I am just about done with season one of Shokugeki no Soma (aka Food Wars) and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy this show. it is fairly high pace and has lots of laughs and I really look forward to its weekly release. The first time I watched an episode of this on Crunchyroll I was a bit put off by some of the overuse of fan-service… but can I even call it that? Sure there are tons of boobs and such and women being groped by their own imagination while tasting the main characters food… but men are not immune to this either in this series and, quite honestly, seeing it on-screen is so ridiculous that it actually makes it less about the sexiness of the character and more about the ridiculousness reactions that they have. In either case, it makes it a tough show to watch, I think, when you have family in the house. But if you can get past that– and even maybe enjoy these scenes– you will really like this show and the characters found within.
Soma Yukihira is a young boy that has grown up working at his father’s restuaraunt. He is constantly in competition with his father to see who is the better chef and is always holding food-battles with him and allowing the customers to judge. And despite Soma actually being quite skilled for his age, he has yet to win against his father.
They run this rather successful diner until one day his father calls him and tells him that he will be “cooking abroad” for a while and that he should enroll in the Totsuki Culinary Academy to improve his skills and branch off from the family diner. Soma enrolls and initially fails at getting in because he pissed off his interviewer/judge– but is accepted in later by the school’s headmaster that may have had some mischievous motives for doing so. During the welcome ceremony Soma tells all of his other classmates that he has no intention of losing to anyone who has no experience working in a real kitchen and that he intended to take the number one spot in the school. This makes essentially everyone at the school his enemy and many of them conspire to take him down.
However Soma finds the academy to be way more challenging that he had ever anticipated and he is met with challenge after challenge as he climbs the ranks in hopes to one day achieve the rank of “elite Ten” as the school and finally surpass his father in the process.
This is a Shonen anime at heart and has all the same characteristics you would expect of it therein. The women are very voluptuous and overly proportioned and there is a lot of action and battling. The main differences is the venue… they’re not competing in Martial Arts or Baseball, they’re competing in cooking. As such much of the battle scenes are very over the top in both the action and the results.
In terms of actions, you have these teens, who are skilled in their own right, performing amazing feats in the kitchen and the audience is usually just awe-ing and ooo-ing in amazement. If you have ever seen an episode of Hajime No Ippo, a boxing anime, it is pretty much like that but with cooking. So they embellish it a bit and make what would normally look mundane even as you watch a professional chef cook, looks amazing in the show. However these sequences are done so well that it is very easy to suspend you disbelief and just sit back and enjoy.
Soma is an oblivious character with a one track mind. He wants to be the best chef ever and he wants to beat his father. As such, he is usually oblivious to the feelings or issues of those around him and he lacks to ability, to some degree, to empathize with others. That is not to say that he is entirely unsympathetic, he even stands up for his friends on occasion, but he can’t always recognize the short-comings of others and expects everyone to be able to rise to any given occasion. Which is helpful when one of the characters lacks confidence.
If you do not over think this show, it is really fun. The show produces nothing new and is a carbon copy of every other Shonen anime ever made. Soma is an airhead that has one unique skill: cooking, and he is surrounded by extremely cocky people that he has to challenge or destroy to get better. It is like a tournament-style show filled with challenge after challenge and every character he faces is stronger than the next. Which is both good and bad. Good in that it puts Soma in some unique situations but bad in that the show is somewhat predictable and it is a little unrealistic that no matter how good Soma is, there is still someone who is slightly better.
Also if you wanted to enhance your viewing experience of the show, I recommend watching the movie The God of Cookery, a 1993 action/comedy directed by Stephen Chow (creator of movies like Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer). The film has a lot of similarities in both style and ridiculousness and is extremely funny.
Oh and as a side note… if you do watch the show and find yourself inspired to cook some of the dishes… wikipedia has all of the recipes of the dished depicted throughout the show on their site. Check them out here!