What’s up everyone! Welcome to Beyond The Panel. Coming at you today with talk about Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma! Plates one through four to be specific. So another week or so goes by, and here with one more anime series added to the list of those which I have found the time to binge watch. Now this one I definitely found myself guilty of putting off till this point. At the time when this was the big thing, my tastes towards anime pointed in a different direction. Currently, I found myself more open to what other series like this had to offer. Not to mention at a point it is challenging to see these foods and not want to see how they’re made!
For those who don’t know, and might be new to this series like I was, Food Wars is set mainly at Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute, an elite culinary school located in Tokyo, Japan, which only a handful of students graduate from each year. Our main character, Soma Yukihira, battles some of the world’s best chefs at this elite culinary school and beyond to prove himself and refine his skills. Off the bat this is what initially threw me off. At first I read this premise and couldn’t see myself investing in cooking battles. I mean, how exciting could that really be? Some of the animations looked like they were actually clashing, but even then that would have been too much for just cooking. So when I jumped into Food Wars!, I was taken back by the fact that there was much more to it than what I was seeing on the surface. These were battles just like what you would see on TV. The only difference was that there was more style and elegance to it.
As the main character, the main thing I was looking for was a character who I wanted to journey into this world with. Soma Yukihira was the right kind of character for what he had to offer. he could have easily been loud and obnoxious like some others who would turn you away instantly. However, that was not Soma. From start to finish they set him up to be the embodiment of passion for cooking. Someone who was willing to look into the abyss, trying to satisfy others through his food, and challenge what doesn’t seem right about what other aspiring cooks value. Growth and development for Soma was also taking in everything around him and trying to find his identity through his cooking. By the end of the fourth season it went a long way that they also set him up as he kind of aspiring cook who didn’t have a specialization. This gave Soma so much room to consistently strive for his own kind of cooking that couldn’t be replicated.
This cast of characters did not disappoint either. If there was one thing I had my reservations about at first, it was the idea that they could make so many characters stand out the way they did. I mean you had the pro-cooks, the teachers, the students, and other professionals in the cooking industry, and it was hard to say if they were going to be able to cover all of that properly. However, there was no stone left unturned when it came to fleshing these characters out. Everyone was introduced coming from different backgrounds in food, with different specialties, having something that they wanted to walked away from Totsuki with. Through all four completed seasons, I could only ever say there was one character who bugged me, and that was barely something worth getting into detail about. Everyone else brought the same level of passion and endearment towards the world of food.
What really managed to take me by surprise was the story and plot progression. When you think of a series like Food Wars!, you don’t instantly think of a story that would turn out as straightforward as it was. Yet it was just that. Almost every episode was getting these characters from point A to point B in their journey towards becoming better chefs. We experienced their life on campus, in the classroom, in the kitchen, and more importantly the arena. You would think that we might get too much of one thing over the other, but I would say they hit an excellent balance between the battles, and the actual storytelling. By the start of the fifth season, there was nothing that you could say that was truly the same from when things began in the very first episode. Characters made waves, they set on their own paths, they went through specific arcs to realize their own worth. For much of it I was not prepared to feel so many emotions over the stakes that were involved in this too. There was everything to gain, and everything to lose by putting themselves out there.
There was a point watching this anime where I truly realized what it was that I admired most about it. That being the passion that went into the cooking. We surely enough experienced this from the characters and the dishes they made, but it was undeniable once i came to the way each dish was broken down. If you’ve seen my reviews for Dr. STONE, then you know one of the best qualities from it to me was that the creator had the science of everything down pat. These were real things that you could make at home yourself if you had the available resources. The same could be said for Food Wars!. As someone who is not very skilled at cooking, my jaw-dropped seeing how in-depth they got with the recipes. It takes a strong knowledge of the culinary arts to explain these dishes the way they did, because it was not enough for these characters to make believers out of each other, the creators had to do that for us too. There was not one episode where I felt they didn’t put their all into the ingredients, cooking methods, plating, food backgrounds, and so on.
Moving on to the food itself, this amazed me for the fact that these were mouth-watering dishes that could really make you hungry in the moment. When I first decided on trying Food Wars!, this was at the suggestion of a friend. He actually hadn’t caught up himself, and said that this was because the series always made him hungry. It took some time to full understand that myself. When I did, credit where it is due that they could genuinely accomplish this the way they did. The visualization of every dish was so real. Some dishes looked too good to be true, but at the same time not too unreal that you couldn’t picture yourself eating it too.
So at the end of the day, Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma is another anime series that I can’t help but recommend you watch if you have not already! I’m glad I got around to this one when I did because you came for the spectacle of it, but you stayed for everything more that this turned out to be over the course of these Five Plates (seasons).