Shokugeki no Soma! (Food Wars!) (Chapters 156 -159) – Review Discussion

Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma):

Chapters 156-159

Reviewed by: Tom

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Why is the little snow girl pissed?

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 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. Now every club must survive a Shokugeki against Azami’s handpicked elite chefs, or see their clubs dissolved into nothing and face expulsion. First on the chopping block is Alice’s cutting edge cooking club. Can her man Ryo defeat the dangerous Rentaro in full on cooking combat!?

Review:

Welcome back to the Shokugeki Review and Discussion! This week we’ll be covering the Shokugeki battle between both Ryo and Rentaro as the former fights to keep Alice’s club in existence and prove himself against this new, smirking foe. Let’s jump right in then.

Chapter 156 continues right where we left off last time, with Rentaro and Ryo going head to head. The food still isn’t ready yet and our judges haven’t weighed in either. Instead we begin with Soma and the rest discussing Rentaro’s methods that involve the cutting edge tools he brought in last time. Soma wonders exactly what kind of oven Rentaro is using and Takumi comments that Soma should know what it is since it was mentioned in class just the other day. This amuses me greatly because I feel like this is the first time we’ve had any dialogue addressing that they actually attend classes outside of all these events. Shonen Jump skipped nearly 100 chapters, and I’ve mostly caught up thanks to the anime, but unless there’s mention in the final chapters of the classic tournament arc, I’m pretty confident this is our first confirmation that there’s actual academic courses, with teachers, that they attend everyday. Crazy how we’ve gone 156 chapters and not once seen them attend a real, honest to god, class. But hey, we can all breath a sigh of relief that there’s some actual education going on here behind the scenes!

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I think, in actuality, Soma is suspended in time whenever the characters aren’t in panel. That’s why he misses the lectures.

After the oven’s lengthy explanation and how it tests the mettle of all chef’s ability to balance heat and cooking time, we get a glimpse of Rentaro’s cooking and man does the art make it look tasty. Thanks to it, as well as the accompanying explanation, the manga manages to sell that Ryo has his back against the wall here against Rentaro’s Saumon Au Confit Flamme.

Chapter 157 continues right off from 156’s cliffhanger. The judges prepare to taste Rentaro’s dish while he displays his overwhelming arrogance, declaring himself an early victor despite the judges merely commenting on the dishes’ powerful and intense fragrance. Unfortunately Rentaro has the right to arrogant, as the judges try his dish and can’t help but admit that its taste is superb. I don’t think anyone is shocked about this, as there’s only one character in Food Wars! that makes bad dishes and those are all on purpose. No, the real shocker comes from the second component of Rentaro’s dish which even managed to surprise me, someone who’s got a pretty good handle on how the manga’s battles tend to flow: Rentaro made ice cream with Salmon!

Honestly, it sounds a little nasty, but has me curious enough that I can at least suspend my disbelief that perhaps it tastes better than it sounds. But this salmon ice cream, combined with his Saumon Au Confit Flamme are said to mirror each other so perfectly that they make for an unbeatable pairing. Momo, our little elite ten girl who’s been watching this whole time, tries Rentaro’s dish and finds herself caught in the middle of a disrobing foodgasm. It’s bound to make a few of the less prepared readers a bit uncomfortable as Momo doesn’t look nearly as old as the rest of our mid-teens cast. It’ll be interesting to see what the anime does, if anything about this scene, assuming these chapters ever get an adaptation. I imagine most manga readers this far into the series were prepared for this eventuality, but with anime hitting a wider audience I can see this scene causing even more ripples among the american anime fan base than the disrobing foodgasms already caused when the anime first aired.

With Momo’s approval the audience is already swayed heavily in Rentaro’s favor. But Ryo screams at them as he busts out his dish, telling people they simply cannot judge things before they’ve tasted his cooking. Ryo shows off his Coulibiac, which honestly looks like he shaved the back off a Camerupt Pokemon and cooked it. (Hey, people have always wondered if humans eat Pokemon. I guess now we know.) Megumi is offered a taste by Alice and has her own disrobing scene that is a bit more modest, perhaps in fitting with Megumi’s shy side, as her bra and panties remain on.

