Shokugeki no Soma! (Food Wars!) (Chapters 152-155) – Review Discussion
Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma):
Reviewed by: Tom
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, cooking 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 upheavel 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.
When the Polar Dormitory is also in danger of becoming shut down, Soma strikes back, challenging council of ten member Etsuya Eizan and defeating him in a Shokugeki. Despite this victory Soma and the Polar dorm crew are a long way from stopping Azami’s far reaching plans for the Academy.
Big things are happening in Food Wars! these days. We’ve moved past the tried and true Shonen staples, the training camp, the tournament, the training time skip. What I love about this series is the talent behind converting fighting manga staples and applying them to the cooking based nature of the title. Now we’re looking at Food Wars! tackling the “Villain from the past” plotline. We’re looking at everything we’ve known about Totsuki getting turned on its head. Things will most likely return to the regular status quo after Azami is defeated by Soma, but for now it’s gripping watching as Azami tears down everything and everyone in his mad belief of equalizing and normalizing the field of cooking, forming a clear divide between those who possess talent, and those he deems unworthy.
Starting with Chapter 152 Soma has successfully defeated Eizan, and we’ve learned the truth surrounding Azami and Soma’s father, that the two knew each other and much of Azami’s ambitions today were forged by the events of the past. We still don’t know any of the real details, and I suspect it’ll be awhile before any of that is divulged. Instead this chapter acts as a set up, helping to define the new order of things as we move forward with the Azami Arc.
Our favorite apron wearing Isshiki doesn’t have much longer as a council member, presumably seen as a threat to the new Azami order, but his actions ensure that we’re set for the events to come. Isshiki ensures that all Shokugeki challenges against the Council and Azami are fair play now, eliminating the cheap tactics Eizan had tried to employ against Soma. These kinds of chapters I find a bit boring, as my main appeal with Food Wars! is the excellent Shokugeki battles and the stellar art that comes with them, but I also know chapters like this are necessary, otherwise we’d just be asking Yuto Tsukuda to draw food ecchi all the time and nothing else (Would I really mind that?)
We are also treated to a brief conversation between Soma and Erina, which acts as a reminder to the audience that Erina is struggling with a lot of developments. The revelation that Soma is her favorite mentor’s son, her father’s controlling nature, and more. She’s currently side-linned, but I hope she works through all this quickly, I’m eager to see Erina participate in a Shokugeki against the Council and her father.
Moving onto Chapter 153 I was again met with disappointment. I’m eager for a Shokugeki and once we get them they’re all concluded off panel! Soma and the gang decide they need to scout out their enemies, see just how powerful the council is at this culinary warfare as club after club challenges them for survival. We’re briefly introduced to Momo, our 4th chair council member, but besides introducing her odd quirks (using her teddy bears paws as oven mitts, or her inability to talk to strangers) we skip over the real meat of the Shokugeki challenges. It’s a little frustrating having only the dialogue and reaction’s of characters faces to sell us on how powerful and dangerous these individuals are.
Eizan is still brewing over Soma, kicking things and reflecting on his continued humiliation, which Azami only extends, refusing to demote Eizan, despite it seeming exactly like what Eizan wants. He’s not a particularly threatening villain, although we do have a sense of how dangerous he can be. I’m hoping he’ll have an about face, grow a bit, and become a more threatening menace, because while wallowing in his self-pity and self-loathing he has zero chance of becoming a true threat to Soma and the gang.
It’s towards the end of this chapter we’re introduced to the “minor villains” of this arc. Before Soma can even hope of challenging Azami, or even the Council members themselves, Soma and gang will need to strike down these small fry villains. We’ve got the cold and quiet girl, the mocking chick, the muscles and serious guy, and the lip-licking villain punk.
Again, as if trying to rush through these introductions as quickly as possible, these four new villains trounce a bunch of no-name students right before Soma and the rest. They defeat each and every challenger in just a few panels, flashing from the start of the match to the crushing defeat all in one go. While we’re moving very quickly through the set up of this arc, It’d still have been nice to see at least one of these minor struggles expanded upon, because right now these four don’t seem very threatening, at least not to Soma and the gang.
Chapter 154 is where things finally start to build with Yukihira and Takumi both challenging our lip-licking punk, Rentaro. Confronting him and revealing him as nothing more than a low self-esteem punk. However, its not yet time for Yukihira and Takumi to take the stage (this manga can be such a tease.) as we learn Rentaro already has a Shokugeki against Ryo and Alice, who, shockingly, are the heads of the cutting edge cooking club.
Now, After chapters 152 and 153, I was raring for a Shokugeki and the minute I read this development I could feel myself building with anticipation. Finally, we’d be getting back to the amazing cooking/battle art that really puts Food Wars! at the top of its game.
Leading Chapter 155 Alice explains to us how this Shokugeki even came to be. Last chapter she gave us the rather silly, yet totally Alice like, explanation of events that lead to her even being in charge of the Cutting Edge Cooking Club to begin with. Here we learn they could’ve avoided a Shokugeki entirely! (This manga is filled with people fighting fights they don’t actually need to fight.) Heck this battle wouldn’t be happening if Ryo wasn’t such a hot head. But who cares! I don’t! I wanna see some cooking and ecchi, so any good excuse will do!
Finally the cook off begins and this is what I’ve been waiting for, real tangible evidence that Rentaro is dangerous! He brings out two cutting edge cooking tools Alice used in a previous arc, difficult stuff to use and produce incredible food with. While Ryo seems to have his own brilliant dish up his sleeves it feels like this match could go either way.
Personally, I’d prefer Rentaro to win, thereby legitimizing him, and the rest of these new comer villains, as tangible threats moving forward. If Rentaro is defeated I feel like it undermines the power of Soma’s enemies and dampens them as a real threat. But no matter what I’m looking forward to seeing some crazy detailed cooking, and epic foodgasms!
Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) is published weekly in Shonen Jump. Volume 12 (Chapters 93-101) will be released on June 7th, 2016. Chapters discussed today (152-155) will be compiled in Volume 18 to be released sometime next year.