Easily a top ten show of this entire year, Food Wars took the awesome elements of classic shounen action and melded it into the competitive, scientific world of a top-notch culinary school, displaying the guts and smarts of the students determined to be the best in the world of cooking. And IT. WAS. AWESOME.
As this story is told through a multitude of many elements that pull together, I’m a little nervous writing this and doing the story justic! This anime was a stunning, multi-faceted adventure with great characters, gorgeous animation, and tons of fun elements! So, hopefully by the end of this I’ll have convinced you all to give it a try. It will truly be high on my favorite shows of the year!
Shokugeki no Souma
Action | Cooking | Drama | Comedy | Shounen
Summer 2015 | 24 episodes | PG-14
Food Wars follows determined and good-natured Soma, a teenager raised in a neighborhood restaurant by a chef, as he enters Japan’s most unforgiving élite culinary school. Despite the fierce (but sometimes friendly) competition around him, Soma and his dormitory friends begin facing cooking challenges, harsh teachers, and the powerful world of cuisine itself. As they advance through the school year, they all grow more and more in their understanding of food’s power and complexities… both in the effort of creating it and in its impact on those who taste the results. But how many “shokugeki” food battles can Soma survive as he tries to climb into the powerful tier of the school’s greatest students?
Food Wars is a lot of things, but it is most importantly a story about the great power of cuisine and the knowledge chefs must have to create masterpieces of flavor and presentation. For all the action and drama and comedy, food remains the strong centerpiece of the story, as it rightly should be in a cooking anime. Creating food and delivering a satisfying dish is what drives our characters forward.
Being an avid fan of food, cooking, and baking myself, I did find this show an absolute treat to watch, just for all the food porn. XD I greatly appreciated how the show respected food, its power, and the passion that goes into creating great dishes. It was also incredibly thorough and realistic about the science and creation of dishes, and the many uses of all the ingredients featured. I learned so much about food, and in each episode there were always stunning dishes to drool over! The studio J.C. Staff really knocked it out of the park when it came to that animation!
While food was the centerpiece of the show, the characters were the ones handling and creating it, and boy were the characters of Food Wars fantastic! Beautifully designed and memorable, the cast was led by Soma, a kid with fiery red hair and a determination to match. While he often came across as being a master of his craft already, the character never came across as annoying, and he was developed fairly well as the story progressed. Never afraid of a challenge, Soma was plucky and smart, but also comically oblivious to how other people felt about him. He was a good sport and even gave credit where credit was due!
One of my favorite parts about Soma was how he helped out his new friend Megumi when she faced trouble: not by rescuing her, but by mentally equipping her to rescue herself! I thought that was fantastic, since Megumi needed to rely on her own strength to pass tests. Soma understood this about competition and was willing to help her as best he could. Simply put, Soma was a cheerful, supportive friend to not only Megumi but to all his buddies and this made him incredibly endearing.
Soma will be on my list of top ten heroes of the year for his kindness, cooking smarts, charisma and go get ’em attitude! Best shounen lead ever!
The rest of the cast was also fantastic; at points there were a lot of people to keep track of, but nobody looked the same, so at least I never mixed characters up. XD After Soma, I adored Megumi the most; she was timid and lacked confidence in herself at first, but she learned how to roll up her sleeves in the face of intimidating challenges.
There are too many characters to discuss in-depth but I don’t want to leave anyone out. XD There were several memorable teachers and chefs who played as villains and cheerleaders, which was cool. There were lost of different students who all had skills in certain areas of food, which kept Soma on his toes. And everyone was voiced wonderfully, as well. I have some of the many fantastic faces of the show below just to show off their designs and the personalities that emanate from them . XD
One interesting part about Food Wars is its fanservice. For the first few episodes, Food Wars featured some pretty heavy fanservice, as characters’ clothes would blow after tasting Soma’s (and eventually other chefs) fantastic cooking. This fanservice lightens up for most of the series, but I found it an interesting and rather telling way to show off the power of food.
In its essence, food is paramount to our survival. We need it to live. The fact that we can eat something that sustains us while also managing to taste incredible is enough to boil us down to our naked skin in happiness. Food is life changing. Food Wars demonstrated this literally to great effect (and often very comically–there were some fantastic “eating” scenes that included fantasy and food taking on human form, which was just hysterical!) Thankfully, as the show progressed the fanservice gets less “sexual” and instead served as a vivid way to show the power of food and what it makes us feel.
Now we have to talk about the show’s action and comedy, because both were stellar. If you’ve seen much anime at all, you’re familiar with shounen action, in which characters crackle with power, episodes stretch on with grand combat, and cheese abounds. XD Food Wars took shounen action, managed to keep it fun, but also heightened its sense of thrill and suspense. The show knew how to work its action without it coming off as too cheesy. Plus the stakes seemed more believable in the culinary school setting. If you fail, your entire future career in Japan’s culinary world is greatly threatened, which I found more relatable and dangerous than other shounen fantasy threats.
To put it simply, the show had a very strong presence which was very hard to forget when each episode ended!
When the show wasn’t boiling in cooking action or a battle of wits, it supported fantastic character dialogue and comedy! Not only were the tasting reactions often hysterical, but different characters playing off or reacting to Soma was also really funny to observe. There was one character who wanted to make Soma his epic rival, but Soma was a little oblivious to it which was hilarious. The characters’ designs would also often transform into chibis to communicate their extreme emotions, which always got me giggling.
Overall, Food Wars hit home runs in both its action and comedy genres, while never loosing touch with its plot or characters.
I had a flipping blast watching Food Wars throughout the spring and summer seasons; the animation was gorgeous and solid, the soundtrack a blast, the characters very enjoyable, the plot paced quite well, and the suspense enough to kill! From where the show ended, I have hopes that we’ll get a second season within a year or two and I’m very excited to see what challenges Soma and Megumi will need to face next!
Again, while everything about this story was stellar, I really did love and appreciate the attention, detail, and love given to the food itself. So much beautiful food, always in the center of attention. If Soma has anything to do with it, you’re going to be starving for a bite every time! 😉
Star Rating: 5/5 | Rewatchability: High | Definition: “Happy to serve!”