Too realistic! The secret story behind the birth of “The Queen of Location Bento,” a manga that has become a hot topic in the TV industry. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Too realistic! The secret story behind the birth of “The Queen of Location Bento,” a manga that has become a hot topic in the TV industry.

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One of the indispensable items in the production of TV programs is location bento. At drama production sites, where filming continues from early morning to late at night, it is not unusual for all three meals a day to be location bento. With the addition of late-night meals, there are even times when four meals are consumed. Location bento, the “work meal” of celebrities, who are often food connoisseurs, is an exquisite gourmet food that has not yet been explored by the general public.

A manga that sheds light on the appeal of such “location bento” has appeared, “Queen of Location Bento,” which started serializing on “LINE Manga” on March 27. The first episode, which was first published on Twitter last December (and the first two episodes in the series), was already groundbreaking. In addition to the food terror element of “location bento,” the story realistically depicts the backstage and human aspects of drama production, and like the colorful bentos that make it hard to stop eating, it is a work that makes you want to savor the rest of the story.

The Queen of Location Bento” is a manga that combines a “work drama” depicting the backstage of drama production with the “food terror” element of gourmet location bento known to those in the know.

The main character is Yoneko Tawara, who works as a production assistant in the drama filming production department. Although her enthusiasm often causes her to spin out of control and make mistakes, she has an extraordinary passion for location bento and works hard to raise morale on location. Yoneko’s dedication to location bento and the way she eats them with relish are the main points of the film.

Yoneko forgets to put on the earphone of the walkie-talkie used for communication and makes a mistake in an important scene on the first day of shooting.

The other main character is the chief assistant director, Seiga Nagumo. He is a man with a good work ethic who scolds Yoneko for her frequent failures with “KOMEDAWARA! but his tsundere attitude of secretly following up and protecting her is sure to make many girls swoon.

Although she is often furious with Yonago, Nagumo is sure to attract a lot of girls who will be “moeing” over the gap between her and Yonago.
According to Mr. Noyama, he is “a clumsy man who is really kind but hard to understand.” However, he is so trustworthy on set that veteran food coordinator Mitsue Yamazaki says, “Is there anyone who doesn’t like Nagumo? Who doesn’t like Nagumo on set?

The “location bento manga,” the first of its kind in history, was created by Tsunoda Fumu (name) and drawn by Saegusa Kei. The reason for the ultra-realistic depiction of the core drama production is the original author, Noyama Aki. Although he has remained completely anonymous and has not revealed his face even to the editors in charge of his work so as not to make it difficult for him to do his day job, he is a “man in the middle” of the TV industry. He is a “middle man” in the TV industry, someone who knows what goes on behind the scenes of a TV drama shoot. There was a major reason why Mr. Noyama chose location bens as the theme of this issue.

He said, “Since the COVID-19 crisis began in 2020, production crews have been required to have their own breakfast before gathering, caterers have been forced to refrain from catering from a hygienic standpoint, and location bento for lunch and dinner have been reduced to a silent meal. There were really a lot of restrictions. The entire food and beverage industry was hit hard, and when I thought about the number of restaurants that provided location bento that had been ordered, I thought, “It must be very difficult.

Some people think that you have to be a specialist to buy location bento, but if you have a large quantity for an event or company meeting, they can deliver them to you. With every family refraining from eating out and the demand for takeout increasing, I thought that if I made a manga featuring location bento, people would know about their appeal and that they can be purchased by the general public, and I would be able to give a little back to the location bento shops that have been so kind to me. …… I wanted to do that.”

First up is Tsutaya’s “Nori 2-dan Makunouchi Bento. It is extremely difficult to make a bento look tasty, since no tricks such as steam can be used. and asked him to try again and again.
The actual Tsudaya “Nori 2-tier Makunouchi Bento

Mr. Noyama approached Cork, an agent for manga artists and novelists, with the project and started production . I have learned that it takes more time to make a manga than a drama. While it was taking so long from conception to unveiling, we had already revived the standard breakfast location bento ‘Popeye’ and catering at the site (laugh),” he said, adding that some aspects of the project did not go according to his original plan.

Popeye, a breakfast staple that is not unknown to anyone in the industry, is, according to Mr. Noyama, “like a ‘mom and dad’ to our staff.
The simple onigiri is loved for its simplicity, and in episodes 5 and 6, it becomes a key item that highlights the “important points at work” of the main characters.

The location bento at the filming site has been restored, but I think that the situation is now that they are struggling economically due to the rising prices of commodities. So our stance remains the same: ‘We would be happy if we could help the location bento shops by making it into a manga. And since everything that appears in the manga is real, it is all location bento that “Mr. X, whom I admire, must have eaten before. If you read the manga and think it looks delicious, I hope you will try it for yourself.

Although only actors appear in the drama, there are many staff members on the set: production staff such as APs, assistant directors, and the production department. Technical staff including cameramen, sound, and lighting. There are many job categories, including art staff such as props, props, costumes, and makeup.