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Pokemon fans finally have their answer as to whether people eat Pokemon. Poor Camerupt.

the judges taste Ryo’s dish and initially one of the judges, the one who didn’t even get a proper introduction, comes bursting out that it’s a tie and the two dishes are too close to call. This moment helps to sell that Rentaro and Ryo are quite close in ability and gives the audience doubt as to whether Ryo can come out of this on top. Despite this shocking declaration, the older and wiser of the three judges stops his junior, stating that without a doubt one of these two dishes is indeed better. The chapter ends there, but when moments like this pop up we know that a conclusion is right around the corner.

Chapter 158 brings us right back in with set up for Rentaro’s seeming victory. We learn he baked his salmon in olive oil, allowing it to retain the stronger flavor. Indeed, even the judge who declared a tie flip flops positions and says Rentaro’s is clearly superior (We need better judges, this guy flip flops more than a politician.) It’s here that readers familiar with Shokugeki see the now inevitable outcome. As Rentaro begins to brag and lay on the arrogance the judges remaining quiet. It becomes painfully obvious we’re in for the big switcharoo. Soma tells us to wait until the judges have declared things. And indeed when the judges taste the dishes again, our third nameless judge flip flops again, declaring Ryo’s dish as the superior. Rentaro refuses to believe this, until he’s given a taste of Ryo’s dish and has his very own disrobing scene to end the chapter (Ladies, you’ve been very patient.)

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If you like your men spicy and arrogant, this guy’s for you, ladies.

Chapter 159 takes us away from the action for a moment to go back to Erina who’s still struggling with all the reveals surrounding her father, Soma, his father and more. Isshiki startles the hell out of her as he comes down through the ceiling and suggests they go and see Alice’s Shokugeki. (I’m not sure if he’s simply referring to Ryo’s battle or whether Alice herself has a Shokugeki coming up. I’d kinda assume the former but if so then jeez, Isshiki you guys are super late.)

Back at the Shokugeki Ryo reveals the tricks he used to give his dish the edge. By adding Spinach Grepe and a mix of spices he was able to create a nonuniformity to the flavor, allowing each bite to taste different, letting the dish to retain its impact for longer. As the conclusion centers around Ryo becoming the clear victor we see Azami slinking through the crowd, walking away as if to say he’s abandoning Rentaro as a failure.

We also get a brief flashback to Ryo’s experience during the Stagiaire and his resolve to evolve as a chief in the face of his loss during the Classic. Once we come back to the present Ryo is officially declared the winner. I’m of two minds about this development. On the one hand I think the manga has done well enough to sell these guys, Rentaro and Co., as a clear threat, but at the same time I can’t help but feel we had a missed opportunity here to really ramp up the tension by giving Ryo a hard loss. Then again, Shokugeki fancies itself more a comedy than a dramatic shonen, so maybe it doesn’t need the extra tension if it wants to retain a more light-hearted atmosphere.

However, Ryo has a line here that I feel like is purely there to try and make people feel like Rentaro was more a threat than he ultimately came off as. Ryo implies he only won because Rentaro underestimated him. It’s true from the way events played it seems like that, but I don’t buy it. Like Soma, Ryo and the others tend to be cast as culinary geniuses and generally outstrip their peers, so It’s hard for me to be shocked when they school someone who’s only a year or two ahead of them at Totsuki. We end this chapter with Azami appearing from the crowd and giving a standing ovation to Ryo and his cooking as Alice realizes her uncle, whom she hasn’t seen in ages, has been watching them.

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Dun, dun, dun!!! Wait, we already knew they were related, what’s the big deal then!?

Going forward I don’t know exactly what to expect. Are we going to move onto another shokugeki or two before we summarize the rest of the battles off panel? Will we see one of the main cast schooled by Azami himself? That’d really ramp up him and his new regime as a threat. It’ll be interesting no matter what to see how Soma and the rest manage to take back the institute, but I think we are a good 50 chapters worth of content away from concluding this arc. I have a feeling this arc may outstrip many of the others in terms of sheer length.

That concludes this session’s Shokugeki Review Discussion. Please feel free to comment with your thoughts for Chapters 156-159, or any other general comments you have on the manga or the anime! Thanks for reading!

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 (156-159) will be compiled in Volumes 18-19 to be released sometime next year.

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