Just to be clear on this, Shokugeki No Souma: Totsuki Ressha-hen is actually the second part of the third season and hence making it the fourth instalment overall of this series. Got that? Understand? No? Yeah, damn single cour break in between the third season brought about this confusion if this is supposed to be the continuation of the third season or the fourth season. Yeah, the community is split on that. And they’re not even talking about the main series itself. But let’s not get distracted by this numbering issue and head down to where it all matters: The food. Okay, Souma and his brand of rebels mostly from Polar Star Dorm as they seek to defy Azami and his Central-cum-Elite-Ten brand of cooking. Can they do it save the cooking world they have been protecting? All aboard the hype train! Choo choo!

Episode 13
We see Erina trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Jouichirou is really Souma’s father? Tsukasa makes an announcement about the upcoming advancement exam. In place of this rigorous exams that one could pass or fail, as long as they follow Azami’s guidelines, they are guaranteed to pass. As it is also stated if they side with Central, they will become first rate chefs, this is also a warning that those who do not follow will be made an example. Talking about you Polar Star guys. Later Erina visits Souma’s room. The confession we all been waiting for? Nah. More ranting and blaming to hide her tsundere as we all know her. She tells him her story how she first met Jouichirou and fell in love with his cooking. But that was also the last time since Azami soon instated his strict teachings on her. Because of that, she feels lost on what real food is. Excuse for Souma to cook up a dish to regain her confidence back again. Something that he is going to finally make her say delicious. Yeah, it’s like his goal ever since this series started. So with his own family styled chicken egg tempura, what is the verdict? Chibi Souma chicks pecking on Erina’s naked body!!!!!! WTF???!!! Yeah, we know it’s really that good and the explanation of the ingredients and process that comes with it. Erina still has her pride. So what spurred him to make such a great dish? His answer: People who only know one correct answer can reach even greater heights. Very well said. Additional: If you know exactly where you’re going, it’s no fun. Basically, the journey is more important than the destination. Satisfied, Erina finishes the bowl. Never tasted so good. Mmmm… But instead of Souma getting his reward of Erina finally admitting it is good, she tells him to gather all the Polar Star members tomorrow morning. In the chilly morning, she rallies them to fight on and she will help guide them there. Challenge accepted.

Episode 14
The format of the advancement exam takes place throughout Hokkaido. They will travel to different locations and do different dishes there until they reach the final destination, an isolated island at the very north. Thus begins Erina’s Spartan lessons until their departure in 7 days. Don’t give up now… So in the first exam, the gang are grouped into different teams. Of course it is blatantly obvious that Erina gets preferential treatment. Souma is paired with Megumi, Yuki, Alice and Ryo. They are supposed to make a salmon dish. However they soon realize this is part of Central’s plan to eliminate the rebels as they are given poor ingredients. If they cannot make the dish before sundown, they will be expelled. Sounds like a good plan. But not fool proof because you know how they are going to be resourceful as they go out to buy the best salmon. Some more mumbo jumbo on how they make it, blah, blah, blah. Eventually the examiner is forced to pass them because her body cannot lie how damn good the salmon is. Take that! Never underestimate the main characters! From now on, the examinees will take a train to the various exam location. Erina continues her supplementary exam until lights out. Despite her usual pride, she notices that her friends treat her very nicely as they really appreciate her lessons. And perhaps what we all want to hear from Erina, previously she finds Souma annoying but now she doesn’t mind him at all. A little step closer…

Episode 15
In the next exam hall, they will make Hokkaido style noodles. Of course there is a wide variety of them. As usual, the rebels are separated but this time they are all called last. When it is their turn to make the dish, they realize not many ingredients are left since the earlier examinees have used them. Can’t make the dish? Out you go. Souma is paired with Megumi and Takumi this time. They want to go out and buy ingredients but there is a blizzard. The worst in decades! Did Totsuki even bribed God to make this storm?! Of all days, today?! Normally that would be the end but suddenly they are starting to prepare and making the dish. Once more, bad guys have oversight something. They left potatoes in the room. Hence our friends can make some Hokkaido styled noodles using potatoes as a base. So good that the examiner’s clothes explode! Just short of turning green and hulking. He is forced to pass them but then accuses that it is because of Erina they got this far. However Erina brushes this aside. She only taught them the basics of potatoes but they themselves build on that to make the noodle dish. All of them got this same idea? Wow. Great minds think alike. The examiner is cowed with Erina’s leadership. In the aftermath, the friends hang out before the next departure. We see more of Erina’s guilt especially towards Mito this time. She feels bad for cutting her off after she lost her Shokugeki to Souma but Mito still treats her like a friend. Souma, Erina, Megumi and Takumi hang out together but when they decide to depart, the trains have already left!!! Wait a minute. I know Japan is punctual in their trains but this is too much! Over punctual???!!! Luckily there is a train for them to board. However Rindou is on board! She reveals that it is part of Central’s plan to separate the rebels. As they speak, they are separated in groups and their train heading towards different locations. From now on, the rebels will fight the Elite Ten! At their next location, Souma thinks Rindou will be their next opponent but she points out it isn’t her. That guy. HAYAMA???!!! Oh sh*t! This guy is the new Elite Ten member?! No wonder he has been ‘missing’. Damn, why he looks so evil now?!

Episode 16
Hayama is occupying the ninth seat but on probation basis. Even more shocking that his beloved club is closed down and he doesn’t care. This guy has totally thrown himself behind Azami’s ideals. The others are taken away to have their own tests. So it is basically a Hayama vs Souma showdown. The host is Dojima and the theme will be bear meat. I guess they will compete in 3 days so as to give Souma more time to experiment via trial and error. Souma might cook the bear meat well but he can’t get rid of its smelliness. He realizes he is up in Hayama’s alley as he needs to use spice to overcome the smelliness. Luckily Kuga is here to help. It seems that he has a hidden agenda. Although no longer on the Elite Ten, he offers to cause havoc at the exam. At least this is what he told Rindou. As Souma continues to cook, he realizes he can use the smelliness into an umami factor. But since he lacks understanding about the bear meat as an ingredient, time to go for a trip to the mountains to understand how a bear lives. Don’t worry, an expert bear hunter is with them. During their trip, Souma learns from Kuga how Hayama ended up in the Elite Ten. A Shokugeki was held to fill in the vacant spots and Hayama trumped all of them including Rentaro’s groupie. Back at the kitchen, Souma uses some medicinal berries to help make bear patty. Good as usual. Because naked guys reaction. But here comes Hayama to rain on his parade. He shows off his extremely fragrant bear meat. He knew Souma was going to use this method and honestly, Hayama’s recipe is still far superior. But you know bad guys always get cocky at this point and it’s the start of their downfall as Hayama mocks Souma will lose to him a third time and this will be his worst. Oooh. I’m so scared.

Episode 17
Noticing Hayama isn’t looking happy despite being part of the Elite Ten, he says he is doing it for Shiomi. Lucky for Souma, he gets to confirm Hayama’s story from Dojima. At least from what he heard. Things were looking up for his research club when the sponsors suddenly start pulling out. You bet your ass, it’s Azami. He confronted the bastard and of course offered him a chance for his research group to remain in the battle royale Shokugeki for the vacant Elite Ten spots. He did that but to continue achieving his goal, he must defeat Souma. Now Souma confronts Hayama and tells him off he doesn’t care about his circumstances but the way he puts it only underestimates him. He gave up what is important without a fight and he is not going to lose to a loser like that. We see the other rebels facing off with other Elite Ten members. Takumi and Megumi’s will be Rindou. Before the start of Souma and Hayama’s match, Dojima introduces them to the tasting judges. Folks, meet the loli genius twins of Cilla and Berta as well as her Leonora’s husband, Soue (Batman eyebrows?!). So we see the rest of the episode as the duo prepare their bear meat (represented as a semi-naked bare fisted boxing match?). To show how super good Hayama is, he lets the twins taste a bit of his sauce and they went into orgasmic subjugation. Hah. I bet we’re waiting for this fanservice scene. Anyway, Souma goes first and lets them taste his minced bear meat cutlet. You know it’s good when they’re reacting in such an orgasmic sexy way. But the real challenge is here now. What’s this golden shining brilliance that Hayama is going to show us?!

Episode 18
Flashback shows after Hayama joined Central, Shiomi was displeased as she warned him not to. He didn’t care and will do whatever it takes, sacrifice whatever he needs to protect their place. Hayama serves the judges his fried chicken bear?! Good enough for that naked explosion reaction. Soue even goes on to say it is better than Souma! Oh no! Is he done for? But they’re not judging everything yet. You see, there’s still the sauce to taste. Both sauces enough for more fanservice reactions but Souma’s one has surpassed the nudity and go into underwear mode?! Underwear > Nudity? Anyway, with the twins having split votes, one for Hayama and one for Souma, it all boils down to Soue. He notices something about the honey. Souma explains the honey he used that is not just another ordinary honey. Some cork tree honey. During his bear tree, he has Kuga’s lackeys collect all sorts of herbs until he found honey as the suitable base. And since there are many varieties of honey, it’s amazing how he managed to single out this one. Yeah, Hokkaido has just so much spices growing at this time of the year? We can tell from this tone that Souma is going to win because it all boils down to whom one is cooking for. Hayama lost sight of that despite creating a perfectly balanced dish. Souma didn’t make this dish to pass this exam. It was for Hayama. For him to eat and be crushed by how delicious it is. Just in time for invited Shiomi (late on arrival? The show’s over) to slap Hayama for the first time to knock him to his senses. She tells him what she was wanted was not the research nor lab equipment but to see him enjoying cooking in his own way and craft. He is still a kid so he should not concern himself with such adult responsibilities. I guess when you’re a teen, you’re somewhat stuck in between… Hayama has realized so much that he is starting to say this must be a sign from God?! Soue chooses Souma to officially declare him the winner. In the aftermath, Souma offers Hayama and Shiomi to stay at Polar Star since they will lose their place. But he declines. Suddenly Erina barges in to check on Souma. Relieved he passed? Azami’s aide, Sean Aida interrupts her. He points out all the other rebels have lost devastatingly and will be expelled. It is the same for Hayama. As agreed, he will be expelled in the event if he losses. No wonder Erina looking so dishevelled.

