As with everything, I’m coming at this quite later past the series hype (it finished airing season one in September though I believe it’s been retained for a second season in Spring?) but I’ve finally given it a chance and my god, I regret not doing this any earlier.
Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma (shortened to Food Wars from here on out) for the uninitiated is a shonen series written by Yuto Tsukuda and illustrated by Shun Saeki, though in this case, I’m more specifically referring to the anime, I’ve also read the fist chapter and it’s definitely worth its own look (especially if you get so into it you get impatient). The anime itself is produced by J.C. Staff.
With the credentials out of the way, just what the hell is food wars, and did you really say its a shonen? Well, yes to the latter, the former deserves a bit more detail. Food Wars probably isn’t the first food related shonen you’ve heard of, you may have heard of another called Toriko (I’m not sure I’ll ever post about it again so it’s worth mentioning that series did not particularly hold my attention after two-three episodes) but this one came across entirely different, it really took to heart its premise, a show about food.
The principal character is Soma Yukihira and he fits the standard shonen lead tropes very well. He’s aloof (akin to Goku, Naruto, Luffy, Gon, you name it), extremely skilled in his form of martial arts (that is cooking, though in his particular case, it’s definitely earned and harnessed), and near brash in his confidence. Erina Nakiri is easily the second most vital character in the series, she’s the granddaughter of the head of the most prestigeous culinary school in the world and she’s probably got the greatest palate in the entire world, revealed from birth when she spoke her first words by criticizing her mother’s breast milk (wait, don’t leave yet, it’s funnier than it sounds!). She’s not unlike the Chichi’s, Sakura’s, Nami’s of the world. She thinks very highly of herself (okay, maybe not Sakura), she’s aggressive towards our main character, and near spoilt in attitude.
Soma’s sole goal is to beat out his father in a cooking contest (it almost reminds you of Gon’s desire to find his father). His father is an elite cook and owned a small-time diner until for one reason or another, he left to return a friend’s favor and sent Soma to Erina’s culinary school. There, he must pass an entrance exam with none other than Erina as the entrance examiner. The adversity Soma must face quickly becomes apparent because he grew up in a small-time diner and doesn’t have the prestigeous background all of these students have, their snobbiness and elitism is brought to the fore rather quickly, even out of Erina.
I don’t think I need to further elaborate on the shonen elements here because that’s not what kept me, even though, trust me, I love me a good shonen series.
Food Wars feels more like a hilarious comedy. To these elite cooks food is an incredible thing and when you’re at Soma’s level in terms of cooking, you make food so tasty it pretty much gives you a Foodgasm. Yeah, you read that right. I don’t know if I’ll get tired of it, but seeing a character taste his food in the first two episodes and have the aforementioned foodgasm is one of the funniest things ever. It’s also nowhere better than in Erina who has such an incredible palate that she’s able to draw the wildest comparisons to describe a taste in food (boy I wish I had that ability for making comparisons while I write) such as one student’s food tasting like being in a hot spring and then suddenly realizing there’s a gorilla there too. Another tasted like having a juke box fall down on you in the middle of a waterfall. Of course, when she tastes Soma’s food, the foodgasm takes on a new level.
I was worried earlier on that the foodgasms were pretty much just an excuse for the creators to show the female characters in… uh… unsavory situations ala High School of the Dead, but felt quite settled when the foodgasms were indiscriminate in their victims (that is, the male and female characters alike had these incredible foodgasms).
I’ve only watched two episodes so far, enough to gain an impression, and while some shows take three to help me decide rather I want to keep going or not, it took only one episode for me to settle on this one and that episode was essentially a prologue preceding our actual meeting Erina. Should you watch it? Fuck yeah. But beware whomever passes you by during one of those aforementioned foodgasms.