With the spring anime season wrapping up and summer titles coming right around the corner, I have been reminded of something. Food Wars season 2 airs this summer, and I haven’t even covered my full thoughts on season 1 yet! Not that there was any urgency for me to do so, but seeing how it’s pretty popular, I thought I’d look back at the anime thus far before its continuation.
Now I won’t be sharing anything particularly cutting edge in terms of the series, but I do need to make at least one distinction. This is a show is about culinary arts, not cooking! As I have expressed in another anime review, cooking is an art. Culinary arts is a fucking* competition!
Food Wars! Shokugeki no Sōma takes place at the prestigious Tōtsuki Academy of Culinary Arts. Here, only the most elite of high school students are accepted, and the school’s graduates become top chefs in their own right all across the globe.
That’s cool and all, but remember what I said about culinary arts? Yeah. Only 10 percent of the school’s student body graduates! The remaining 90 percent go back to their miserable lives to do normal high school stuff, I presume. And it’s not like those students didn’t even try. The way the institution runs, those 90 percent are weeded out of the program before they can even enter their terminal year!
Culinary arts is everything to this school. From class rankings, grading algorithms, even minor disputes on campus are resolved with a cooking competition! But let’s be honest. We never see any of the students attend lectures, because watching those for a school of this caliber would be BORING!!
But before I get into the juicier details of this series, we need to talk about its titular character. Sōma Yukihira is essentially that class clown you remember from high school. He wasn’t gifted in any particular social graces, and his main goal in life is to maintain the diner that his father started. Sōma brings a very loud flavor to his cuisine, but his style is nothing like the fancy elitist stuff that other students like academy heiress Erina Nakiri have learned to make at Tōtsuki Academy.
Sōma challenges the world of things like French cuisine with his own Japanese flavor. And by “Japanese,” I don’t mean things like sushi, which is the Japanese equivalent of culinary extravagance. I mean mom-and-pops comfort food with a fryer and an open air bar, with the sweet smell of tonkatsu and donburi enticing the masses to come by for a quick meal. You know. The stuff that we the proletariat eat!
Of all the ways I could describe this show, “elitist” definitely isn’t one of them. If there is anything that this show does over the top, it’s the very idea that top chefs would even dare to share their sensitive palates with the likes of diner trash! But even so, there is an art to making comfort food. There’s just not nearly as much money involved in making a single dish.
Sōma came to Tōtsuki simply because his dad was a graduate from there, and his dad thought it would be a great idea to give his son a chance to learn the same things he did to make one of the best diners in all of Japan. So aside from some of the more intense shenanigans that happen in this show, there is a very strong emphasis on family values and community too.
And yes, Sōma’s father is just as badass as you think!
But I’m sure you’re not reading this for whatever boring things I have to say about premise-related details that you can probably get from reading the show’s summary or something. You want to know about just how intense this show’s visuals can get, and boy do they get intense!
One of the greater sell-points of this series among fans are the visuals, if you couldn’t tell by now. Cooking may be an art, but culinary arts is all about what brings the customers over. And to that effect, simply presenting dishes in all of their artistic glory just isn’t as interesting as making it. The real drama happens not in the food, but in the actions. This is why a lot of emphasis is placed on Sōma and his friends/rivals rather than on the food itself.
And don’t even get me started on the insane amount of eye catchers in this anime!
To all the people who refuse to watch this, Food Wars also contains a lot of these bizarre ecchi moments, as ladies and gentlemen erupt in vibrant foodgasms whenever they eat, well, just about anything. But that’s about it. The visuals are presented as metaphors describing just how it feels to eat whatever is presented to them, and nothing more.
In the words of other shows like this one, this is “sexy eating” gone too bizarre. Of course, there are also plenty of moments where the dishes themselves are presented in all of its eye candy, where you can see the sauce dripping all up in its fine gooey madness.
But of the many reasons to enjoy this series, my favorite part of it is the character who shares this narrative with Sōma: Megumi Tadokoro.
Much like our titular character, Megumi doesn’t come from the elite class, nor is she a culinary genius. She comes from a small fishing town that may as well be in the middle of nowhere (err… on the coast of nowhere?). But with the help of her family back at home, she came to Tōtsuki to open up to a bigger world view.Sōma and Megumi have a lot in common, as both of them are clear underdogs in the world of culinary arts. But unlike Sōma’s style which makes these snooty culinary masters acknowledge diner food on equal grounds with the finest of cuisine, Megumi’s style brings these esteemed chefs back to their roots.
Throughout the series, Megumi is often portrayed as delicate, shy, and otherwise too scared to take risks. In a world where everything is competitive from class rankings to the most basic of disputes, someone like Megumi would never fit in. But what they don’t know is that Megumi does have plenty of strength. She may not be as confident as Sōma, but she has the support of her entire community.
Megumi may not be aware of it sometimes, but she has plenty of skills worthy enough to be at Tōtsuki Academy. It’s only a matter of time when that becomes apparent to everyone else.
I wouldn’t describe this series as particularly graceful in any way, but it is definitely fun to watch. I am looking forward to what is to come in Food Wars, the animation. But while I may be excited for Sōma and all of the other characters from this series, I am waiting to see how much Megumi will grow with great anticipation.
Season 2 is coming very soon. You bet I’ll be watching it…
So if you’re looking for an anime that turns the heat up in more ways than one on culinary arts, watch Food Wars! Shokugeki no Sōma! And now, I need to get something to eat.