Episode 19
Wow. Erina is so concerned that she rushes to Megumi and Takumi’s side. Wait. They passed?! Rindou tasted their dishes and it tastes good enough to pass. Hey, they are supposed to face the Elite Ten but nobody said it was a competition. As long as it’s good, she’s okay with it. With this little lifeline, Souma has this idea for them to challenge the Elite Ten seats. If their side make up the majority, they can rescind the expulsion of their friends. Erina is desperate to go talk to Azami. Guess what? He is here to check on the test sides. Even if Erina pleads, Azami will not give in. That would defeat the purpose of this, right? So Souma challenges his team to his for a Shokugeki for the Elite Ten. As expected, Azami declines since he has nothing worth negotiating for. Oh, now he does. Because Jouichirou and Senzaemon are back. He suggests a team Shokugeki and will wager his ideals. Should Jouichirou lose, he will abandon all his ideals and become Azami’s slave. He likes the idea and agrees. Details to be sorted out later so I guess it’s time for special training. Later Dojima reveals he was the one who set this up as Azami would most likely accept a challenge if Jouichirou is involved. A brief explanation about the team Shokugeki. Although it will be individual battles, the winners will continue to fight winners until the losing side has no more winners. The other unique thing about this team battle is that you can also help support other team members despite facing off with your direct opponent. So the mock battle with Senzaemon as the judge, we have team Dojima with Megumi and Takumi as well as team Jouichirou with Souma and Erina. They are to make a French national dish and they cannot talk! Team Dojima looks to be cooperating fine but Jouichirou and Souma can’t stop arguing! One warning from Senzaemon… One more time and he’ll disqualify them. Being serious this time, the kids observe the version of the dish the adults are making and they realize they are being tested.

Episode 20
We see a little on Takumi and how he has improved during Stagiaire. When the cooking ends, Senzaemon says that both teams will taste and judge each other’s cooking. So what is the verdict? Surprisingly, they point to the other team as the victor! Then they go on to explain why the other dish is much better than theirs. This is taking humbleness to beyond whatever level. This training is part of Senzaemon’s plan to have each member experience the other’s abilities first-hand as teamwork is important in team Shokugeki. Of course the most important change we see is that Erina had fun during it all. At the next stop, Souma’s side meets Azami and the Elite Ten as they lay down the rules for the team Shokugeki. One of them includes they do not necessarily need to have the same number of members facing off with each other. Of course this means Central is at an advantage as they have more numbers. The wager is for the Elite Ten seats. The side that wins gets it. Takumi reminds them that this Shokugeki is to get their friends back. Hence all the expelled rebels’ student handbook in their possession, they will also use that to wager in this battle. Azami then declares Erina is supposed to fight on their side as she is part of Central. It took her some guts to admit that she wants to be on this side. To do so, she quits her seat. Therefore Azami puts an additional penalty for her. Expulsion will just be too easy. If her side loses, she will forever aid Central and obey her father. Forever. See you at the finals. With everyone praising how Erina is now acting like the queen she is supposed to be, except for Souma because he still believes the top spot to be his. But eventually since this rebellion is started and motivated by Erina, they entrust their student handbook to her.

Episode 21
Flashback time to understand what really happened. We start when Jouichirou and Dojima are in just their second year and just obtained the Elite Ten’s sixth and seventh seat respectively. Azami was a junior fan boy of Jouichirou although he looked and sounded like a wuss. Jouichirou is making waves everywhere he goes with his eccentric cooking. This earns him the right to enter a prestigious international cooking competition called BLUE (Bishoku Leading Under-35 Entrance). However some jealous students think he bribed his way and hence challenged him to a Shokugeki. Make that a team Shokugeki. Although he accepted, Jouichirou did it alone and refused Dojima and Azami’s help. Yeah, he slain over 50 challengers! Is this even cooking?! That’s where he got his demon nickname. By the time they are third years, Jouichirou and Dojima became first and second of the Elite Ten respectively. But the more Jouichirou treads on, the more praises, tributes, accolades, honours, awards and victories he got from everybody, the more you can see he is losing himself. Slowly falling down the insanity spiral of pressure just to evolve and find something new. Then one day he just went missing for an important BLUE match. Everyone started looking for him and Dojima found him sitting in a Totsuki cooking hall. Dojima knew by the way he talked, he wasn’t a demon and just a delicate man like everyone else. He regretted letting Jouichirou get ahead of them too far. Senzaemon feared the worst that his great talent had backfired. He suggested Jouichirou to leave the country and leave cooking for a while. He took up that offer and that was the last time Dojima saw him as a student. As for Azami, he is probably acting this way as vengeance of the past as Jouichirou was his idol and his breakdown hit him hard too. Looking back, Azami probably needed more help than Jouichirou. Many years later when Dojima received a surprise call from Jouichirou that he is back in Japan and opened his own diner, that guy also already had a son. Dojima believes Souma saved him from despair and is grateful for that.

Episode 22
It’s time for the final battle. Our expelled rebels are given a chance to watch and cheer on our heroes but from behind bars?! We can clearly see the hostile reception of the ‘home crowd’ as they support and cheer for Central. Also, Souma has gathered a few allies to join them to fight against the Elite Ten. They are Isshiki, Kuga, Megishima and Mimasaka. The first round includes these matches: Megishima vs Shouko Kaburagi (new Elite Ten member), Isshiki vs Jurio Shiratsu (also new Elite Ten Member) and Souma vs Nene. Nene is specialized in soba and guess what? Souma had to pick the soba theme for his cooking. And with everyone explaining how a thoroughbred Nene is, gosh, it’s like they don’t know Souma or have faith in him because they’re like seeing he is going to lose! How many times have we seen him comeback from the odds stacked against him? Sure, he lost once or twice but in this very important match with your enrolment on the line? So I’m skipping the explanation of the soba noodles they’re making since Souma is going for instant soba and is making it the way his diner does, hence earning everyone’s laughter and further enhancing the negativity from his supporters he is going to lose. Have faith, people! Since we can’t put all the focus on Souma and Nene, we also shift to Isshiki and Shiratsu whose theme is eel. Shiratsu badmouths Isshiki about having no pride and it seems Isshiki doesn’t care or brushes it off until he badmouths his Polar Star members. Then he gets real serious and you know sh*t is going to hit the fan and he is going to pay with his blood.

Episode 23
Okay. We’re going into a short back story that Isshiki and Nene’s family share some history together. So they’re basically like childhood friends? Nene is not impressed still. We are also introduced to WGO (World Gourmet Organization) Bookmen who will be the judges for this team Shokugeki. You can tell they are the top of the gourmet world and hence our assurance that their love for the best food will not be biased. Shiratsu finishes his eel dish first. Have a taste. Good as usual. I’ll spare you all the explanations because I also don’t get it. Now it’s Isshiki’s turn. The Polar Star guys notice that Isshiki stole and used their prototype ingredients in his cooking. Wow. He must really have confidence in their cooking. Have a taste. Good as usual. But the clincher is when Isshiki offers it to Shiratsu and if he finds it delicious, he must apologize to his Polar Star mates. And the results… Too delicious to resist! An apology on the way and without a doubt, the judges confirm Isshiki as the winner. Shiratsu might have been defeated but he looks so happy. Like a gay… With everyone praising Isshiki, except for Nene who isn’t still impressed as she always believed he was never serious. Flashback shows he aced in everything that took her a long time to master. She started feeling miserable. Jealous. That’s why she wants him to give it all he’s got when their fight comes next. Unfortunately he has to shoot her down that will never come because she is going to lose to Souma. Damn this guy puts too much confidence in his juniors.

Episode 24
As usual, we start off with showing how great Nene’s lineage and her perfection due to obsession. Meanwhile Souma is like so casual that even his own comrades don’t have faith in him. Yeah, it’s that pattern again. Anyway, Nene finishes first and awes the judges with her ‘time travelling’ soba because they’re so addicted to it that they didn’t realize they have finished it and hence restarting this loop again and again. Next is Souma. Everyone is expecting him to be crushed but the judges are also displaying satisfying reactions. Something to do with the flour he used as well as the various seasonings he drew inspiration from the various instant packed foods. The judge has unanimously voted on a winner. But so as to drag out the drama because we know Souma is going to win and justify why Nene lost, so it all boils down to the aroma of the soba. Nene was unable to maintain it unlike Souma. Heck, I thought it was because Nene served hers first. But then more technical explanation how Souma had taken into account the hall conditions and hence chose this alternative from the start. Nene never thought of an alternative because she has been trained from young the best soba is the way her family makes them. Unlike Souma who has to adapt to make the best dishes for customers to walk in. So that’s the difference. It’s Souma’s victory! You can feel crushed now, Nene. Oh, about the other match, Megishima wins too! F*ck! We didn’t even get to know what they’re cooking, not even see the judges tasting and suddenly he wins! Who the f*ck is this Shouko girl?! Felt just like a pawn… Yeah, I suppose we don’t have time for ‘unimportant’ characters. With our rebels having their morale boosted with this 3-0 win, we see Azami’s frustrated face for the first time. His world is being dismantled step by step.

