Nikku is an indie game developer, a freelance translator, and an avid anime viewer.
It’s been about nine months since the last episode of the first season aired, and we’re finally now able to dig back into the amazing food of Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars). As a refresher, the end of the last season wrapped up the Autumn Election’s preliminary round. After fierce competition, only eight students qualified, out of sixty, to advance onto the main round. From block A we have: Akira, Soma, Ryo, and Subaru Mimasaka; and from block B: Alice, Hisako, Takumi, and Megumi. Now if you only follow the anime, like me, Subaru from block A is a character we know nothing about as he has yet to make an appearance. Despite this, he managed to sneak his way into 4th place and advance. We’ll have to wait and see what kind of chef he is when he shows up in a later episode.
As for episode 1 of the second season, it wastes very little time before throwing us straight into the first match of the main competition. Unlike the preliminary round, where advancement was determined by scores, the remaining students will be clashing head-to-head in random single-elimination matches. Their dishes will be tasted by five judges, including the director of the academy himself, Senzaemon Nakiri. First up we have Soma vs. Alice. The theme: bento.
For many of the students watching, this match is a sure win for Alice. She passed the preliminaries with the highest score. Also, her understanding of food on the molecular level, along with her use of cutting-edge technology, allows her to create beautiful and delicious dishes that tend to exceed most people’s understanding. And she certainly delivers this round with her dish, temari sushi bento. A mixture of seafood, vegetable, and meat-themed sushi, her dish literally sparkles. Alice also implements something interesting and fun into her dish, in which ingredients in each piece of sushi affect the flavor of the next one when eaten in order. The judges are all highly impressed, and Alice even earns a brief flash of the director’s ripped, bare chest (which I’m guessing is equivalent to a 9 or 10 out of 10).
Not one to back down from a fight though, Soma hits back with a nori (seaweed) based bento. Now this is generally an extremely simple bento with just a sheet of seaweed laid over rice and some side dishes, but Soma serves up his own elaborate version of this. Starting with a stainless steel container that effectively traps in heat, his dish is split between rice, soup, and several side dishes, such as fried cod and fish cakes. Although it’s a spread of various food, Soma carefully prepares each item to ensure not one falls short of the others in flavor. His bento’s strongest punch comes in the form of black-green salmon roe-like balls of condensed seaweed umami that he spreads over the rice.
Both Alice and Soma’s dishes are well received by the judges, so the decision for the match ultimately comes down to its theme. Director Nakiri, who by the way, turns shirtless for Soma’s dish as well, puts it best when he explains to Alice that she probably would have served the same dish even if the theme for the match had been sushi. Her dish is delicious, no doubt, but Soma’s dish better captures the theme, and this is what seals his victory.
I was actually a bit surprised they managed to fit the entire match into this one episode. Shounen battle stories like these tend to stretch and milk each matchup for as long as possible. This episode had the usual food explanations, exaggerated reactions, and comments from the viewers in the stands, but it all felt somewhat quicker. Now I don’t mean to say that this episode felt rushed, but I thought the pace moved faster than it did in the previous season. Was it just me, or did anyone else feel that too? I could just be misremembering due the time gap between the two seasons, but it just might have to do with the second season apparently only being 13 episodes compared to 24 for the first. For good or bad, less episodes will mean less time to dwell and linger on anything for too long. We’ll see if this quicker pace continues throughout the series, but I just hope the story doesn’t start to skip or rush parts due to it.
So for next week’s episode, the second match will pit Megumi against Ryo. Honestly, this is going to be a tough fight for Megumi. It’s not uncommon for the underdog to pull through, but I think the cards are stacked high against her. Not only did Ryo score higher than Megumi in the preliminary round, but his fierce cooking style and dishes tend to have quite an impact. This is almost the complete opposite of Megumi’s cooking, which is tender, caring, and homely. However, she’s already pulled an upset to advance to this round, so it’s possible she can make it happen again. I think it’ll all come down to the theme of the match. Just as we saw in this episode, the theme is key. It’s not simply the better tasting dish, but the dish that best captures the theme that wins.
I’m looking forward to seeing how next week’s match will play out, but until then, let us know in the comments who you think has the upper hand in this showdown between Megumi and Ryo, and which of the two you think will survive and move on.
Anime official site : http://shokugekinosoma.com/
Twitter : https://twitter.com/shokugeki_anime
©Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki/ Shueisha,Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Committee 2