Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars!) 235-237 – 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:

Catching up with Food Wars! one more time before the Mid Season, Chapters 235-237 are entirely focused on Aldini vs Eizan and their “You know that I know that you know” battle. As I discussed last time it’s been a long time coming that we have a match up that deals with how different foods affect the taste of others, and Eizan uses it here to try and utterly destroy Aldini. Chapter 235, in classic Food Wars! formula, builds up the idea that Eizan’s dish will ruin Aldini’s, thanks to applying a special coating to the judges’ tongues, making sure that whatever sweet tasting dish they have next will be ruined.

How about not having his livelihood ruined and needing to hire you, perhaps? Just maybe.

The formula kinda ruins all tension as I’ve discussed before. Anyone familiar with the series up to this point knows that this kind of strong focus and build up of Eizan’s ability means he’s going down and hard. So that means the chapter has to entertain on other merits. Sadly, I think, Chapter 235 comes in weak. Not only is the chapter devoted to over explaining how Eizan’s dish accomplishes its seemingly insurmountable advantage, but we also delve into a four page flashback establishing Eizan’s overly cruel and manipulative nature, something we’re all too aware of by this point. It’s wasted material and really doesn’t add a lot.

The only saving grace is the foodgasm art, offering up the same over the top, comical, erotic, fan service art that Food Wars! has become so famous for. It’s the only true highlight in this first chapter. As the chapter ends on teasing Aldini’s pizza, which will ultimately overcome Eizan’s scheming, Chapter 236 goes full in on the turn around.

I wish most of my days could be spent like this.

It’s revealed that Aldini has cooked a half and half pizza, one with the Shigureni beef, that Eizan’s dish is supposed to ruin, and the other half seemingly just plain cheese. While this chapter continues the tried and true formula, I think it’s saved by a focus on Aldini’s character development. It’s explained that Aldini was able to predict Eizan’s cheating methods, and thus foil Eizan’s plot, thanks to all he’s been through. Chapter 237 continues this, making full use of the very much expected turn around. While the formula is very tired at this point, it’s entirely saved here by fans getting to see Aldini having grown from all his setbacks and education.

Chapter 237 seals the deal by revealing what Aldini has done with the second half of his pizza, and securing his victory over Eizan. As with the last two chapters we get a couple more pages of erotic, fan service, comedy art and plenty of food ingredient explanation. Aldini’s character development and flip on Eizan finishes here with a great sequence reminding us that Mimasaka was set upon Aldini by Eizan in the first place, making for a pretty solid catharsis in this victory over Aldini’s original tormentor.

I think it’s fair to say this is actually a manga about chefs slowly going insane.

There’s a bit of celebrating before we’re teased with Akanegakubo’s  extreme might and the power of whatever she’s cooking, that reinvigorates the notion that Azami’s side has yet to be truly defeated. So the next several chapters will likely focus on Akanegakubo vs Megumi. If I had to predict what will happen, and I might as well offer a guess since it won’t be till the end of November that I get to come back to this manga, Megumi will be trounced by Akanegakubo, followed by Soma winning his match, making for a final 3 v 3 match up (if I’m remembering the numbers right). Food Wars! is generally pretty predictable by this point, but I’d love to be proven wrong and surprised. Surprise is the one major element missing from this manga of late, making it more often a ho-hum read than anything else I’m following in Jump. So I’ll be crossing my fingers that my predictions turn out to be entirely wrong, or at least missing something big and exciting.

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 22 releases on February 6th, 2018. Chapters discussed today (235-237) will be compiled and released sometime next year.

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