Cooking Up A Storm On The Gravy Train
WTF?! WHAT THE HELL????!!!!! ARE THEY REALLY DOING THIS AGAIN????!!! LEAVING US ON A VERY TANTALIZING CLIFF-HANGER????!!! WTF, GUYS??????!!!!!! Sighs… Sorry if I sounded angry and disappointed, not at the overall story and this season but how they handled it and once more we are forced to put up with another ‘unfinished’ season and business. This time only worse because there is no news if there would be another season. Yes, you heard that right. As of now, there is no news if there should be a continuation at all. By right it should but even the end card was ambiguous as hell and didn’t give much hints if there would be any. By right it should. By right it should. BY RIGHT IT SHOULD! I thought Azami was just kidding when he said it was time to take a break. I didn’t know it was this indefinite break too. To put it in another perspective, it is like the train is running along smoothly and suddenly we see a damsel being tied ahead on the tracks. Oh no! Are we going to run over her or is there somebody going to switch the tracks and change the path of the train? Stay tuned… Indefinitely…

Okay. But aside the ‘fiasco’ of whether or not this series should be continued (by right it should), this season is actually quite okay and interesting. As good and interesting as the first half of the third season, if I should say. Although as usual there are those longwinded draggy food explanations that I don’t really understand and the plot actually hardly moved along (basically this entire season is mostly about riding the train in Hokkaido and fending off challenges by Central to oust them), overall this season still rocks and it blasted away all the disappointment that was that boring Stagiaire which now feels like a distant memory.

But still I thought that more could have been shown and developed if they shorten some of the draggy food explanations but then again, without such segments, this series which strives a lot on this would have lost its shine. Hence it was a dilemma for me to wish to cut short such parts and have the pace go at a quicker pace. Because just look at this season, it was mainly to set up for Souma to get his sweet revenge and first win over Hayama. But I don’t think with Souma finally winning over him makes him better than Hayama. Remember, Hayama beat Souma twice so the score is now 2-1. But because Souma is the main character, as long as he defeats his opponent, that’s the end of it. Yeah, the opponent can never challenge him again and get his shot of glory and revenge. Only main characters can do that. You can still lose and still be relevant until you win. Damn cheating. No wonder this is why Souma is so good. Also because he never gives up. And you noticed the final arc of this season just focused on the first team Shokugeki match. Only the first one! Oh boy. They are sure taking their time.

There’s nothing much for me to comment here because at this point and this season, it would be a repeat of my sentiments of last season. The biggest change as seen is Erina herself and even though I didn’t get my wish to see her become a damsel in distress and Souma her charming heroic prince, at least we have seen her grown stronger and was able to stand on her own to defy Azami and follow her true heart. I have to admit that this season I have respected Erina a lot more than any other. It is also nice to see some background on Jouichirou who has been one of the biggest mysteries of the series. Shedding some light on what happened makes us understand better of how it led up to all this sh*t and that Azami isn’t just some crazy megalomaniac who wants to conquer the gourmet world his style. Okay, he still is but at least you know that there is still hope to bring him back to the correct path. I am sure we can predict how everything will end because it will be just a big shocker if our heroes lose, right? That is so unthinkable!!! We know they will win. We just want to see how.

Hence the only ‘surprise’ for me was when our rebels start to take on the Elite Ten themselves because I was thinking and unsure if all of them could actually win. Because of the stakes of them being expelled, I was hesitant if any one of them could lose (save for Souma because he is main character). But if all of them win, it would have made the Elite Ten looked like a bunch of sissies. You know, they’re such great cooks and they lose to a bunch of raw unpolished rebels? Unthinkable. So when most of them lost, it was a bit of a ‘shocker’ but then plot twist. A chance for our heroes to help redeem everything in this final with everything at stake. That’s why I didn’t like this cliff-hanger. Everything was too important to be left like that.

It’s such a waste that with so many other characters, some didn’t get to flex their cooking muscles in this season. Like Kuga and Mimasaka whom I am sure would bring some interesting twist to the table since Kuga is now fighting on the opposite side and I wonder if Mimasaka have stalked every member of the Elite Ten just to copy their abilities just in case he faced any one of them. It feels wasted for him that this season his role was just to show his face even if it is to set up for the next season (if that ever comes around). It’s also sad we can’t see some of the Elite Ten in action like Rindou and Momo. I suppose the most insulting one was Megishima and Shouko match that we don’t even get to see. Because damn time is running out. No wonder Souma was chosen in this first round battle. All seemed too convenient to let our titular main character flex his muscles, shed first blood from this warm-up and keep the Elite Ten on their guard. Imagine if Souma was replaced by somebody else. Doesn’t feel it would cut it there. At least to end this season. Or it could be the ‘main character’ and ‘final battle’ would fall onto Erina?

I still stick to my own opinions that despite all these chefs making such great foods and gourmet, sometimes it feels like they are only fit for higher class people or those with lots of money. Sure, they put in their heart and soul to create such goodness but if you are going to do that for the simple masses, I wonder if it is possible to maintain all that passion in the long run. I’m sure they will. At least in the context of this anime. But in reality, casual and ordinary people like you and me who can’t even taste the difference in the dishes would probably be no different to us. It’s either good or bad. Cut out all the explanations in between because damn, we just want so taste something good and fill our stomachs. Yeah, I don’t know what the dish is made out nor where the ingredients come from. I just know how to eat it, that’s all. Why make it so complicated?! It’s only (good) food! Like WTF, man. We only came to eat but found ourselves busting our clothes and doing naked embarrassing reactions to approve just how freaking good it was!

Also, the subject of how good or authentic a certain food is, is still as subjective as art itself. So who has the right of authority to say that this is the best food ever? In comparison to what? On what base? Even if WGO is the God level of food tasting and maintain their impartiality, who are they to say that this certain dish is better than this? If the judges come from different countries and cultures, their opinions on what constitutes the best fried chicken may differ even if they are from the same organization and teaching. Maybe I’m not really proficient in the culinary world and just a simple glutton so I don’t really understand. Because when everybody at that high level is competing at the Shokugeki level, it feels like it all boils down to what details to nit-pick and pinpoint that minor flaw that would be the difference between victory and loss. They and everyone else can say a certain dish like this and so will only be considered the best but to me, grandma’s chicken soup will always be the best. Get the point? Besides, the irony of having a strict guideline and criteria of what is the best isn’t good either. Having a vague one is better because it expands your horizon and experience, don’t you think?

But I have noticed that I am somewhat ‘immune’ to the delicious foods they served this season. Even if they still look 2D good as always. In previous seasons I would be drooling my saliva for most of the dishes but this time round, I don’t feel that excitement. Probably the long explanations? Or is it because of unfamiliar food I have never eaten before like bear met and eel meat?

This season’s opening theme, Symbol by Luck Life is a rock outfit that somewhat fits the theme of this season. The same can be said for the ending theme, Atria by Fo’xTails. But just a bit heavy on the bass lines. I guess they really want to nail in the train theme for this season and hence you’ll see lots of trains and tracks among the weirdest stuffs shown in the opening and ending credits as well as being some tough ass fighter or something. Is it double KO?

Overall, this season is still very much enjoyable and its only real downfall is how it ended on yet another cliff-hanger with no closure in sight. That’s the train wreck from it all. After all, this important battle where everything is at stake will take a while with everyone fighting out the best they have. Hopefully they will have another season to continue this because by right they should. And hopefully it won’t take too long as well since waiting in between your meals would just irk the customer and they’ll get up and leave. Without paying. With this hype and excitement still fresh, let’s really hope that this wish would come true and the foodgasm train will continue to chug along.

Shokugeki No Souma S3

April 27, 2018

From the looks of the second season’s OVAs, it sure whipped my appetite and motivation for Shokugeki No Souma S3. Hopefully with the introduction of new characters and possible challenges our titular hero needs to face to bring whatever changes and realization that is needed to revolutionize the food industry and Totsuki, I’m praying hard this season won’t bomb like the second. I know, it is a hard feeling to shake off. A great first season but a second disappointing one makes you a bit cautious if you should try the third. But then again, like all heroes need some sort of revival and comeback. Could this season be it for Souma?

Episode 1
Megumi talks to Souma as they reminisce the events that transpired during the OVA. The part where they met the Elite Ten and Souma throwing down the challenge for a Shokugeki but got rejected. But now they have to concentrate on the upcoming Moon Festival for the autumn. It is a 5 day event whereby the sales rankings are announced at the end of every day. Of course Souma thinks of participating and prove himself worthy to challenge Kuga. Since he specializes in Chinese cuisine, Megumi introduces him to Miyoko who also specializes in that area. She then takes him to Kuga’s club, the Chinese Cuisine Research Society (CCRS). Man, are those human clones machines?! Tossing dry rice in perfect sync?! Kuga tells him he is going to serve mapo tofu at the festival and then proceeds to make a spicy one to let him try and realize what he is up against. Of course it is nothing like his diner. Kuga’s ‘robots’ have trained till literally perfection! Of course Souma won’t be intimidated by that. He will beat him with his own cooking. As they leave, Miyoko warns Souma there is another factor that has him lagging behind Souma: Reputation. Kuga’s name is also well known outside Totsuki and hence loyal repeat customers. Polar Star residents will have their own booth at the festival too but of course Souma can’t participate with them. He learns from Isshiki that the area a stall sells is also important. The festival is divided into 3 areas. The main area is the most common as this is where many people gather and the foods are cheap. The central area is where foods are mid-range price and need some professional preparation. Finally the top area known as Yamanote is where many of the Elite Ten will be located. Yup, expensive dishes. Unless you are well known, attracting customers is going to be tough. After racking his brains for the best strategy, Souma finally hands in his application form. Everyone is shocked to learn he will be putting his stall right across Kuga’s CCRS in the central area. So his plan is to steal his customers? Then he is reminded if his stall loses money, he will be expelled. Say what?! Oh sh*t!!! Too late to change things now…

