Food Wars! also known as Shokugeki no Soma follows the life of Soma Yukihara as he works at his father’s restaurant with the ultimate goal of becoming a better chef and one day surpass his father’s cooking skills. But just as he thinks his skills are getting to where they need to be, his father, Joichiro throws a spanner in the works and shuts the restaurant down as he travels overseas to work in other high end eateries.
Soma’s father sends him off to hone his skills as a chef at a highly prestigious culinary school known as Tohtsuki Academy. A school meant for the best of the best and has a graduation rate of only 10%. During his entrance exam is when he first meets Erina Nakiri, the girl who will be his rival and competing force for majority of this first season. The relationship between herself and Soma greatly reminded me of the relationship between Ash and Misty in the earlier episodes of Pokemon with it’s competitive rivalry bordering on schoolgirl crush. Erina is known in throughout the world as the ‘God Tongue’ as she was born with an incredible palette for food and has consulted for many restaurants the world over to improve or judge their food. And she is very picky about what is good, as you may have guessed, she doesn’t approve of much. She even lies about enjoying Soma’s entry exam dish and says it’s disgusting, with the hopes of him not being accepted at the academy.
Although Soma does gain entrance into the school, but does so as the underdog, not liked by very many students after presenting a very cocky acceptance speech. This sets in motion dish sabotages, bullying and one of the best things about this show…the food wars.
Ever since I was young I have loved cooking shows. One of the best ways to explain the battles of Food Wars would be animated Iron Chef. When two chefs of the academy want to do battle with one another to prove who is superior they initiate a Food War, a battle that generally has a shared theme and some sort of high stake for the loser, such as being expelled from the school or having to join a different specialty club within the academy. These battles are scored by independent judges after scenes of mass cooking action and over the top tastings.
Among the anime community, even those that have never seen Food Wars! at all have heard about the tasting scene’s. And everything you’ve heard is probably true. Whenever someone in the show tasted anything they deem to be tasty, the scene morphs into an over the top, transcendent food-gasm moment. Some of which are quite suggestive and definitely not one for the kiddies. Some of these moments had me in disbelief at how outrageous they were, others had me laughing out loud at how quirky the reactions were presented. This over the top sexualisation of the tastings got very repetitive as it occurs just about any time food is tasted in the series, it was not needed most of the time, but it is what the show is known for, so if the creator’s were going for something that people would talk about, even those that have never seen the show then i’d say it’s probably a success for them.
Food Wars! has quite a large cast of characters but each have their own quirks to make them recognisable as individuals at the school. Throughout the 24 episodes of this season you get to spend plot points with all of them and learn many of the back stories and personal motivations for the ones that go on to become main cast members. I’m also sure that towards the end of the season it has started developing characters who will have a larger part to play in season 2. During the 24 episodes I found myself quite attached to most of the characters, especially those that share the dorm with Soma and his direct rivals.
Throughout the series I could tell that the writers of Food Wars! are very knowledgeable when it comes to the culinary world. In the same way that sport anime go about their action scenes, food wars is no different. The food, from the recipes, to the accompanying ingredients and even the explanation cuisines and dishes from many different parts of the world are all 100% factual. These creator’s know their stuff. And in true anime fashion, the food scenes in Food Wars! jump into full on Shonen mode with their over the top action, unrealistic preparations and descriptions of the food that could go on for days but overall are great and provide a good break up from the slice of life scenes that make up the rest of the show.
I found the pacing of this season to be pretty much perfect. It had an overall plot that was established within the first 2 episodes, but throughout characters are introduced and their personal stories are explored via the use of smaller 2-3 episode arcs throughout the 24 episodes. The plot was always progressing, and while there were some scenes of judges over explaining food dishes that I wish were shorter the change ups in the story every 3 episodes or so kept me entertained the whole time.
Overall, Food Wars! Season 1 was highly enjoyable and i’d recommend it to just about every anime fan. If cooking shows or anime with over sexualised situations aren’t your thing i’m not sure you will enjoy it as much as someone who does, but the overall plot and interesting characters should keep you engaged nonetheless. For those that enjoy their anime in English, the Sentai Filmworks dub is really good and introduced me to some new voice actor’s i’ll be keeping an eye out for in future. Unfortunately this home release set as with many Sentai releases doesn’t have much in the way of special features on the disc besides clean opening and closings and some trailers for other new release Sentai shows. The season does end on a bit of a cliffhanger so i’m keen to jump into season 2 when that releases.
A Blu-ray review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment for the purpose of this review.
©Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki / Shueisha, Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Committee