Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars) Review & Characters - The Kitchen is a Battlefield


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The Kitchen is a Battlefield

  • Episodes : 24
  • Genre : Ecchi, School, Shounen
  • Airing Date : Apr 4, 2015 - ongoing
  • Producers : J.C.Staff, Mainichi Broadcasting, Sentai FilmworksL

Shokugeki No Soma Preview / Plot (No Spoilers)

Shokugeki no Soma is the story of the young chef, Yukihira Soma. Yukihira, who spent his childhood working at his fathers diner, has matured into a promising young chef. Recognizing his talents, his Father sends him off to Japan’s elite culinary school, Totsuki Academy, which only has a 10% graduation rate. Soma must navigate trial after trial and contend in the immensely competitive academy in his quest to become a better and better cook.

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Who does Shokugeki No Soma cater to?

Shokugeki no Soma is a cooking show done in a Shounen-battle anime/manga format. If you really strip down to it, the show does really work like a Shounen action show more than anything else. Instead of actual fights, the show has, well, Food Wars. If you can appreciate Shounen Action shows, you’ll definitely find a home in food wars which mimics the style but refreshes it by making food the centerpiece rather than actual fisticuffs. However, this show does enough things well to have a much broader appeal as well.

What's so appealing about this piece of work.

As someone who isn’t as appreciative of Shonen battle-manga as others, I have to say the most endearing thing about Shokugeki no Soma is the cook-offs themselves. They’re treated with enough fanfare to seem to be poking fun at the genre, but also dramatic in it’s own right. They follow a general formula of intense cooking and preparation scenes followed by a hilarious ‘foodgasm’ which sends those eating into a tailwind. Shokugeki no Soma manages to hit its mark in these scenes almost always, so you keep coming back for more. Overall, the show just executes very well. It has a likeable protagonist, with a strong antagonist and a good cast overall. It’s dramatic, and funny, and overall it’s just a fun way to spend half an hour of your time, and that’s certainly something that keeps me coming back.

Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma's Trailer 2

Shokugeki No Soma Main Characters List

Yukihira Soma

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Voice Actor : Yoshitsugu Matsuoka

The titular main character starts off this show as a chef in his fathers diner, and aspires to eclipsing his culinary abilities. As he’s enrolled into Totsuki, he has somewhat of a chip on his shoulder, as many of the students have not actually served customers and worked in real restaurants. His experience is both a help and a hindrance. It leaves him at a loss for some dishes which are more typical of haute-cuisine, but it’s taught him how to be resourceful and also, cook with speed. The pride he has in his diner puts him at odds with many of the students, who come from the upper classes and look down on him, and his restaurant.

Erina Nakiri

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Voice Actor : Risa Taneda

Haugty, Imperious, but with some reason to be, Nakiri Erina is the Yin to soma’s working-class style of cooking’s Yang, Erina is born into the elite, but extremely talented herself. Erina possesses an insanely refined palate, the first tool of a good chef, that others label ‘the god tongue.’ She’s thought by many to be one of the academies finest, and has deep connections within the upper establishment.

Megumi Tadokoro

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Voice Actor :Minami Takahasi

Megumi set out for Totuski from a small town in the North of Japan. She wanted to make both her family and community proud, and set herself up for the challenge of Japan’s toughest culinary school. Though very skilled, she’s also extremely nervous and shy, which doesn’t bode well in Totsuki’s high intensity, high pressure environment. She tries to pull herself together as best as she can, often looking at the keepsake given to her on the day she left for Totsuki.


Contains Spoilers

Shokugeki No Soma Review

I was caught off guard by Shokugeki no Soma’s charm this season but I look forward to new episodes of this series more than most of the other show’s I’m watching that are currently airing. Shokugeki no Soma is kind of like trail mix. There’s simply enough little things that are appealing, and when you scoop them all together in a handful, they blend very nicely. And like a good meal, it leaves you satisfied, but also sad the experience is over at the end of each episode. What’s interesting about Shokugeki no Soma is that it’s actually quite formulaic. But instead of feeling repetitive and drab, you feel like you’ve settled in to a welcome and entertaining routine.