Episode 2
With Mitsuru’s help, Souma is able to advertise in the magazine that he will be putting up a Chinese cuisine battle next to Kuga’s stall. Alice complains to Erina that she now wants to participate in the festival despite the deadline has already passed. Souma passes by and has them come try out his mapo tofu. Nice but this isn’t anywhere near that would beat Kuga. Erina explains the significance difference of his dish that lacks ma and la. Others weigh in their thoughts on spiciness like it is perceived as pain but can also be pleasure while in medicinal cuisine it can help reduce stress. Thus Kuga is like turning people into masochists, loving his extreme spiciness despite being too hot to handle. Souma doesn’t have to man his stall alone. Megumi will help him out. So it’s only the 2 of them? Let’s hope it doesn’t turn into some romantic mess… But Megumi becomes Souma’s guinea pig to test his spicy dishes. I hope she won’t die from it all… Keep trying… Meanwhile Hayama is shocked to find Alice and Ryo have hijacked his stall. Apparently she convinced Shiomi about creating memories for Hayama for his school life. Her maternal instincts kicked in and allowed it. Too bad Alice won’t be facing off with Souma as she wanted since Hayama’s booth is in the main area. During the setting up of the stalls, more problems for Hayama as Shiomi allows Alice to do anything she wants. This is going to get messy. Kuga uses his budget to turn his stall into a giant Chinese restaurant! Souma also needs something for his stall to look attractive. He gets Miyoko’s help and permission to use a couple of stone ovens. Before the festival opens, all the students gather for an assembly and sing Totsuki’s anthem. Only Souma doesn’t know?! Feeling so left out? As it begins, there is a long queue as expected lining up outside Kuga’s stall. Souma is selling black pepper buns that is a popular Taiwanese treat.

Episode 3
Hayama is really in trouble. Alice bought wrong ingredients and needs an outlet to plug her centrifuge machine. At the end of the first day, Souma has not many visitors. Kuga rakes in heaps and stacks of tickets (used as the festival’s currency). Megumi is panicking but Souma is laughing it off. The top 3 sales are announced. In the main area, the Aldini brothers take top spot. Kuga takes first place by a mile for the central area while Momo takes control at Yamanote. Erina blows her top learning Souma, Megumi, Hayama, Ryo and Alice lost money on their first day. And to think they were finalists at the Autumn Elections. Oh, Souma is dead last for the central area’s rankings. But that doesn’t stop him from being casually having everyone eat his leftover buns as give their opinions on it. After the second day, it seems Souma also sold noodles and he went up a few places in the rankings. Kuga still dominates by a mile, though. Night fall, he and Megumi take their stall to the main area and let other people try it for free. They bump into Nao selling her grotesque smelly food and it sounds like a horrifying nightmare that they want to create the most grotesque smelliest ‘masterpiece’?! Anyway, the reason Souma is carting around like this is to see the customers’ reacting to his dishes. As the customers have been eating all day, the noodles with black pepper seems to be a great way to end the day. This is something similar to the popular Taiwanese danzi noodles that allows one to continue eating well without getting tired. Souma analyses his stone ovens that should attract people but it didn’t. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine his buns as tasty unless you see someone eating it unlike Kuga’s mapo tofu. You can tell it is delicious just by looking at it. He also notes his diner’s mapo tofu was never that spicy because Jouichirou wanted flavours that all regulars would enjoy. He thinks of building on that mapo tofu and adding some new ideas. This means more sleepless night for guinea pig Megumi. Looks like Souma goes back to his diner for this experiment. Mayu thinks he is back and enters the diner only to see something horrifying.

Episode 4
Kuga is trying to ‘persuade’ Souma to close his stall. You think he would give up just like that? As per requested by Souma, Tomita has delivered tables and seats that were just gathering dust in the shopping district’s warehouse for his stall. Souma lets him try his mapo noodles with a giant meatball but is told to eat the noodles first. While doing so, Souma notices Kuga too has a problem. The long queue is getting unbearable for those waiting and those who are seated are being rushed off after finishing. It is about time Tomita digs into the meatball and when he does, the fragrant smell attracts all those in the queue. There’s an explanation to what he made but let’s cut it short and says it is a great revision of his mapo tofu dish. With many of the customers now turning to Souma’s stall, Kuga is not panicking yet because Souma’s stall has lack of manpower and will soon crumble. Yes, that is the very problem Souma is now facing as the queue is building up and the orders keep piling. Don’t worry. Here comes additional help: Mimasaka! Oh, remember the great imitator! Previously Souma sought his help but to perfect his profiling, he needed to use his diner. Souma gave him the keys and hence that horrifying Mimasaka pretending to be Souma that Mayu saw! But with more customers, it looks like they may not be able to handle it especially Megumi who is nearly at her limit. Souma wants to cover for her but luckily he doesn’t have to. Because here comes volunteer help from Mito and the Aldini brothers! As it is getting dark, they have set up colourful lanterns to light up the place and attract more customers! Kuga realizes Souma has spent 4 days in creating his very own stall. At the end of the day, Souma’s stall tops the day’s sales and pushes Kuga’s stall down to second. You mad, bro? Meanwhile, Alice’s stall is also doing well making a comeback. She used her 3D printer to print chocolate that melts over Hayama’s curry rice. Curious customers try and love it.

Episode 5
Kuga’s failure means he gets lots of teasing from Rindou. But after the final day as the total sales are tallied up, Kuga still wins the central area. Flashback shows Kuga challenged Tsukasa to a Shokugeki and flat out lost. So he made a promise if he managed to top sales in the central area for all days, he would have the right to challenge him to another Shokugeki. However with Souma breaking that combo, he will not get his Shokugeki. And Souma too since he couldn’t dethrone Kuga. So no Shokugeki for anybody. Rindou then brings Souma and Megumi to Yamanote area. It’s such a posh and expensive place. Don’t worry. It will be on her. She brings them to Tsukasa’s location where he is the only one who prepares and cooks from start to finish. Also because he has panic attacks worried if something may go wrong. All unfounded… When they try his sakura shrimp, it is of course so good that we get that explosive naked reaction. Tsukasa explains about his cooking that involves erasing all evidence of his involvement and focuses solely on the quality of ingredients by enhancing them. Souma notices over the course of this talk, Tsukasa has never asked how their food taste. It could mean he is very confident of how it turned out and clearly Souma acknowledges he is way out of his league. Meanwhile at Erina’s place, she has been keeping a reserved table free in hopes that Jouichirou would come based on their old promise when she becomes a good chef. I guess this means she hasn’t. Suddenly an unexpected guest comes in. Who is this evil looking man? Oh, it’s her father, Azami. He is so badass that Erina is quivering around him. He is supposed to be exiled from Totsuki. He believes Erina’s cooking is not made for these lowlifes and some high and mighty version of what cooking is supposed to be. He forces Erina to cook for him to show how much she has improved. When Souma comes in to share his bun with Erina, why is it that most of the others look to him like as though he is a saviour? Anyway, being the dense guy he is (or is he?), he wants to share a table with Azami. Azami loses interests and leaves. He is confronted by Senzaemon outside, reminding him about how he has been also banned from the family. They clash on their ideas on what Totsuki is supposed to become so Azami shows him a letter. Because the Elite Ten holds equal and sometimes more power than Totsuki’s director, it seems a majority of them have revolted and agreed to install Azami as Totsuki’s new director! Tsukasa and Rindou are among those who supported this.

Episode 6
Jouichirou so happen to bump into Dojima who happen to get a call updating him about Totsuki’s new director. And that’s how they know. With Azami as the new director abuzz all around Totsuki, some like him but those who know better stay cautious. His first duty is to relief Hisako as Erina’s secretary because daddy will now forever be with her. Creepy! Erina cannot say no whatsoever because she just can’t. Creepy. Senzaemon is so free that he could pay Souma a visit and talk to him. He tells him Jouichirou who was the second seat in the Elite Ten and was encouraged by him to let Souma enrol at Totsuki. He asks Souma’s opinion of Erina. If I may put it in a word of my own: A b*tch. Senzaemon notes Erina used to laugh a lot. Till dad started brainwashing her with fear to train her God’s tongue. Yeah, it’s pretty traumatic for a kid. Senzaemon found out about it and exiled him. But he remained active in some selective wealthy community but never expected him to stage a coup with the Elite Ten. Knowing Erina will be imprisoned by him again since his influence over her is still great, he pleads Souma to save her. Well, this Nakiri family isn’t his problem because his goal remains the same and it is to let Erina say his food is delicious. I guess that’s a roundabout way of saying he’ll do it. Senzaemon notes he was right to sought Jouichirou’s advice. Alice and Hisako help take Erina and run away from her room. But the problem is where she will stay note. Their estates are heavily involved with the Nakiri family so she will be instantly noticed. A nicely timed Megumi appearing means Polar Star Dorm is nearby. The residents are worried they’ll be accomplices but after hearing from Hisako about Erina’s sob story, now they all welcome her like a friend and vow to fight the tyranny! They throw her a party but can they stand her criticisms? In fact, they ‘love’ it because how often to you get a person of her talent to taste your cooking? Here’s more cooking for her! Azami knows Erina has run away but doesn’t do anything for now because it is more important to prepare his revolution. And that means he shows the Totsuki staffs about his proposal to turn the place into some food utopia. But those with a sane mind can see it is a dystopia that will split the gourmet world.

