Post Reply Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma
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Posted 4/29/15 , edited 5/15/15
by moonhawk81

You weren't really about to get up from the table, were you? Ryou might be taking a break in the kitchen, but that just gives Soma a chance to show his stuff! Yes, no sooner has Gourmet Girl Graffiti ended its season of curvaceous culinary temptation, than along comes its complementary series Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma. Complementary? Indeed! Because while Gourmet Girl Graffiti focused upon how food can be flavored by the cook's love for his/her diners, Food Wars examines how a love of food itself, demonstrated through respect for both ingredients and various cooking methods, can also translate directly into the preparation of great food. And the respect is real--Food Wars has received recipes from chef (and model) Yuki Morisaki since its inception back in 2012 as a manga serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump. That serialization is ongoing, as are spin-off manga and light novel series. The anime is produced by studio J. C. Staff and is being simulcast on Crunchyroll on Fridays at 2:25pm CDT.

So, who is Soma Yukihira? He is a first-year high school student who has grown up cooking in his father's restaurant, and wants nothing so much as to inherit and run that very business. He has been his father's faithful protege as he learned the various kitchen arts, and has even begun experimenting with his own recipes and competing against his father in impromptu cooking matches. But this comfortable existence is brought to an immediate halt when his father suddenly closes the restaurant and goes overseas to cook, enrolling Soma in an elite culinary academy where he finds himself a misfit amongst rich and snooty students who consider pedigree a prerequisite for both talent and worth. Furthermore, Soma makes an enemy of the school's shining star pupil (and granddaughter of its Director) before he even manages to transfer in--talk about talent! Thereafter, in a pairing too devious to be random, Soma is partnered with a student who will be expelled should she receive just one more low mark. All of which should threaten to get inside Soma's head and make a mess of him. . .except that he's just too busy cooking to really care.

Let me go ahead and mention that this series shares another connection with Gourmet Girl Graffiti--it also occasionally aspires to food porn status. That's right, experience all the same over-investiture in swallowing scenes and accompanying moans, with the newly added enticement of suggested nudity (and repeated suggestions of tentacle rape). But again like Gourmet Girl Graffiti, Food Wars has enough of a story and likable enough characters to overcome such distraction. So far, at least, this remains primarily a show given to celebrating great food and the people who prepare it professionally. Just watch with caution--because somewhere between the laughter and the sudden hunger pangs, you might accidentally learn something. Zerogouki, your thoughts?

by Zerogouki

As my esteemed colleague moonhawk81 has already established, Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma is a feast for most of the senses, including taste. That's not something that anime satisfies all too often, but just looking at the delicious food (and exquisitely disgusting bad food) will either satisfy hunger pains or just create them. That alone makes it worthwhile in my book, as a food lover from a restaurant family. If you don't already have a passion for it, though, it's sure to interest: Just listening to Soma explain some of the dishes is enough to get my mind working as much as my mouth is watering.

It's not all about food, of course. Simply applying a shonen veneer to a novel topic wouldn't be nearly enough to satisfy in the long-term. Although food and cooking manga is a fairly significant genre in Japan, we've only had a few come to the US and international streaming platforms, like Oishinbo, Yakitate!! Japan, and the recent Gourmet Girl Graffiti, as moonhawk points out. What all of the successful incarnations of that idea have in common is that they have the same combination of strong characters and visual dynamism that make most anime hits, and Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma has that in spades.

It's still in the early goings, but as the series moves into showing Soma's day to day life at school, a bevy of fascinating characters show up. Even if some of them fit rather neatly into shonen archetypes, the colorful artwork and new situations liven things up in a way that would otherwise be difficult to do. So far, my favorite has to be Megumi Tadokoro, who is fast shaping up to be an ally of Soma's. Her anxiety and lack of experience in the high-stakes environment is a bit easier to relate to than Soma's superhuman confidence. It's nice to see a diverse and complimentary cast developing early on.

Speaking of, Erina Nakiri makes for a perfect foil for Soma. it might be a little too on the nose, with just how much they diverge, but it works -- The nice thing about it is that, as far as we can tell, she really is just as competent as she claims, and thus is an actual opponent for Soma. We know that, for as easy as things seem now, his desire to see his school days as merely a stepping stone will not come easy. We don't have to strain much to be on his side, because his struggle makes perfect sense, and in a shonen series, especially one where the stakes aren't life or death, that's crucial. For me, I'm absolutely looking forward to seeing how far he can go.
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