From the outside, it is really difficult to understand what people do in the TV industry, especially in the drama industry, where roles are so segmented. Especially in drama productions, the roles are so subdivided that I think the general public is only aware of the difference between a director and an AD. My family also thought that producer and director were the same, and conversely, that directing and supervising were different jobs. Understanding a little bit about these behind-the-scenes roles is probably one of the things that people will enjoy about this manga.”

The director, Yuya Monji, is a soothing character who in some scenes Yonago secretly says, “He looks like a local character. However, he is a very capable man at his job. Chief assistant director Nagumo also understands Monji’s intentions and gives precise instructions.

What is particularly confusing is the difference between the production department, where Yonago works, and the directing department, where Nagumo works. There is a scene in the film where Yoneko is mistaken for an AD by a member of the public, and she says, “I’m not an AD-san.

Yoneko is addressed as “AD-san” by a passerby, and as she runs past, she mutters to herself, “I’m not the AD-san.
As a production manager, arranging location lunch boxes is the best part of the job.

The Production Department, which is mainly responsible for advance arrangements and preparations, such as proposing potential locations and negotiating for filming, is divided into three sections: Production Manager, Production Chief, and Production Progress. It is mainly the production in progress that orders the location valet, and Yonago is in this position. The production department, which takes care of the actual shooting site, consists of a chief assistant director, a second assistant director, and a third assistant director, all of whom are served by Nagumo. Depending on the scale of the production, there may also be a force or lower. The chief assistant director is in charge of giving instructions to the entire team. It is up to the chief assistant director to ensure the smooth progress of the production. While we want to fully depict the differences in roles and the way of thinking of the people working behind the scenes of the drama, manga, unlike drama, allows us to make full use of the power of both the pictures and the printed page.

Many of the characters are real people, and many of them make us think, “There are actually TV people like this,” or “I wish I had a boss like that. When asked if he used real people as models for his “inside man,” he replied, “I thought it would be bad if people noticed that I looked like someone else. There are people I used as references, but I was careful not to make them look like anyone else (laughs). (Laughs.) I also have a fantasy of ‘if only there were someone like that.

While all members work together to create a good drama, when many people come together, human drama arises due to the differences in their positions and roles. In addition to focusing on the gourmet food of “location bento,” the way the characters are formed and their emotions are portrayed gives the impression that you are watching a high-quality drama, which is a major attraction of this film.

Yonago and Nagumo clash with each other, but they share the same determination to create a good drama. They work hard in their respective positions, which is why they sometimes clash.

Yonago says, “Dramas and stories, as well as manga, are about people. In episode 3, the episode about Bataar, Yoneko’s past episode in which she was upset by the high calorie “American Chicken” appeared, and the editor said, “Yoneko loves location bento, but she is not a fan of them. The editor pointed out, “Isn’t it strange that Yoneko, who loves location bento, speaks ill of them? But love is a harsh thing. But love is found in harshness, and a “person who loves anything that is a locale bento” cannot speak of the true merits of locale bento.

It is because of this strictness that we are able to discover the charm of new batards, and Yonago herself, who at first was only interested in the taste, grows as she learns more and more about the backbone of the bait and chooses the bait that she thinks is the best for the site. Yonago herself grows as she learns more about the backbone of the food. As for Yoneko and Nagumo, who are on opposite sides of the table, Nagumo is a man who has a bird’s eye view of the whole situation, so he actually sees Yoneko’s efforts that she does not see. Yoneko is preoccupied with her location bento, so she has nothing better to do (laughs), but I hope you will enjoy watching how their relationship changes.

Yonago was depressed because she thought Nagumo was angry with her and she was unable to present the appeal of the location bento. Yonago’s character,” says Noyama, “can recover from her own mistakes, but when she is not satisfied with a location bento, she regrets it because she feels sorry for the person who made it.

Just as it is difficult to understand what goes on behind the scenes of a drama, the importance of location bento and the difficulty of making choices in the TV industry is also hard to grasp if you just watch TV. Just like lunch time at the office, you might think, “Why not just go out to eat?” However, there is no time to take a leisurely meal break, and it is difficult for the performers to leave the set while wearing costumes and makeup, and there are many people on set.

There are close to 100 people on set. It’s a hard job that takes a lot of energy and stamina. So we all look forward to eating more than anything else. and everyone looks forward to eating more than anything else. When the filming reaches its climax and we order high-end yakiniku bento (barbeque) or eel-jyu (eel-jyu) lunches for the long, extremely hard days of filming, we are all fired up and ready to go! I am suddenly fired up. I would like to serve delicious food every day, but unfortunately, due to budget constraints, we cannot afford to be extravagant every time. Even if prices rise, the budget allocated for location bento remains the same, so we are in a very difficult situation.

Recently, some of the cast members have been offering us location bento, which is a great help to us. Recently, some of the cast members have been bringing in location bento, which has been very helpful. Incidentally, we sometimes have catering services as well as bento boxes. Sometimes a ramen cart comes to the location, and especially during the cold winter months, just the idea of a hot meal is a lifesaver. Recently, more and more sites are using catering as much as possible, but even location bentos are not to be outdone. Bento that can be heated by pulling a string are also very useful. In this manga, I want to collectively refer to both bento and catering as ‘rokeben’ and depict the advantages of each.