Let’s start with the show’s meat and potatoes, the cooking scenes. Virtually every scenario goes like this, Soma will have to overcome some test or challenge, that will always be a trial of culinary skill, usually with very high stakes on the line. Soma has to act, almost always with limited time and resources in order to prepare a dish. They’ll be some epic music going on as Soma cooks, he’ll finish and serve the meal. Someone will eat, and they’ll explode in almost erotic pleasure from how exquisite Soma’s cooking will turn out.

This sounds goofy, but the presentation always serves to make these scenes work. Ever since the first episode, where Soma was cooking to save his diner from loan sharks, the show has played the high-stakes angle well, adding in a soundtrack that sounds epic, but funny-epic. It always seems that the show is self-aware that it’s being ridiculous, and over-dramatic, but the production team is having fun with it, and using it to get laughs. Overall, the cooking scenes work extremely well.

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They also nail down the pleasure experience of cooking, from a number of angles. Sometimes in sheer absurdity, like where a monk abandons his entire life of spiritual dedication to indulge in the very worldly experience of Somas father’s cooking. Other times they do a great example of appealing to memory, like when Soma’s cooking reminded the old Dorm-master of her youthful romances. A show about cooking needs to capture the appeal of food, and Shokugeki connects food with a multitude of experiences that really draws you in.

Another way this show accomplishes this feat is with intelligent sections on how meals are prepared. Utilizing precious few ingredients in short amounts of time is par for the course. Shokugeki goes pretty in depth into what dishes require, often utilizing the science in things like applying heat, or preparing in a certain way. It also often goes depth into what type of flavors ingredients have, and how they interact to form a complete experience. If you’ve ever watched a cooking show, be it an anime series, or a food newtwork show, and wondered how or why something could be so delicious, tune into this series for a great example of how to properly explain it in an engaging way.

Finally, there’s even a little meat to chew on as where Shokugeki no Soma goes thematically with it’s culinary scenes. Totsuki alumni are the crème de la crème, and they often come with an elite, upper-class pedigree. Though Soma learned much of what he knew from his father, himself a world-class cook, the fact that they were stowed away in a corner-diner doesn’t bode well with the Totsuki establishment, where many graduates go on to start elite upscale restaurants.

Yukihira and his father are firm believers in working class cooking, that’s accessible to not just the rich and the wealthy. You only need to have watched a few episodes of Anthony Bourdain to know that this is real debate with the culinary world, and it’s interesting to see it play out in Shokugeki no Soma.

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This was used to perfection in Yukihira’s battle with Ikumi Mito. Mito, the heir to a prominent beef distributor, has the resources to bring the worlds finest meat to bear in her cook off against Yukihira. For his part, Yukihira can manage to sling some stuff together he found in an everyday supermarket, most of which he got because it was on sale. Which experience do more people have in the world? The production team do an great job of using this to make us rally-around Yukihira.

I think it’s pretty appealing to think that some guy who worked at a diner can slap together some stuff he got half-off at the local super market and make a dish more delicious than one made with ingredients only available to the super wealthy. Whether or not it’s true that this can be done or not, Yukihira is definitely a hero of the Hoi Polloi.

The show has enough in it’s presentation to serve as icing for a well-layered cake. Animation is not something of particular note, but it doesn’t feel choppy or harsh. The show has a bright, vibrant color to it which adds a sense of levity that go together nicely with the general tone of the show. Character designs are well-done, and they fit the personas and characterization of the cast well. The music in the cooking scenes is, as previously stated, used to maximum effect, and achieves the show’s balance of drama and comedy.

If there’s any complaint I have about the show, it’s just that it doesn’t ascend to any height of particular greatness that would make this series a true standout. But as the saying goes, one bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. Shokugeki might not be a great show, by any accounts, but has enough going for it that I can easily recommend it as one of Spring 2015’s strongest titles.

