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Friday, July 14, 2006

The Unbearable Radness of Project X

When I saw in Previews a few months ago that DMP--America's foremost publisher of wispy man-on-man love stories--was putting out an entire graphic novel based around the secret origin of Cup Noodles, I knew that it was something I wanted to have in my life. And like I said last night, it is mind-boggling.

So prepare yourself: You are about to experience the single greatest noodle-related comic book ever published.



The fact that Project X: Cup Noodle--or to use the full title, Project X - The Challengers: Cup Noodle - The Miracle of 8.2 Billion Served--even exists is mystifying. It is, after all, a 205-page graphic novel about the creation of a popular snack food, and I cannot for the life of me figure out who exactly the target audience is that they're shooting for.

Although considering that I bought it, I'm going to go ahead and assume that they're trying to hit the key "mid-twenties college dropout with a website and a weakness for the utterly absurd" demographic. Yeah, that seems about right.

The premise is, of course, patently absurd, but Tadashi Katoh--who is also apparently the creator of something called Teacher Ron's Magnifying Glass--just runs with it, creating an over-the-top tribute to the Japanese Salaryman that likens them less to cogs in the corporate machine and more to something along the lines of Riggs and Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon.

Except this is Japan, so the characters shout out the names of their cooking techniques while lightning crashes in the background.



And that is awesome.

Even better is Momofuku Andou, the president of Nissin Foods, who brought instant ramen to popularity in Japan after--and this is true--learning of its black market popularity in postwar Osaka. And according to the story, he became convinced of the marketablity of noodles that would be ready to eat from their own container after he tried to market instant Ramen in America and was met with blank stares from businessmen who couldn't figure out how to add hot water to a brick of noodles on a plate.

Which is odd, because I'm reasonably certain that we've had bowl in this country for quite some time, but who am I to argue with Project X?

Anyway, Andou spends the majority of the book sitting behind his throne imperiously, issuing complex orders like the necessity of adding freeze-dried shrimp to symbolize good fortune within a cup of instant ramen, and occasionally dropping some of the Mind-Blowing Secrets of Cup Noodle:



OH YES: The Cup Contains Time Itself. I defy you--defy you, I say!--to find any other snack food that is as convenient as Cup Noodle and also contains complete and utter mastery of the Fourth Dimension. IT CAN'T BE DONE.

Anyway, despite the setbacks of proper noodle cooking that are--I assure you--extensively detailed, up to and including the difficulties that a guy has with enjoying his new wife's cooking when he has to taste-test ramen twenty times a day, Cup Noodle eventually takes off. And you know what that means.






BONUS FEATURE: The Official Handbook of the Cup Noodle Universe


One of the additional features of the book--and surprisingly, there are quite a few--is a pictoral guide to the various forms of Cup Noodle that have been released over the years, which is actually pretty entertaining. Check it.



My personal favorites? 1990's undoubtedly x-treme Cup Noodle: Red Zone and, of course, D-Cup Noodle (second row down, right-hand page). Seriously, what's the deal there?

13 Comments:

Blogger Ragnell said...

I am in Awe of the Cup Noodles.

How does this hold up against a sentient albanian noodle that wants to take over the world for Noodle Appearances in comic books?

7/15/2006 1:49 AM

 
Blogger Cheeseburger said...

Do they discuss the evils of MSG ?

/maybe a little powdered sugar

7/15/2006 1:56 AM

 
Blogger Brandon said...

The awesomeness of this post just caused a little part of my brain to die. You know, that part which prevents you from spending $12.95 you don't have on weird, food based niche comics.

Zagnut bars my friend. Zagnut bars. One bite will transport you to a realm beyond time and space known as deliciousness.

7/15/2006 4:56 AM

 
Blogger Harvey Jerkwater said...

I do not buy manga. I don't care for it. But the mind-blowing radness of this book is too much for me to ignore. I MUST HAVE IT!! To fit my western-comic mind, I'll probably translate it in my head into a Lee/Kirby book.

"IF SOUP BE MY DESTINY!"
"THIS MAN, THESE NOODLES!"
"SHALL BROTH SURVIVE?"

Still, the genius of it all...

Can you feel it in the air?

With the publication of Project X: Cup Noodle, the world just got...a little bit awesomer.

7/15/2006 9:26 AM

 
Blogger Chris Sims said...

harvey jerkwater said:

"IF SOUP BE MY DESTINY!"
"THIS MAN, THESE NOODLES!"
"SHALL BROTH SURVIVE?"


You are not far off.

7/15/2006 11:09 AM

 
Blogger Mark Hale said...

I remain blissfully ignorant of the wispy man-love comics, but between this and "Bambi and Her Pink Gun," DMP defaults to my favorite manga publisher.

7/15/2006 11:12 AM

 
Blogger Diamondrock said...

As a resident of Japan I can affirm that all that you see here is COMPLETELY TRUE. The power of Cup Noodle cannot be undersestimated. It began an entire INDUSTRY devoted to creating easy to prepare meals for the culinary inept.

I would not survive were it not for this industry.

7/15/2006 2:41 PM

 
Anonymous Lorene said...

It is absolutely THE thing in Britain as well. I visit every year and every year I cannot resist the temptation of Hot Chicken Curry Pot Noodles.

And in my attempt to brainwash the entire world into watching Hell's Kitchen (Mondays at 9pmEST on FOX... if you're not watching, WHY NOT???), I will tie this post in with a taste test Chef Gordon Ramsay did to a Maitre d' and a chef-

On one occasion, Ramsay prepared three pasta dishes, to test which one a blindfolded Gavin (the Maitre d’) and Alex (head chef) thought would best complement grilled swordfish. “They both went for the third one as being the most textured and best to go with Swordfish. They took the blindfolds off, and they’d chosen the Curry Pot Noodle.”

Yes! The power of the Raman noodle will not be denied!

7/15/2006 11:29 PM

 
Blogger Mallet said...

Could Chemo destroy Cup Noodles!?!?!

Could the Punisher punch Cup Noodles in the face?!?!?

Could Cup Noodles radness ever eclipse Conans?!?!?

These questions must be answered!

7/16/2006 12:54 AM

 
Blogger Chance said...

Your alt-text captions alone contain more pure unalloyed Funny than 75% of all the other humor blogs out there.

And that's a scienterrific fact!

7/16/2006 2:18 PM

 
Blogger Chris Sims said...

Find out tonight, Mallet, as the ISB's CUP NOODLE WEEK BEGINS!

...

No. Not really.

7/16/2006 3:57 PM

 
Anonymous carla said...

mid-twenties college dropout with a website and a weakness for the utterly absurd

Japan makes MILLIONS off of us, sir.

7/18/2006 2:12 AM

 
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