of all the best demons. He recorded his methods in a book called The Recipe for Gertrude. Flash forward, and Gertrude the demon is hunted by other demons who want their body parts back. Also, Gertrude and others are after the Recipe. While evading capture and looking for the book, Gertrude runs into Sahara, a normal and perfectly happy girl. She helps Gertrude, and the two become friends.

But there are… some questions. For instance, Gertrude is being hunted by two other demons who look like patchwork stuffed animals. Why does Gertrude look like a regular boy, but these demons are different? Even more puzzling, apparently Gertrude has the ears of these demons, but Gertrude’s ears are human ears.

This is only the beginning. It’s often not clear what’s happening, especially in the early chapters, and there are a lot of puzzling logical problems.

But some of these issues resolve themselves as the volume goes on. I never got a good explanation for my questions about why Gertrude is different from other demons, but by the end of the volume, the actions in each chapter start making more sense. There’s also a little bit more to ruminate on when a relationship begins to develop between Gertrude and Sahara. It goes a step further at the end of the book when they actually find the “recipe,” and that could be all sorts of fun… or a “magic” cop-out. We’ll see. I like Two Flowers For the Dragon enough that I’ll read all five volumes of this, but I do hope it stabilizes into something fun. Nari Kusakawa does seem to have a knack for a light touch.

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