If you like the cooking or Shounen genres, definitely tune in to this show. If not, I would say that even if you’re the least bit curious about Shokugeki no Soma, it’s more than worth the initial taste.

1. The Cook-offs

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Dramatic, bombastic, and definitively ridiculous, the cook-offs are a huge part of what set Shokugeki apart from the usual cooking and food shows. Going in depth into how foods are prepared, and how chefs can manipulate different ingredients to put a new spin on old recipes has not gotten old yet, and I’m looking forward to even more of these scenes.

2. The Food Itself

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Damn do some of these dishes look good. Don’t watch this show hungry our you might ravage your entire fridge after watching this show. A good cooking show has to showcase some pretty good looking food, and this show knows how to deliver. What takes it to another level is the in depth discussion of how the food is made, and how the chefs attempt to balance the flavors of all the ingredients together.

3. The Foodgasms

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Some of these scenes are a little or a lot on the lewd side, and push the envelope maybe a little bit too far where they become a distraction. However, they definitely provide fanservice for both genders, which is nice to see, and adds to the show’s broad appeal. The foodgasms serve as the *ahem*, climax to the numerous cooking sequences in Shokugeki no Soma, and they’re often pretty hysterical.


I hope everyone was on board with all the cooking and food references I tried to err, sprinkle in to the review. If I had to give one definitive food analogy for Shokugeki no Soma it’d be this. The show is kind of like your favorite cereal. It’s not going to be ranked as some world-class dish prepared by some renowned chef, but damn do you want more and more of it and you’ll make sure to look for it when you go shopping. Shokugeki is a welcome addition to Spring 2015, be sure to catch a bite while it’s still hot.

Shokugeki no Soma Season Conclusion

Sometimes with long-running shows I get the sense that I’ve liked a lot about what’s been going on but I don’t necessarily feel that there’s much more the explain about it. A situation where a series is using it’s basic formula to success, yet again, with different events, locales and plot-points. Although Shokugeki no Soma is only 24 episodes, I feel like much of what was great in the first half continues on in the second.

Shokugeki no Soma is told in the style of a Shounen Battle Manga, except the battles are handled in the kitchen. As such, it does a lot of the stuff that a long-running Shounen series should do, well. The series manages a large casts of characters and adds more in carefully placed situations, Many of them with unique interests, and desires and motivations to give the show an interesting competitive feel. The last arc of the series, the August Elections arc, almost feel like watching the end of the regular season in a professional sports league, multiple teams (In Soma’s case, cooks) vying for a shot at the playoffs to prove themselves, each believing that they have what it takes to succeed. Though the drama of the Autumn Elections might be in proportion to how much you can stand lengthy dialogue about food and ingredients, it still works insofar as much you care about the characters themselves.

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The show continues to have it’s own particular brand of comedy, and though the gags have not varied in structure much, and continue to be placed around the ‘food-gasms’, they’re still effective the large majority of the time, contributing to an accessible, light-hearted mood and feel. This isn’t to stay that the show doesn’t have hint’s of seriousness, for example, in the character arc of Megumi Tadokoro. Megumi continues to develop as a cook and stand on her own two feet more and more. Her devotion for her hometown and her, down-to-earth, nurturing character gives the show a nice emotional tinge to it. As for our Lead, Yukihira, he continues to be an admirable, wanna-be-the-best protagonist, and the visit from his father gives us a little more insight into his drive as a character.

Overall, while Shokugeki no Soma’s second half Is in many ways more of the same, this isn’t something to be worried about when you consider the first half’s quality. It’s wacky, over the top, and still a really fun time to be had. It’s easy to see why Shokugeki no Soma’s popularity or appeal hasn’t waned throughout it’s duration.

CJL

Writer

Author: CJL

Long Islander who loves anime. Interested in politics, philosophy and also a huge fan of sports and video games. Just about any series can get me going if it’s done well. From cute girls doing cute things shows, to gritty-action or space-opera or mecha series. Comment on my articles, let’s get a conversation going.

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