Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars!) 219-222 – Manga Review
Reviewed by: Tom
Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars!) Synopsis: Soma Yukihira dreams of becoming a full-time chef at his father’s neighborhood restaurant and to one day surpass his father’s culinary skills. But just as Soma graduates from middle school his father, Joichiro Yukihira, shuts the restaurant down to travel around the globe and cook for the privileged. Joichiro issues Soma a challenge, that if he can survive the most elite culinary school in Japan, where only the top 10% manage to graduate, then Joichiro will acknowledge him as worthy of taking over the restaurant.
(Warning: Spoilers to Follow)
Since that time Soma has faced countless challenges at the Totsuki Culinary Academy. He’s overcome the student body thinning training camp, competed in the school wide tournament, survived the Stagiaire event, and more. But the Totsuki institute faces a major upheaval as Erina’s father, Azami, returns from banishment. He sets about turning the elite council of ten against the Academy’s head, Erina’s grandfather, Senzaemon Nakiri and electing Azami as his successor.
But Azami’s plans don’t stop there. He sets into motion the complete dismantlement of all the Academy’s clubs, all in an effort to bring about a perfect, uniform cooking where only the best chefs create new dishes and the masses have but to learn them. Can Soma and his friends return the institute to what it once was or will they too eventually be crushed beneath Azami’s far-reaching ideals?
I’m still not too keen on the way this arc continues to progress and while the Rankings have improved, I feel like Soma has done little but return to its tried and true formula, which puts it in increasing danger of becoming stale. But I’ve beat that drum enough times now, perhaps signaling my impending end in following this series.
Otherwise this chapter moves as expected. Kuga is pitted against Tsukasa and we get a flashback shedding light on Kuga’s issues with Tsukasa and why he’s so determined to best him here. It’s something I kinda loathe with Shonen and is far more pronounced as we chain/alternate three Shokugeki matches at a time, with little mix into the formula. So often Shonen leave backstory to the last minute, interrupting the flow of the present to hang back on the previously undisclosed past. It’s thankfully not a multi-chapter flashback, although it does take up a solid 6 pages and really only amounts to ‘Tsukasa never recognized him as a challenge.’
I also think the issue of these flashbacks is compounded by the fact that we have 3 Shokugeki running at one time, with no variety in the typical match up, meaning we get 3 flashbacks near back to back!
There’s some good comedy here as we get to see Rindo cook for the first time. Alongside her bad ass skinning alligator skills this marks a highlight in the chapter for me. Otherwise we get bogged down in another flashback, this one far less showy and way more telly. We get a pretty big info drop, with unsightly walls of text, on Rindo’s backstory, which just feels lazy.
We also get more of an introduction for Tosuke Megishima, which will lead into yet another flashback.
To try and change the flow up we get commentary from the judges and some speculation/explanation for Rindo and Tosuke’s cooking. But as the two contestants chat/taunt (mostly Rindo) we’re guided into yet another flashback, this time featuring an explanation for how Soma roped Tosuke in, although as we see Tosuke initially said no. Ideally, as the Anime was announced around the release of this chapter, the anime adaptation might add this back in chronologically. Unless the anime chooses to adapt at an incredibly slow pace, leaving these flashbacks in where they are would put three of them back to back in just two episodes.
Part of me also wonders if the reason Tosuke has a flashback here, rather than seeing his recruitment earlier, had to do with the manga trying to right its flagging rankings and push us right into the one element the series has managed to entertain with without fail: It’s Shokugeki.
This last chapter we’ll be discussing today goes full flashback. We spend almost zero time in the present and instead all our time very quickly establishing Tosuke’s position, his gimmick (hates Shokugeki guy) and Soma’s ability to turn him around through sheer persistence. For a guy who hates Shokugeki Tosuke gets suckered into them easy. It’d be one thing if Soma played this for laughs, but here it felt like everything was focused on Yukihira’s bad assery and perseverance. It’s not entirely addressed that Tosuke is so easily goaded into these challenges, not once, but multiple times. It feels like Tosuke’s gimmick isn’t really developed properly and more exists as a quick fix to give his character a ‘unique trait.’
Overall I still find myself immensely dissatisfied with this arc, even if other readers and have turned back around in its favor. If things don’t improve soon I may drop Shokugeki no Soma as I did Black Clover. No one wants to see me beat a dead horse every month.
Thanks for reading and please let me know your thoughts on Food Wars! in the comments section below!
Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) is published weekly in Shonen Jump. Volume 19 (Chapters 155-163) releases on August 1st, 2017. Chapters discussed today (219-222) will be compiled and released sometime next year.