Episode 7
Azami makes his first speech towards the students. First, he officially disbands all the clubs and societies. Violation means expulsion. Second, there will be a new sole decision making committee called Central. It is handpicked and the Elite Ten are part of it. What I understand is that you cannot do your own cooking and all cooking are dictated by what Central says it is. This means there is only one method for cooking instead of from various ideas. The logic is that everyone can learn and benefit equally, hence no more unnecessary competitions and expulsions. They can all learn directly from the recipes and ideas worthy of the Elite Ten. With agents going around with official documents to close down clubs, even Polar Star isn’t spared. Eizan comes down to personally hand it to them. Of course Souma won’t let this go. How about a Shokugeki? Of course. Although Eizan has no obligations to accept, he is after all swamped with Shokugeki challenges from clubs trying to prevent their shutdown. Surprisingly, he accepts them all! Speaking of which, there is one today and it is broadcast live. Watch it and be warned. So Eizan goes up against the president of some skewer club. Souma feels weird that Eizan isn’t focused on cooking and even if he wins, the other clubs wouldn’t back down. Once the time limit is done, it seems Eizan scores absolute victory when the judges didn’t even taste their food! Yup, he bought out the judges! Poor guy just got expelled. Thanks to this ‘warning’, all subsequent Shokugeki challenges are cancelled. I guess they got cold feet. So while everyone wallows in hopelessness, we see Erina’s depressed face, Polar Star reminiscing about the good ol’ days and then jinx it by getting emotional and crying about losing their ‘home’. And more Erina sad face like as though she is at fault. In some ways I guess so. You think this fired up Souma? Well, he went to challenge Eizan to a Shokugeki despite all that. He claims he isn’t doing it for Polar Star but himself because this is the place he will master his cooking. So Polar Star guys are worried he is doing this alone when they are ‘family’? Before the match starts, Eizan warns Souma that he has sent his gang to vacate Polar Star. Yeah, he played dirty by bringing forward the deadline and by the time this Shokugeki is over, he is going to see Souma’s sad face seeing the sad faces of his roommates. Boo hoo!

Episode 8
Souma makes his gyoza with chicken while Eizan stands idly and mocks him because the results are already in the bag, right? Well, that’s the start of Eizan’s downfall because he gets a call from his goons that the Polar Star guys are fighting back! Fumio provided them with construction helmets and they have water hose and smoke screen to stave off those jerks. With Souma mocking back if Eizan wants to talk to him, do it with his cooking, Eizan gets serious. So we hear Eizan’s past achievements of being the best consultant ever that earned himself tons of money and Totsuki lots of connections, hence his nickname The Alchemist. He could have ranked higher in the Elite Ten had he concentrated on his cooking. Eizan finishes and lets the judges taste his chicken rice. Worthy of his seat as expected. Eizan thinks of ending the Shokugeki but Souma wonders if he is scared to taste his. I mean, he proclaimed he has won so what has he got to lose by trying his, right? Took the bait. So as Souma adds weird ingredients like Parmesan cheese, he earns the mockery of the judges for ‘tainting’ the chicken flavour. He pours some sauce as the finishing touches. He lets Eizan taste. Long awkward silence. Could it be it is delicious? He lets the judges try but one of them refuses. The others in that case wants to take his portion! Can’t resist now, can they?! Souma reveals his secret ingredient in the sauce which turns out to be tomato ketchup. This idea didn’t come from him but from the brainstorming with other Polar Star guys. In the end, the stubborn judge gives in and like everyone else, your body can’t lie to good cooking. All judges vote for Souma! Eizan is seething in anger as Souma reminds him with the results Polar Star will not be shut down. That’s not all. He then throws a warning to everyone watching to ever mess with his buddies. To that and he will come at them with all he has got. Even if you are from the Elite Ten.

Episode 9
Not sure if those hooligans took their time leaving Polar Star or the Shokugeki hall was just close by. Because Souma is back when most of them are still leaving. Anyway everyone is glad, mad and happy that Souma has returned and save their precious dorm. What else to do but to party and celebrate! Isshiki returns after a short absence. He was laying low because had he helped, Azami’s administration might make things more difficult for them. But thanks to Souma’s victory, new rules have been drafted to allow Shokugeki for clubs facing closure and to be judged fairly. A few days later, Isshiki is summoned before Azami. He wants him to step down as an Elite Ten. Not only him but those who opposed his plan. They are Kuga and Tosuke Megishima. But shouldn’t Erina resign too? He believes she will come back to him. Azami knows Isshiki has been secretly going around to gain allies to draft laws for Shokugeki matches. Now Azami has to send his ‘soldiers’ to face them. With many clubs requesting for Shokugeki, Polar Storm guys split themselves into groups to go watch the Elite Ten battle it out in simultaneous matches. Of course all of them won unanimously. I wonder how long Souma can hold off his urge to do a Shokugeki. There are a few handpicked new Central members by Azami too. They are Rentaro Kusunoki, Kumai Shigemichi, Mea Yanai and Rui Kofuru. Souma and Takumi can’t help tease and almost pick a fight with Rentaro because of his arrogant and confronting ways. But it is time for their next Shokugeki match against Ryo and Alice. Apparently Alice was okay with her whatever club she hijacked get disbanded. But Ryo got worked up when Rentaro called him a small fry and so it’s on.

Episode 10
We take a short detour to see other Shokugeki matches in other halls. In short, Central unanimously owns everybody. Back to Ryo and Rentaro’s salmon dish battle. As usual, we see how they prepare the dish and everyone being the expert commenting on how it is done. In the end, judges have a taste of Rentaro’s Salmon Confit Flamme and Ryo’s Coulibiac. They are both so superior and on the surface it looked like this is going to be a draw. But taking a closer look, there is one clear winner in the sense that the winner managed to prevent the loss of the salmon’s umami. While it sounded like the judges are praising Rentaro for using his cryomill and olive oil with his flaming technique, the surprise turn of events when all judges vote Ryo as the clear winner. Something about his double layer brioche using crepe and dried bacon powder. And more crap about how Ryo’s dish bring about the unevenness that it would be better if we viewers had just taste it instead of being explained to. We also see how Ryo had improved and wasn’t the same person during the Autumn Elections because during the Stagiaire he had the misfortune to work in some Indian restaurant who was meticulous about spices. That changed him for the better.

Episode 11
Azami was watching this match and despite reminding Alice that their family has this responsibility in advancing the gourmet dining world, Alice is bold enough to tell him off she doesn’t like him and doesn’t share his vision. She will not let him have his way with Totsuki and Erina. Oh, Erina is listening. How convenient. It might look like a reconciliation is on the cards but if you know them, it will usually turn into one of their usual arguments. Too bad all other clubs that have lost will have their buildings demolished. With Central taken over, class formats have also changed. Teachers who do not disagree with the teaching method are fired. Like in Souma’s class, his substitute teacher is Tsukasa! First he calls for an assistant in which Souma is the only one with balls to do so. Souma is able to remember all his orders and keep up with his pace as they make a great French dish. Now Tsukasa wants everyone to replicate the same in the same amount of time! At the end of class, Tsukasa is impressed with his skills and wants him to join Central. Of course he rejects. However as Tsukasa tells him his cooking is unnecessary and will be just his assistant to further improve his cooking. Souma thinks his skills are better than him so Tsukasa challenges him right now. He is putting his Elite Ten seat on the line but if Souma loses, he will join Central as his assistant. Uhm, isn’t it either way Souma will be part of Central because if he is the first seat, he is technically still under Central? Anyway Souma will not let this chance slip and agrees. Tsukasa pulls out all his got as he uses venison to create his French dish. Even Erina, Hisako and Megumi spying outside all fall for his supreme aroma. So good! Souma then asks him why he joined Central as he is fine by his own. Of course this means asking Central’s true objective. It couldn’t be just taking over Totsuki, right? Tsukasa without batting an eyelid reveals the true overall goal: To close down all subpar diners in Japan! This means everyone will be eating fancy gourmet food? Sure. I don’t mind. If you make it dirt cheap. Hence this takeover of Totsuki is just the first step for a nationwide shutdown. But what pisses off Souma is how Tsukasa also mentions this means all small diners are unnecessary as well as those small places that hold great memories for everyone. Souma will not join Central or be his assistant. He will win this match.

Episode 12
So who are to judge the dishes? Pull in those spying girls. Souma pulls off his unpredictability by adding chestnuts and grilling venison meat over charcoal, which generally doesn’t fare well in French cuisine. But how come it tastes so exceptionally good? Because he added coffee. Something like that. Now it is Tsukasa’s turn. His double venison meat has twin flavours, French pepper and berries. Megumi and Hisako are in a dilemma to choose. I mean, they really can’t as both are so good. Also it would be bad if Souma loses and he ends up in Central. But Erina knows a clear winner. One that brings out the flavour of the venison: Tsukasa. Oh no! Souma loses?! Oh dear Souma, have you forgotten the winning rule to not let your dish get taste first?! However Tsukasa believes his predictability will not make him a good assistant. He would get worried to much! Besides, this isn’t a real Shokugeki so he calls it a draw. Souma despite admitting his loss, continues to sulk. Erina wonders if Tsukasa is showing him pity but he notes his cooking will not change no matter how much he tries to force it. A few days later, Souma’s friends continue their winning streak against the Central members. Yeah, they all won 3-0. So as they celebrate their glorious perfect victories back at Polar Star, look who comes to visit? Azami! He came all the way here to get Erina? She would have gone with him had Fumio and Isshiki reveal other info about him. He used to go by the name Nakamura until he married into the Nakiri family. He is an alumni of Polar Star and occupied the third seat of Elite Ten behind Dojima and Jouichirou. Everyone knows he plans to destroy Polar Star. I guess he’ll come back another day. Souma asks if he had felt no connection to this place. Azami believes this place is not the world he seeks. At least not now. He claims the golden age of Polar Star was when Jouichirou was around. He is the only chef whom he looks up. Souma reveals that is his father. See the shock on Erina’s face? Azami adds that his revolution is a salvation plan is to the culinary world that ruined Jouichirou. He feels lucky he gets to show the fruits of his labour to his son.

