Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma – Season 5

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma – Season 5

Shokugeki no Soma centers on Yukihira Soma, a middle school student who is determined to surpass his father’s culinary skills. One day, his father decides to close down their family restaurant and hone his skills in Europe. Before leaving he enrolls Soma in an elite culinary school that is extremely difficult to enter with a graduation rate of only 10 percent. Will Soma be able to improve his skills, or will the kitchen prove to be too hot?

I never fail to get really excited when I hear that a new season of Food Wars is about to be released. Every time the audience has high expectations and every time the anime delivers with more tasks for the Polar Star dorm to overcome and more opponents for them to go up against. I saved this one up for a few weeks so I could dive straight in and binge-watch it. I know that mass-consumption would be frowned-upon at Totsuki and it’s all about savouring the nuances in the umami, but like a good dish at a shokugeki – one bite can completely overwhelm the senses.

 

The first years are facing a big even for their second semester: The Advancement Exam. However, the Polar Star dormitory has been marked as a rebel faction against Azami’s absolute regime, and so the odds are stacked against them so much that they’re likely to be expelled. Even so, the gang make their way to Hokkaido and are coached by Erina herself on how to get ahead and get around the dodgy tricks of the Central Gourmet Organisation. If that wasn’t enough, Soma finds himself in a heated head-to-head with none other than Hayama, who has recently joined Central as an Elite Ten member.

Despite their best efforts, the number of Polar Star rebels begin to dwindle in the neverending onslaught of Central challenged. As things become desperate, Soma’s father Joichiro makes a return to Totsuki to help coach the survivors and give them a fighting chance at overthrowing Azami and his dogmatic opinions of what good food preparation should look like, but will this be enough to take down Azami and his reign on terror? Maybe the rebels just need to change their method of attack…?

Fun, folly and fantastic food – that’s what Shokugeki no Soma is full of. Though the story is quite repetitive in method, the sheer diversity and variety available keeps things fresh, engaging and interesting. With the different teams, opponents, ingredients and situations, this anime has me anticipating every episode. The culinary contexts and information has me learning something new every time, I swear. I’d be surprised if this anime wasn’t contributing to an increase of interest in cooking in Japan.

I continue to be impressed with the way they manage to keep a handle on the huge cast of characters; how they successfully cycle them through the storylines so that we never think that some have just been forgotten – whether these are Polar Star residents, those that have joined a specialised cuisine club, members of the Elite Ten or Totsuki alumni. I think this has a lot to do with all the different specialisations of cooking on offer.

Soma will often call on helps from various people to help him design and curate perfect dishes by helping him procure ingredients, use a new cooking technique or advise him on an opponent’s skills. It’s the inout and insight from these (seemingly endless) styles that enables Soma to constantly improve his culinary prowess. The setup works perfectly – so much so that every introduction of a new character leaves me wondering “what is their cooking style?”. It also helps to identify them later on and understand their character and, when their different styles collaborate (which is beginning to happen more and more), the end results are truly impressive.

I have high expectations for Shokugeki no Soma, as always, for its ability to keep doing what it’s doing to its usual high quality. If elements become tired, I know they will change tack. I also know that if something isn’t broken, it won’t be fixed for the sake of it. Long may Soma’s adventures at Totsuki continue.