Nikku is an indie game developer, a freelance translator, and an avid anime viewer.
We saw Soma defeat Alice last week in the first match of the Fall Elections’ main round. For this week, we have the showdown between Megumi and Ryo. It turned out my prediction of how key the theme of the match would play in deciding the winner proved wrong, but before we get into that, let’s take a look at what happened this week.
Episode 2 begins with the aftermath of last week’s matchup. Soma helps cheer up a crying Alice before they both leave the stage to make way for our next match, Megumi vs. Ryo. The theme for this week: ramen.
In a brief flashback of the previous day, we get to see how Megumi prepares for this match. Unlike Ryo, who instantly decides on the type of pre-made noodles he wants and what ramen he’ll make, Megumi spends the day experimenting on different kinds of flavors. After struggling for some time to find the right blend, a care package from her mother is delivered and this helps Megumi decide on what to make. I felt this was a bit convenient story-wise, but still fitting, as Megumi’s cooking is deeply intertwined with the food she grew up with. It’s these ingredients and experiences from her hometown that Megumi brings with her to each new challenge.
Back in the present, the match starts and we see that both Megumi and Ryo are making a seafood-based broth. However, their ramen completely diverges from there. This ends of being somewhat of a matchup of polar opposites, as their personalities, approaches to cooking, and dishes are all in stark contrast of one another. As for the ramen broth, Ryo prepares a thick, brown-red broth that just screams “flavor,” while Megumi’s broth is lighter, and almost a clear yellow.
Thanks to a few flashbacks and some commentary from Alice, we get to learn a little more of Ryo’s past in this episode. Like Megumi, Ryo also comes from a harbor town. We also learn that he was the head chef of a pub-style restaurant from a really young age. Albeit slightly unbelievable, this is quite impressive, and could be viewed as a level above Soma’s own experience working at his family diner. This comment might sting a bit for Soma, as he takes great pride in having grown up actually serving customers (think back to his speech from when he first entered the academy). In Soma’s defense though, Ryo wouldn’t have been a head chef either if he had been working under Soma’s father. We also get some insight into Ryo’s approach to cooking. He sees cooking as a solitary endeavor, and despises cooperation. All other chefs are mere opponents he needs to defeat. Megumi is just the opposite. She cherishes her fellow chef friends, and seizes on any opportunity for them to learn and improve together.
The match winds down, and Ryo serves up his ramen first. As expected, its flavor has quite the impact; so much so, some of the judges even describe it as “violent.” This is fitting for Ryo, and his ramen manages to force out Director Nakiri’s bare chest. (It appears this has become the standard for judging. It’s difficult to tell the difference between their evaluations though.) Next up is Megumi’s ramen. The judges are at first apprehensive whether it can live up to the flavor of Ryo’s ramen, but after just one taste, they’re immediately sucked in. Despite its appearance as a light-tasting broth, Megumi’s ramen actually manages to go head-to-head with Ryo’s in flavor. Director Nakiri takes up his brush, but before the winner is announced, the episode comes to an end.
I was surprised they held off on announcing the winner this time, given how last week’s episode played out. It seems the pace has slowed down just a tad bit, but the more likely reason is that this episode is much more suited for a cliffhanger ending. Unlike last week, it’s harder to tell who’ll win this time.
I was also a bit surprised that the noodles were prepared for them in advance this match, although it does make sense. Noodles can provide just as much room for creativity as broth, but it would have been difficult for them to actually make high-quality noodles within the match’s time limit.
This week introduced more backstory for Ryo, and it made me wonder how Alice managed to convince him to follow her. I had assumed that she might have defeated him in a cooking battle and forced him to submit, but we learn this episode that she’s never beaten Ryo. It might have been the chance to compete against top chefs from around the world, but we’ll have to wait for another flashback to get the answer.
So we’re going to have to wait until next week to see who won this match. It could really go either way. Both of their ramen looked amazing, and if I had the chance to taste them, I’m not sure which one I would choose as a winner. Unlike last week, it doesn’t appear the theme will prove key to who wins, as both Megumi and Ryo captured it well. The judges seemed equally pleased with both of their ramen, and this episode didn’t really hint at which one had more of an edge. I will note, however, that Director Nakiri didn’t take off his shirt for Megumi’s ramen, although it might have just been skipped.
Lastly, based on the image shown at the end of the episode, it looks like next week’s matchup will feature Hisako. As for her opponent, we’ll have to wait and see.
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©Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki/ Shueisha,Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Committee 2