Menu Overhaul!
Yes! Definitely! Continue! You must continue!!! But why the heck do they need to split this third season into 2 cours? Are they trying to make me wait a gap season knowing that this season was awesome enough and therefore it will make the appetite grow and the dish will taste much better when it comes around? Okay. I think I can wait then. It is a very good thing that this season is quite interesting and hence blown away all my scepticism and doubts that I initially had at the beginning. And now I can look forward to the next season without any uncertainty clouding my mind! Hah. Being swayed by emotions after every season is sure a complex thing. So having that boring Stagiaire in the second season sure did lower my expectations. Imagine if it was so good, the hurdles would have been higher and you know what they say, the bigger they are the harder they fall.

I suppose it would have been a pretty boring and predictable formula had the plot been something like Souma challenging almost each and every one of the Elite Ten as he slowly climbs up the ladder and defeats the boss in the top seat. I think that would have made the entire series worse. This format might have worked in the early days of anime (like 20 years ago) but now it won’t. So the ‘twist’ of the plot comes in the shape of a new director for Totsuki. He sure does changed a whole lot of things around that serves as a wakeup call or more accurately a death knell for many of those who have gotten quite used to Totsuki’s traditions. I am sure many of us would love to hate this guy because of his dictatorship ways. After all, how else could you cheer on the hero (that’s you, Souma) and support him to defeat the big bad boss if that final antagonist is not as worthy? And so that is where Azami comes in. He is a demon as seen in the ending credits animation. That bad, huh?

Therefore with the latest revelations and developments especially Azami’s ties with Jouichirou, this whole Totsuki and possibly the culinary world thingy might get even more interesting as well as messy. Then maybe it would be Jouichirou’s turn to finally step back into the spotlight since he is mostly making his appearances in flashbacks. It seems there is more than meets the eye to one of the greatest chefs of his generation. Think about it. He graduated from Totsuki but didn’t really left his mark in the culinary world that tells he is an alumni of Totsuki. Like as though he doesn’t want to be associated with it. For many years, he has been laying low with his own mini diner until he decides to close it down and make Souma enrol in Totsuki. The one who will save the culinary world from certain doom? Maybe he disagreed or witnessed something horrifying. Like how meat ingredients are made from human beings! Oops. Wrong show. But the possibility is there for shock factor. I mean, are things all looking that good as they seem on the surface as well as what goes on beneath? There are things we do not know about Totsuki and an institution this big and influential may have dark secrets they want to hide from everyone forever.

While Azami’s plans might seem good on paper, but that is just about it and there are so many flaws that one may object but unfortunately our voices will not be heard because of his narrow minded thinking. First of all, he thinks that everyone should eat the same great food. Hence the same great cooking. That one and only way. Nothing else. He failed to realize that the rest of us ‘low lives’ are not so fortunate as him or his elites, getting to have this gourmet skill or whatever you may call. Sure, many of us would love to taste and eat good food for the rest of our lives but in reality, we are all just earning enough to eat. Barely. Yup, the same ol’ food for me again. And tomorrow. So unless he revolutionizes the prices by making them affordable, I think I will die of starvation first. Or even kill just to eat. Is this the chaos he wants to descend on Japan and the world?! That will be like he gets to control who gets to eat. Besides, if he is so cocksure that only one strict method is the right way, might as well discard all the various food types and cultures in the world and everyone’s meal would be all packed into one little pill. Yeah, that will be the ultimate. Also, the common people’s taste buds aren’t so sensitive so many broad spectrums. If it’s good, it’s good. Otherwise it is not. Simple. No need to rate out of 1000 and go into technical details on every fibre of the food. We common folks don’t give a sh*t. It all goes into our stomach and we’re satisfied. Period.

Call me a sadist but one of my biggest ‘joy’ for this season is seeing Erina being reduced to a weakling and scaredy-cat in the presence of her father. For the past 2 seasons we have known how obnoxious she is and especially towards Souma. Of course we learn about her past and circumstances but that doesn’t make it forgivable that snobbish b*tch she was before. So watching her in this frail state is like her getting her just desserts for being a dick towards everyone else. Maybe with this humility, it ought to open her eyes. I won’t say I didn’t feel pity for her seeing her in this state for the longest time, I do feel a bit bad for her but overall, I still enjoy seeing Erina stop being a b*tch for once. Of course, my wildest fantasy was to see Erina being further reduced to a damsel in distress situation that she would cry and finally run into Souma’s arms for help! Please Souma, I beg of you. Please help me. I don’t know what to do anymore. Boo hoo (insert more dramatic crying here)! And then like the true prince charming he would defeat his enemies and sweep her off her feet! And their culinary romance can begin! Kyaa~!!! So cringey. Should be Souma x Megumi but I really want to see that alternate fantasy too! Yeah, I also got my wish to see that face when she realizes Souma is the son of Jouichirou. It is priceless. The guy whom she adored long ago has a son whom she despises. Karma coming full circle. Now she’ll be forced to apologize and be nice to him. If she ever gets on her high horse and begin sounding b*tchy, just show a picture of her dad and she’ll shiver right away. That’ll do the trick. Sorry, still in my dream land…

Tsukasa feels like one of the oddest characters ever. I mean, Totsuki hosts a hell lot of weird characters but none as weird as him. Because he is so panicky and a worrywart in almost everything but the irony is that his cooking is so flawless and seamless like as though there was nothing to worry about to begin with. Like as though he has a split personality when it comes to cooking because he is just so cool whenever in that state. Yeah, his anxiety is somewhat a running joke for the series. Rindou I feel although has this very carefree and playful demeanour, it is as though underneath all that she has an ulterior motive. I mean, she does have the eyes of a snake, doesn’t she? Or maybe it could be she is just that and wants something more interesting to spice up her boring life.

Every other character are just hanging in there. What do you expect when you have only a dozen episodes and so many other characters that have been introduced since? So we don’t get to see Mito fawning too much over Souma and while Takumi still has his gay challenge waiting for Souma, it isn’t as annoying as he doesn’t pop up as often. Isami is still fat, though. They trolled us with Megumi becoming Souma’s assistant for the Moon Festival because we thought there would be some romantic sparks lighting although there were none. Not even a hint. Then there is Hisako who has become more receptive of Souma and Alice is not as bad as you think she is although she is still reckless. Ryo is still aggressive and full of angst as long as he wears his bandana while Mimasaka is still copying everything. And to show the Polar Storm members aren’t being useless, hence that eviction episode that ended in their victory.

At least this season we had a couple of Shokugeki and they aren’t a let-down either. They still maintain all that exaggerative goodness that will only make amateurs of this series want to take a chomp out of their screen. Me too but this time round, I had more resistance. More control over my appetite and not fall for those exaggerated naked reactions (those are still hilarious yet nonsensical). Seeing Souma and his side giving those high and mighty arrogant guys their humble pie never feels old. The food still looks as good but if only they could be real in real life. Sure, they will. If you cough up enough cash. Even if I don’t understand all the technical details what they’re saying in preparing the food, I am sure my average common sense will still tell me they are all great food. You people don’t have to cook such a great dish that will blow my (naked) mind away. Something that fills my stomach and give the thumbs up. Simple.

At this point I am starting to believe that rank and reputation too have a very stark influence on one’s confidence if the dish one makes would be successful. Of course it is for drama effect but for example when Souma went up against Tsukasa, the girls were very worried with the fact that Souma had a higher chance of losing because well, he is up against the number one. Of course it is to show that the seat is well respected and if anybody doesn’t feel fear, awe or inspiration being challenged or just being with this dude, it takes away the meaning to have such ranks and organizations. So don’t let the people with higher rank and better public reputation fool you. They odds might be stacked against you at first but remember, that doesn’t guarantee that you will lose. Just a higher percentage of losing, that’s all. At this point everyone should know and believe in Souma. Sure, he wins some, he loses some. His forever underdog tag might be the culprit why his pals are so worried when he challenges higher ranking people. But as the protagonist, he’ll win. Right? Just remember to let your dish taste the last.

Another rock outfit greets the opening theme for this season, Braver by ZAQ. Initially I felt such hard rock pieces aren’t suitable for this food themed series but seeing the direction of where things are heading, maybe it is a little okay after all. Nano Ripe reprises her role for the ending theme, Kyokyo Jitsujitsu. Is it because of the cool crazy guitar riffs and bass lines that distracted me from her ‘terrible’ voice? Okay, she doesn’t sound that bad after hearing her so many times but this song isn’t actually all that bad. Maybe it is all the delicious looking dishes in the ending credits animation all so nicely placed out that makes it even more appetizing.

Overall, the third season did do some justice and recover the series’ name. Not sure if it was a good thing to split the season into 2 cours instead of a continuous one. It’s like having your appetizer and main course first and then come back tomorrow for the dessert. Because maybe the restaurant ran out of whipped cream and needed to go to the store to get some but they’re all close. And we’re okay with that because we know they’ll deliver. Yeah. That kind of feeling. So while the story is getting pretty generic about an unconventional talented kid challenging the conventional and bringing his form of revolution to everything, it is the way they present it that doesn’t make it tiring. After 3 seasons and having being presented with the same awesome foods but in various forms, I guess it is true that variety is indeed the spice of life. All that talking is making me hungry for the next season already.

Shokugeki No Souma S2 OVA

November 24, 2017

After the very lukewarm season 2 and my very disappointment with how a great season can become so boring with that Stagiaire internship thingy, I didn’t think they would come up with another season a year later. But before all that and to hype things up as well as wash away all that disappointment, I guess that is why we have Shokugeki No Souma S2 OVA. This is supposed to be the bridge that connects the second and third season. Don’t expect much but it is still an important piece if you are looking forward to watch the next season. I know I am now.