Food is important because of the hard work involved. The choice of location bento can affect the morale and atmosphere of the entire site.

In addition to the schedule and environmental factors, the location bento also contribute to a sense of togetherness among the cast and crew, as they eat the same food together.

Just like the characters in the film, the cast and crew always have their favorite “my best location bento,”” said Noyama. Regardless of their position, they will say, ‘That was delicious,’ or ‘I recommend this,’ and through food, conversation becomes lively.

Before the serialization of this work began, more than a year of location bento research was conducted. For Mr. Noyama, location bento is a part of his everyday life, but for Mr. Tsunoda, who writes the story, and Mr. Saegusa, who draws the illustrations, it took a lot of study and research to incorporate it into their drawings.

Tsuda said, “I myself have been eating location bento onsite for many years and have come into contact with location bento shops, so I can weave a drama from my accumulated experience, but they started with almost zero knowledge. They not only read the scenario and listened to what I had to say, but they also ordered and tried the bentos and went to the stores to talk to them.

The Bent-Bent “Torotto Omurice” (thick omelette rice) appears in episodes 6 and 7, where Yonago is depressed by the difficulties of the production site, but is encouraged by the efforts of the restaurants despite the COVID-19 crisis. The yellow of the egg and the red of the ketchup are appetizing.

Location bento was not the only element that Mr. Tsunoda and Mr. Saegusa had to input. They also had to explain and correct their own mistakes in the drama production process, as they sometimes misunderstood or gave priority to the “visual” aspect of the drama.

I had to work hard to eliminate small discrepancies such as, ‘The camera used for drama shooting is not that small,’ or ‘The production department does not wear heeled shoes on site. It was difficult but interesting for both of us to realize that things that were obvious to me on the set were not so obvious to the general public.

It was fun to watch them both learn about location bens and filming sites, and to see how they were rapidly developing their skills. In most manga, a single manga artist usually draws both the story and pictures, but the three of us working together had a similarity to working on a TV drama in which we have various roles to play. I, the author, write the script, and Fumu (Tsunoda) directs it into a form that fits well with the story. Saegusa-san, who expresses it through pictures, is like a cast member who plays the role.

Yonago’s senior, Shinobu Hatahira, who is in charge of production, is not only an ideal boss character, but also a man of “no age” and “seriously, how old is he? He is also “age-unknown,” which is typical of people in the industry. The original drawing was done in heels, but it was modified to match the actual production staff.
The background of the staff room where Yonago and Tsunoda talk alone was also changed from a simple conference room to a more realistic atmosphere with scripts and filming equipment.

Mr. Noyama did not just give lectures to Mr. Tsunoda and Mr. Saegusa. Both artists actively propose expressions that take advantage of the characteristics of the manga medium, creating a synergistic effect through collaboration.

When I wrote in the scenario for episode 9, ‘Aubergine is a nobleman in the world of location bento,’ he created an even more delusional nobleman than I had imagined. I laughed out loud at that, and it was the most exciting moment of our collaboration. Also, Nagumo, who was drawn by Saegusa, was even cooler than I had imagined, and thanks to him, I was able to raise the level of his masculinity inside.

Yonago’s fantasy unfolds in episode 1, and after watching “Mousou Kiko” in episode 9, “I want to make more use of Yonago’s fantasy! and added a scene from “The Drifters,” which was not in the original plan.

The three of them have just started a full-fledged serialization of “Queen of Location Bento,” and even though it had few followers and little recognition when it was first published on Twitter, there was a reason why they requested to be interviewed. In addition to the appealing theme and storyline and the elements that would make it popular, I felt that the potential for a live-action adaptation was very high, with its food terror, work drama, and behind-the-scenes look at the TV industry. When I asked Mr. Noyama, “Are you aiming for a live-action adaptation?” He responded in a manner typical of the “person in charge” of the project.

I have always been a fan of original comic books, so I wanted to work on a manga that I respect so much,” he said. I am grateful enough to have the cooperation of Cork and the team of Fumu-san and Saegusa-san to make it happen, but if it becomes a drama, it would be the best ……! If that happens, the film crew will become extras, and the location bento that appear in each episode will not only be prepared as subjects, but will be “enjoyed by the staff” as well. (Laughs). And because I have experience in drama production, I’ll leave it entirely up to you without going into details! (Laughs)”

We look forward to the future development of this “delicious” work, not only in terms of the location bento that will be introduced, but also in terms of the materials that will be used in the live-action version.

Episodes 1-4 of “Queen of Location Bens” are now available for free!

To read “Queen of Location Bens” right now, click here→

  • Interview and text Miho Kuwata Image courtesy of LINE Manga "Queen of Location Bens" (Ⓒ no Yamaki, Tsunoda Fumu, Saegusa Kay / Cork)

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