Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars!) 226-228 – Manga Review

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?

Review:

Again, I think Shokugeki no Soma is rushing itself. This team shokugeki match up has been less about introducing new mechanics to the series, and more about finding a way to ‘cut the fat.’ It’s most evident in these three chapters here. We open as Saito and Subaru finish up their dishes and the announcer girl helps to sell Subaru’s prowess in his trace ability. Right after everyone else finishes their dishes, all in just two pages. I follow a lot of manga, and so I sometimes forget details, but I can’t remember in any of the past arcs them chaining the battles quite like this. Normally we’d do one match up at a time, but here everyone is finishing all at the same time and even the next chapter has them all taste tested right alongside each other.

Nah, plenty o’ pervs out there that’d still take you.

Indeed with Chapter 227 we waste no time diving into the taste test. It’s wall to wall food gasm/disrobing, food explanations, cooking explanations, etc. We focus on the rebel’s dishes and, in fact, by chapters end we skip right over the taste test for central’s fighters. It really is a total ‘trim the fat’ scenario. I can’t say it doesn’t entirely work. But while Soma’s ratings have improved in the Jump Weekly Rankings over the last few weeks, I do wonder how readers are going to respond to this.

I guess the big question becomes whether or not most readers feel they’re still satisfied with the basic Shokugeki and just want the more boring, less necessary aspects chopped away in favor of the main dish. I personally can’t say I’m a big fan of the manga utilizing this technique for long, but audiences seemed more pleased with the ‘return to form’ than I was, so maybe trimming the fat is the best call, short term or long term.

Chapter 228 weaves a flashback through that explains that even if our three players lost this round, it was part of a grander strategy to wear the enemy down. Indeed Central’s three fighters all collapse from exhaustion, which doesn’t make too much sense outside of parodying classic shonen fighting turn of events. With a victory coming from the loss, the chapter ends as Soma pushes for them to decide tomorrow’s match ups right there and then.

Brings a creepy smile if you ask me.

If I had to guess the next couple chapters might focus on some kind of prep for the next day’s fighting, or perhaps cut that out in favor of rushing into the action of tomorrow’s match ups. Maybe flashbacks to the prep work will be interwoven as they were here at times, all in an effort to trim the fat and keep the story chugging forward to more and more Shokugeki. In some ways I’m more interested to see in 8 weeks time (the rough turn around for Weekly Rankings) how readers reacted to this new, truncated approach.

 

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) released on August 1st, 2017. Chapters discussed today (226-228) will be compiled and released sometime next year.

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