OVA 1
Hotspring episode! Sort of. Taking place after the Stagiaire, Megumi invites the whole gang to a hotspring inn. We start off with some ping pong match first. Lots of bounciness between Mito and Ryouko’s match and it isn’t the ping pong balls, get what I mean? Megumi and Isshiki have a very serious and passionate battle so much so she is wearing proper attire to play it and this feels more like a sports shonen show than a cooking genre. As the guys soak in the hotspring, Takumi realizes Souma isn’t around. He heard he went to challenge Hayama and Ryo. Unsettled, he starts running about to find him but ultimately gets lost. Now, the challenge Souma is having is a fishing battle. They are to see who can fish out the master of the river. When caught, the trio have to work together to reel it out because it is really giving them a real fight. Meanwhile by sheer bad luck and coincidence, the chefs are all injured and due to a mis-scheduling, important guests are to arrive soon. This is an excuse for our lesser known characters to fill in and show what they’ve got. Little do they know, that VIP is Erina, Alice and Hisako. Erina’s God’s tongue tastes the amateurs’ dishes but also gives them their due praises since it was carefully prepared and lots of effort were put into it. Megumi and co hear the praises from the innkeeper and they are ecstatic because it’s like they passed, right? Later Megumi soaks alone and discovers Erina nearby and realizes she is the VIP. I guess the victory now means a lot, eh? Souma and co return all messed up. Looks like they’ve lost the catch and the river’s master dragged them down the stream and waterfall. Expensive lesson to be learnt. Meanwhile Takumi is still lost… Luckily he manages to find his way back and this time Souma is there. So now he b*tches about the proper order to call for a cooking battle. WTF.

OVA 2
No rest for Souma. Because back at the dorm, he receives tons of challenge letters. We see him continuously winning streaks in Shokugeki matches. There is even one where he took on 2 opponents at the same time and bests them. Heh. All of them must be weaklings. A strange lady, tastes his food before leaving. From the looks of it, want to bet she is from the Elite Ten? Later Isshiki calls Souma and Megumi because there is going to be a Maple Meet soon and this is where the juniors get to meet their seniors. However it is special for the Autumn Elections finalists as they get to meet the Elite Ten face to face. That grin on Souma’s face… He is already thinking of doing Shokugeki with them! So we see the gang taking their seats and as expected, they don’t get along with each other. Rivalry is already so intense. Oddly, despite Erina is part of the Elite Ten, she is joining their side as she considers herself a junior and thus it is proper to get to know her seniors. The Elite Ten show their faces. Another bunch of weirdoes. Some of them don’t get along either. Like Terunori Kuga, Nene Kinokuni, Eizan and Isshiki. You think the Autumn Elections finalists are bad, just take a look at them. Oh, that strange lady is Rindou Kobayashi and is ranked second. When Eishi Tsukasa who is currently the 1st seat of the Elite Ten calls out to Souma, Takumi and Mimasaka, you’d think it would be something very important. Unfortunately he goes into depression that because they called a Shokugeki during the Autumn Elections that he wanted to end early, it cut out a lot of work for him!

Souma then gets straight to the point and shocks everyone that he wants to join the Elite Ten and is willing to do Shokugeki with any of them. Of course nobody is going to do it. Kuga mocks his simple mindedness since in this case he wants to challenge just for the sake of fighting stronger opponents. He tries to drill it into his head the Elite Ten is a completely different world but Souma is just more impressed how cool it is. Basically, the higher your seat, the more privileges you have and hence the more resources to broaden yourself. Momo Akanegakubo has made sweets for all of them. This maple-apple-caramel-cheese dessert thingy looks like an item you can get off from an RPG quest… Seriously… This is cue for the best confectioner in Totsuki to let them taste it and have our dose of exaggerated reactions. I know. It’s that good, right? Kuga then carelessly throws down a challenge to Souma that if he finds that there is one thing he can beat him at, feel free to challenge him. You better hold on to you words. The Elite Ten take their leave and this fires up our young ones. Those deadly auras of challenge… I wonder if meek Megumi will be okay. Don’t worry, later she gets assurance from Souma that despite how different level they are and they may not be able to match it, they should take their time and move slowly towards the Elite Ten. No rush, right? Yeah well, I don’t think they’re even halfway there.

Okawari? Why, We Haven’t Even Got To The Main Dish Yet!
Certainly the couple of OVAs aren’t that bad. The first one is quite light-hearted while the second steps things up a little as we get to see all the faces of the current Elite Ten. So the OVAs did make my day and my hopes for the next season is renewed. There are a lot of things I would love to see in the third season but I’ll try not to get ahead too far of myself. As far as these second season OVAs are concerned, they are satisfying in their own right and it whets the appetite for fans and viewers alike for the next season. It is a step in the right direction and suddenly the disappointment of the second season has all been forgotten. Yeah, must be that dessert thingy they presented. Looks so good to eat…

The surprising thing that I noticed is that some of the Elite Ten making their debut here, all of them are voiced by popular and well-known seiyuus. I instantly recognized them the moment they speak. They are Akira Ishida as Tsukasa, Yuuki Kaji as Kuga, Shizuka Itou as Rindou and Kana Hanazawa as Nene. I thought Momo was the combo breaker as I didn’t recognize her voice but upon discovery she is voiced by Rie Kugimiya! Holy sh*t! Is that really her?! Too soft spoken that I couldn’t recognize. Well, I thought she sounded so different in the recent Konbini Kareshi but at least there were some parts of her voice that was recognizable but this one, not so. Maybe not enough lines. Hearing them again, yup, that’s her alright.

Like I have already said, these OVAs are a nice bridge to connect the second and third season and to whet the appetite for the next season. There will be more interesting Shokugeki (because calling it food fight makes it sound so childish and unglamorous) with a lot of parties trying to vie for the top sea. Even within the Elite Ten, there are still battles among each other to get to higher rankings. Because food is everything, right? It has gotten to a stage where it is no longer as simple as a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Only at Totsuki where food has become majestic works of art and an aphrodisiac drug. Who’d knew that popping something into your mouth can be this convoluted and annoyingly delicious at the same time.

Shokugeki No Souma S2

March 24, 2017

Thanks to the mouth-watering first season, it was only right to satiate the quench and hunger of fans and viewers who want more of Shokugeki No Souma. Hence, your wishes are heard and the second season is served to feed our need once more. We can’t wait to see what our main protagonists cook up delicious and godly dishes that we pitiful commoners can only salivate and imagine we’re those lucky people tasting them. So if you love food but have to go on a strict diet, at least the doctor didn’t prescribe that you stay away and shouldn’t watch any food themed series. Have you heard of anybody getting fat visually? Oh wait… Being a couch potato and not exercising contributes to obesity… Damn it… Too late, I’ve already started…

Episode 1
We jump right into the quarter-finals for the Autumn Elections. Because Souma is our main character, he goes up first in the first match. His opponent? Alice. The theme will be bento. Alice finishes first and presents to the judges her high quality seafood temari bento. You can tell how good it is when Senzaemon goes topless! Apparently Alice doesn’t know about the unwritten rules about why she will lose. One, because those who goes second will always win and two, Souma is main character so he must win. So Souma’s fish theme bento by taking advantage of the bento box to turn it into soup as well as salmon roe that literally explodes into your mouth (inspiration based on some snack of a similar nature) sealed the win for him. In short, Souma used the bento’s shape to fill it with entertainment and enhanced its flavour with warmth compared to Alice’s cold chilling flavour to just fill the box that made Souma the winner. Alice tries out his dish and gets a flashback of her cold past and being filled up by the warmth of this bento. Cue for naked delusion reaction please…

Episode 2
The second round pits Megumi against Ryo and the theme is ramen. To fill in the time for this episode, we get to see Ryo being an excellent and serious chef since young. This little kid is the one who took charge of the kitchen and putting the adults to shame. Ryo doesn’t think Megumi is serious in her cooking because of her sheltered life. Chefs are all about winning or being beaten. Cooking is about bringing your opponents down to your knees. Wow. I never knew cooking was hardcore battlefield. Ryo finishes first and lets the judges taste his rich shrimp seafood ramen. I’m not sure if Ryo has a good naming sense because he calls this dish, Soupe de Poisson. Sorry, my French not so good. But don’t look down on Megumi. She is equally serious and has put in the effort too. In short, she improvises the ingredients she has to create another rich seafood ramen but her main ingredient is scallops. Shrimps versus scallops. Who will win?

Episode 3
If you follow the unwritten rules, Megumi should win, right? Well, sometimes you have to break that rule. Because Ryo wins. Even if Senzaemon didn’t go topless for Megumi’s dish unlike Ryo’s, he realized later that his underwear had gone missing! Hidden gem? The third match resumes the next day and has Hisako against Hayama to make hamburger. Meanwhile Souma is running late to the hall when he bumps into a punk dude riding his bike, Subaru Mimasaka. This is the guy that surpassed Ibusaki and Marui in the final moments to make it to the next round. Mimasaka is a bit of a weirdo himself. Not the fact he heavily locks and chains his bike or showing off his great embroidery, but the fact he knows every trivial information his opponents! This guy is a walking database! This guy even knows the average hours they slept in the past month! SCARY! As the match has started, Souma and Megumi have to watch in the waiting room with Mimasaka and Takumi. Hisako shows her savagery as she beheads a live terrapin and drain its blood to make burger meat! To show how scary Mimasaka’s accurate prediction is, he predicts Hayama’s win because his kebab dish made out of lamb and beef has a very strong aroma. Something about using achaar too. There she goes into her naked defeat. There goes Hisako’s dreams in replacing Erina. So sad. As Takumi and Mimasaka are preparing for their match, Takumi catches him red handed in touching his tools. He also knows he has been spying on him on the last few days. Mimasaka badmouths the bad tools he is using. Worse, he talks trash about Isami who will always be a second rate chef. Before the match begins, an emergency announcement is broadcasted. It seems Takumi and Mimasaka’s match will be also a Shokugeki.

