From the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump, comes a knock your socks off, in a quite literal manner, Shonen Battle manga, with a tasty twist. I loved the Food Wars manga when I first started reading it back in 2013 and got really hyped for the show when it initially aired; but does it still deserve a seat on the council of ten?
In a world quite similar to our own, a teenager that goes by the name of Yukihira Soma is working in a low-class Japanese diner, alongside his father. After Soma rescues the restaurant from being bought out by a big business, Soma’s father decides to travel the world to learn more about cooking, he sends Soma off to a culinary school in the process. At first, the young lad is against this, as people who are paid to teach people to cook aren’t as good as those who just run a restaurant. He quickly discovers this isn’t necessarily the case, as Totsuki Academy is one of the most brutal places imaginable, with only 1% of the initial attendees making it to graduation.
The show uses 2 main plot hooks to keep its forward momentum. First are the lessons on the school curriculum; these are the more enjoyable episodes and involve the characters having to create some kind of dish, under certain requirements; such as having egg be the centre of the dish, or having to source all the ingredients from the wilderness. These are where the story really shines, and gives a spice of interest that drew me into the show.
The remainder of the episodes are comprised of the titular “Shokugeki”s, (Food Wars in the Dub. Also Food Wars in the subs, but it’s wrong and is an alteration to the already established nomenclature of the Viz manga translation.) These are officially sanctioned cook-offs that bid two rival chefs against each other under a dish theme, which is then voted on by 3 judges to see whose is superior. Tsukuda Yuto, the original creator, uses the fights to skip all the preamble of needing a reason to make certain dishes, and jump straight to cooking them. While good in theory, it doesn’t give the creativity of the series a chance to shine, but if you’re just after the food porn portion of things, then these would be your more preferred sections.
When I used the term ‘food porn’ in the previous paragraph, I wasn’t just using flourishing words to create a sense of sophistication within my sentences. Whenever a person eats one of the meals created in the show; it cuts to a scene of the characters’ clothes flying off them, and a visualisation of them either being raped, or put in a state of bliss by the concoction shown. For those of you aren’t a fan of slapped on ecchi, it is immediately obvious that these scenes are supposed to be taken in a comedic light. Also, even though it is not completely 50/50, characters of both male and female genders are seen naked throughout these cutaways.
As the series is an adaptation of a manga, you may be wondering how it holds up in that respect. Well, these 25 episodes cover the first 60 chapters of the original work. This is 3 chapters into volume 8, and on screen, this doesn’t lead to any pacing problems.
Included in the release are Sentai Filmworks trailers and 25 creditless OPs and EDs; yes one for each episode, even though there is not much difference between a lot of them. The Blu-ray also includes the standard affair of extras that Animatsu add to many of their releases nowadays; a hard box, plastic O-Card, and small poster; the release also says art cards are included, but I wouldn’t risk assuming that they are in there.
Possible spoilers below.
The end of this season decides to leave the story right in the middle of a tournament arc, but they still try and create a complete story out of it, so they cut out the introduction of one of the villains for the next stage. In theory, this is fine, as it allows the story to feel like it has an end, were it not renewed for a second season. The problem is that two of the supporting cast are shafted by this, as they act like they lost in the after party, but there is no character they lost to shown. This means the show retains that feeling of incompleteness, even after trying to fix it.
The only other problem I have with the Food Wars anime is that I’ve seen the second season. It is not as good, they cut out all of the character development from the manga that makes the series great, and instead focus on the battles and food porn. For some people, I’m sure this won’t affect the enjoyment value; and really it doesn’t diminish season one entirely, but the bad taste it puts in my mouth when such a finely crafted production is diminished by a bad follow up can’t be ignored. So if you go into this thinking that the quality will remain for subsequent series you’re out of luck.
All in all, Food Wars: Shokugeki No Soma is a great adaptation of a great manga; if not for trying to wrap everything up, and the sequel not living up to this original, it would be an amazing experience. You should buy this release if you like food, a different style of battle manga than what everyone knows about, or something to introduce you to the manga that you then switch to after this season.