Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma – Season 1

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma – Season 1

Soma Yukihira is a middle school student who is determined to surpass this father’s legendary culinary skills. But not all things go to plan. Suddenly, Soma’s father decides to close down their family restaurant and travel to Europe to hone his skills even further. Before he leaves, he enrolls his son into an elite culinary school with a notorious reputation: only 10 percent of each class is actually good enough to graduate. Will Soma be able to improve his cooking skills, or will the kitchen (and the competition) be too hot?

Soma Yukihira is the heir to Yukihira Restaurant, a local establishment known for cooking some truly wonderful dishes. Soma’s father, Joichiro, cooks such great meals that it makes the guests envision that they are somewhere else entirely, such as the middle of a sophisticated city or on their own desert island being fed by beautiful villagers. So good are his culinary creations that his guests tend to forget their inhibitions (and sometimes their clothes), enraptured on the first mouthful.

When Joichiro closes up the restaurant suddenly to go abroad and cook, Soma is more than a little surprised. However, he soon discovers that his father has mysteriously enrolled him in Totsuki Culinary Academy so he can finish his high school education. A commoner among young elitists, Soma knows little on the subtle accents of international gastronomy, but he does have an innate skill for extraordinary cooking, a broad knowledge of how ingredients work together and an unshakeable confidence is his own abilities that is often mistaken for arrogance amongst his peers.

After becoming the only transfer student skilled enough to pass the rigorous, almost sadistic, entrance exam, Soma announced at the prestigious entrance ceremony that Totsuki Culinary Academy is just a stepping stone for him on his path to culinary supremacy. Naturally, this doesn’t go down very well with the student body, and Soma immediately gains a large group of rivals who are determined to make this common upstart eat his words. This introduces a very colourful cast of characters that are determined to destroy Soma’s cooking career before it has even started.

Of course, among this elite student body are the “bad guys” of the culinary academy who are gunning for our cocky protagonist. Erina Nakiri is the granddaughter of the academy director and is currently the best culinary student in the school. Not the least bit impressed or intimidated by her, Soma is seeking to claim her position as his own. To do this, he discovers that he has to compete with other students in academy-sanctioned events, called Shokugeki. Two students each prepare their own dishes, which are tasted by a panel of three judges who decide on the winner. The loser is expelled with immediate effect.

This anime first looked to be merely a new genre for unnecessary fanservice, but during the first few episodes it seemed to find it’s feet and now has a lot more going for it in terms of plot and action. The dishes created by Soma and the other students look good enough to eat in real life (anime food at its best). At times, it’s almost like watching a cooking show in real life, with the added bonus of being able to “hype up” certain scenes with speed, flair and delicious sound effects. It’s a very fun show to watch, and even fair-weather cookers can glean new ideas from the innovative recipes prepared by Totsuki’s finest, showcasing different types of cuisine from around the world.

The tasting scenes still have a tendency to be nothing more than blatant fanservice which, after seeing a character spectacularly prepare a fantastic meal, only cheapens the process, but it seems a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things.

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma isn’t an anime with a particularly deep meaning or a complex story to tell. It’s meant to be colourful and fun with a hint of culinary showcasing. In the timeless tradition of fighting anime, action and characters are often blown out of proportion and outrageous exaggeration is part and parcel – but this remains comical and never really feels overdone. There is potential in this plot, but the real star of the show is the food itself, designed and described so well that you can practically imagine what each dish tastes like.