Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma – Anime Review
Synopsis: Shokugeki no Soma centers on Yukihira Soma, a middle school student who is determined to surpass his father’s culinary skills. One day, his father decides to close down their family restaurant and hone his skills in Europe. Before leaving he enrolls Soma in an elite culinary school that is extremely difficult to enter with a graduation rate of only 10 percent. Will Soma be able to improve his skills, or will the kitchen prove to be too hot? (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Food Wars! is a tough series to revisit, seeing as I’m of the opinion that after what’s generally a solid start, the series becomes increasingly repetitive, unable to change up its formula, causing the series to stagnate and then ultimately flag as the story takes twists and turns far below the first season’s original calibre. Despite being all about food, Shokugeki no Soma had solidified itself as one of the top shounen “battle” anime of this generation, easily a must watch for any shounen, or food fan. While the series eventually flags in quality, particularly with content adapted in the anime’s third season, what’s here in the first 24 episodes, is constantly engaging, making it one of the most solidly paced anime adaptations of a manga, with zero padding for time. It’s also the best use of food in a Shounen to date, showing Toriko you can actually be intelligent about food rather than throwing out the names of random, made up ingredients and calling it a food manga.
Linny: Food Wars injected new life into the food manga/anime genre. It’s informative and ambitious as we watch the chefs use real world techniques and ingredients to produce beautifully animated edible masterpieces. The show is a visual and literal feast to behold, and packed full of its own take on combat and action through cooking showdowns. The pacing is flawless as every episode has you on the edge of your seat, feeling all warm and fuzzy from emotions, or drowning in drool thanks to all the beautifully rendered food and cooking.
Tom: This first season also boasts quality of animation that extends well beyond the food. Each character, each scene, everything about Shokugeki screams high quality. If there’s a dipping point in quality I didn’t notice it, as each episode remained such a visual feast that my eyes rarely ever left the screen. It looks just that good. But the show’s appeal isn’t just from how well it uses food, or how good it looks, but from how interesting and entertaining the entire cast is. From Yukihira, to Megumi, his constant assistant and friend, or Nikumi, a powerful chef focused on perfecting the taste of meat, every member of the cast is a joy to watch as they struggle to prove themselves as master chefs and survive the ordeals of this high class culinary school. In fact, realizing how popular its supporting cast is, Shokugeki spends much of the second half of its twenty-four episode run fleshing them out, giving them backstories, goals, and letting us bask in their personal stories, triumphs, and failings. As much as Shokugeki is about its lead Yukihira, it’s more of an ensemble show with a strong diverse cast all struggling to prove their worth. Yukihira’s journey is interesting, but his appeal is only a small part of the total worth of the cast.
Linny: The attention and time showered on its supporting cast is definitely one of Food War’s shining point. Each character is well balanced and fleshed out and that is no easy feat considering how huge this cast gets. However, at the end of the day, it is a shounen anime so there are some cliches and shortcomings along the way. Such as making it super easy for audiences to tell that the hero is almost always, if not guaranteed to emerge on top no matter what challenges he faces. And of course, the unavoidable fact that there is so much partial nudity in the show. There is a LOT of it, as one of the popular reactions to consuming exquisite cuisine in the show is for the diner to immediately be showed stripped in the throes of pleasure. While it is pretty extreme, I want to point out that the show does it equally to male and female characters. Yes, it’s a little fanservice-y, and will probably be uncomfortable to watch for some, but Shokugeki plays it up for laughs and the equal gender stripping negates the feeling of blatant exploitation.
Tom: The Ecchi aspects to Food Wars! artistic style may indeed turn some people away, which is a shame seeing as the show works hard to balance both ends of the fanservice spectrum. For as much cleavage as we get there’s plenty of male ass and muscle to go right along side it. It should also be noted that the front and back end of Shokugeki is overloaded with fanservice, where as in the middle episodes, episode eight to twenty-two, it becomes noticeably downplayed. The only other shortcoming Soma suffers from is its conclusion. The final episode ends smack dab in the middle of a tournament storyline, nowhere near the conclusion of events. It’s disappointing, particularly as Food Wars! second season is a step down from the 1st, the pacing far more rushed and uneven. With the 3rd Season adapting the start of the manga’s massive drop in creativity and quality, my advice at this point is for viewers to watch Season 1, the best of the series, and follow up with Season 2 for a good stopping point. As someone who loved the early chapters/episodes of the series, but found everything started to fall apart as the series lacks creativity later on, that’s my recommendation. The early stuff is still well worth it, but stop there.
Linny: Food Wars first season ends on a cliffhanger which obviously makes it feel necessary to continue watching the following seasons. Sadly, as the series progressed, it began to feel repetitive and stuck in a rut, unable to truly build its world and charm past a certain point, doomed to offer up content that felt well past its circulation date. It’s hard for me to wholeheartedly recommend the series given how it eventually devolves but to be fair, since this review is for its first season alone, I will admit that Food Wars starts strong and is definitely a must try for anyone who has somehow lived under a rock/is new to anime and never knew about it until now. Food Wars takes the art of cooking and turns it into a heart pounding shonen style competition, complete with plenty of gags and fan service. It’s simply unfortunate though that the season not only ends at such an awkward point but that what lies ahead may actually end up souring viewers on the entire series.