Episode 4
Apparently veterans won’t be surprised of this Shokugeki because Mimasaka has won 99 of them! He will take Takumi’s knife if he wins otherwise Mimasaka will apologize to his brother right in front of everyone. Records show Mimasaka makes the same dish as his opponents but improvises them to stay tops. Thus he makes the same semifreddo. Not only he stalks his opponents to know and trace their thoughts of what they’ll make, he even exposes and badmouths them. Yeah, like reading out a book of your life’s story, eh? So if Takumi is starting to panic, how can his ‘supporters’ not stay calm? Of course, always go back to your family roots… Mimasaka serves first and let’s say his semifreddo makes one of the judges feel like a young girl. Takumi bounces back with his improvisation using some English rooted lemon with Italian touch and adding his secret family made olive oil. However Mimasaka starts laughing. All going according to his plan. He was counting on him using his secret technique (that’s why he already warned he knows everything about him) and used preserved lemons as his secret ingredient. In the end, all the judges unanimously vote for Mimasaka. So you think his ‘supporters’ might feel the need to speak to him or cheer him up so why are they b*tching about Souma not giving a f*cks? Then back at the dorm, isn’t it no surprise that Mimasaka is waiting in Souma’s room? As you might have guessed, the next round pits them together. He is here to wager another Shokugeki for his knives. He knows Souma will stand up for the humiliated and tries to get him mad to accept it. But Souma is cool. He isn’t rattled and is confident Takumi isn’t depressed after this. Instead he feels pity for Mimasaka. He respects him for recreating Takumi’s dish. But that’s just about it. He took advantage of Takumi’s trial and error effort and as a chef he can’t respect him. He doesn’t know the true joy of cooking. Souma accepts his Shokugeki. But he doesn’t want Takumi’s knife back but all the other 99 tools he took. So what will Souma wager for that equivalent value? He will quit being a chef! Gasp!

Episode 5
Souma further tells him the beef stew that he will make in the match. That’s when his pals rush him to stop giving out more information. Mito is most upset about all this. Souma explains he wants to return all the tools Mimasaka robbed. He will stake his pride as his chef to defeat him. Next morning, Mitsuru Sotsuda is at his doorstep. He is from the journalism club and has covered about his upcoming Shokugeki with Mimasaka which has set the entire school abuzz. This guy wants to be the best journalist so what the heck is he doing in Totsuki for? He bugs Souma for an exclusive interview but he ignores him. He remains persistent till people have the wrong idea about their gay relationship and so he relents. Souma lets him try out the beef stew he is going to make. Of course to a normal guy like him it tastes great but it isn’t enough. Souma reveals he told Mimasaka what he will be doing as this is his best dish before coming to Totsuki. Now that they are at the same starting line, will he evolve this dish or Mimasaka’s profiling will surpass him. As Mitsuru is full (it is blasphemy to not finish Souma’s cooking!), Souma needs someone who can test taste. Meanwhile Erina is happily reading her love manga. She realizes she ran out of volumes and Hisako isn’t around to provide her. She has left for a journey after realizing she is too embarrassed to face her after her loss. Erina thinks she is back but it’s just Souma and Mitsuru. Disappointed? B*tch mode on. She rejects them to test taste but after Souma says one of his dorm mates has the full manga volume, she agrees. The verdict? It’s trash. She didn’t even hint what is wrong. Well, you can’t argue with her God tongue, right? After a while, Souma hits inspiration and kicks Mitsuru out of his kitchen. Exclusivity over. The first semi-final math is here and the judges are all graduates of Totsuki like Dojima, Inui, Fuyumi Mizuhara, Taki Tsunozaki and Sonoka Kikuchi. Everyone is surprised when they see Souma using oxtail as his base. They think he has overcome his problem. Till they see Mimasaka is also using oxtail and the same spices! He knows everything! But now this is where Mimasaka surpasses Souma as he proclaims.

Episode 6
In addition to oxtails, Mimasaka has got brown sugar and a whole lot of other secret ingredients for his beef stew. Enhancing his perfect profiling is his revelation of Mitsuru’s weak birthday password that allowed him to peek at his interview findings. This guy is really a stalker! Souma is not fazed and starts cooking. I mean, he starts his cooking only right now. Mimasaka knows this is one way to defeat his perfect profiling by not planning and improvising on the dot. However most will panic and end up blank. He has high hopes for Souma and knows he won’t panic but will still fall short. Mimasaka goes first and needless to say the judges are awed. Souma goes next and although the first bite doesn’t bring any excitement, suddenly they are falling like riding a roller coaster! Souma reveals he was also thinking about Mimasaka. He also predicted what he would make but that wouldn’t be his own cooking. So his improvised cooking wasn’t just on the fly but he has drawn from all his experience throughout his life in making this beef stew which is unlike the profiling that has only 1 necessary step taken. The judges are in fantasy land. Nothing wrong about it except Dojima is dressing and acting like a girl! Hideous! In short, Souma unanimously wins the Shokugeki. As expected.

Mimasaka can’t accept this loss so Souma lets him try his dish. So good that it brings back memories of his childhood when he first started cooking. He had talent but his father who is a top chef didn’t like him copying his dishes. One day his restaurant was showcasing new dishes and hosting VIPs, Mimasaka added a simple twist so he could earn dad’s respect. Although he ended up winning, it made dad madder. He was then exiled to Totsuki and that was where he began using his profiling ability and concocting his twisted personality. All the tools are returned to their respective owners and everyone is ever grateful to Souma. Mimasaka will stop being a chef forever but Souma stops him. Souma calls Takumi to get his knife. Takumi admits his loss to Mimasaka but will beat him the next time. A new person to be gay with? But Takumi gives his knife to Souma. It is his now. At least his safekeeping. He will get it back once he beats him in their next Shokugeki. Souma tells Mimasaka to take his opponent’s entire pride in a single match again. Even if he is heavily defeated and crushed, you still need to open shop tomorrow. That is what being a chef is all about. In short, continue cooking. And this is what Souma meant about quitting cooking. It is just to start all over again. So he wasn’t really going to stop, huh? Mimasaka tastes Souma’s dish again and this time feels like a little girl. More hideous than Dojima… Souma’s win must now be a thorn in Erina’s side now. Can’t wait to win this and face her.

Episode 7
Now for Hayama and Ryo to face off. Souma irks Erina as he sits with her together in her special VIP room to watch. As Hayama is the favourite to win, I suppose that is why we have Alice to tell us about his past hell training, blah, blah, blah. I wonder how this will sit with Mito when she sees Souma being flanked by 2 hot babes. Anyway with the western style dish as theme, Hayama uses duck while Ryo goes for eel. It gets odder when the visual metaphor becomes a card game with monsters. Yugioh x Pokemon?! So we’ve got Hayama’s fragrant dish grasping the judges with its ‘eagle claws’ and Ryo giving them electric shock and explosion! So who will win? For the first time, the judges are having a tough time to decide. When the score is at 2-2, it all boils down to Kikuchi. She cannot choose. Of course we can’t have that so Dojima proposes. Normally a draw would mean rescheduling and fight another date but with everyone’s tight schedule this isn’t possible. So how? Let them both advance to the finals! This never happened before. Oh, when Senzaemon gives his approval means it will happen. Yeah, I thought it would be time for Souma to seek revenge on both together. While Hayama gracefully accepts this fate, Ryo is bursting with anger and rage. Our 3 finalists lay down their challenge to each other. The theme will be saury fish and the finals will be in 10 days. 10 days?! OMG. Filler time?!

Episode 8
Souma and Megumi head to the fish market. They see Ryo and Alice. Ryo has this knack to choose the freshest saury as well as its taste at its peak. They both make sashimi and let Megumi judge. Ryo’s sashimi is better. Some explanation about Ryo’s ability to determine everything that he touches. Even from how the fish lives to how it is transported?! WTF?! In that case this guy makes a good crime solver. They also hear Hayama was earlier here and the sellers were talking how great he is choosing the best ingredients with his nose. Yeah, I guess Souma is at a disadvantage if he can’t choose the best ingredients. He is turned into an underdog or no hoper since the media interviewing his rivals are shown their great demonstration but Souma has nothing to show for. Souma realizes aging may be an important factor so he ropes in Ryouko, Ibusaki and Mito to help since they are experts in aging techniques. Even with all the testing and the best saury they can come up with, Megumi still believes it doesn’t taste near as Ryo’s. This has Souma cracking his head. He can’t give up on aging now. When he decides to go buy more saury, he sees Fumio in her usual drinking. He sees the simple snack that goes with her drinking and hits eureka. He must have really hit an idea because he hugs her. Hayama and Ryo notice Souma has not come to the fish market ever since but they know he has a plan as he is not the kind to give up. On the final match day, the judges will be Senzaemon, Dojima and Leonora Nakiri (Alice’s mom). She might look beautiful but her Japanese accent is horrible! Hayama and Ryo take out their firm and exquisite saury. Souma? What the f*ck is that brown sh*t?! Not kidding. Literally, it looks like one long hard constipated sh*t!!!!!!!

Episode 9
Underneath the moonlight night, our finalists begin their cooking. Because Ryo finishes first and serves, we have a little flashback of him and Alice’s battling it out. Alice always won and it took him 2 years to finally beat her. That is of course after he learnt her cooking style and knowledge. Ryo serves his saury in a pouch. You can tell how awesome it is when Senzaemon bares his chest and even grins. Leonora on the other hand turns into Buddha explaining word for word all the amazingness in fast forward fashion. Oh, she speaks fluent Japanese now! Sorry guys, she’s not going to bare her chest like you thought. When it is Hayama’s turn, Ryo thought he was joking because his dish seems lighter. But he hasn’t put the finishing touches. Once he sears his saury, an amazing aroma fills the hall. You can even tell how tasty it is by smelling without tasting. Of course when you taste, the better. The usual bare chest Senzaemon and Buddha Leonora. Of course don’t look down on Souma. His piece of sh*t is actually saury covered in salted rice bran. As usual, great reviews and all, blah, blah, blah. But then everybody notices something. Senzaemon didn’t strip his top. Leonora didn’t go into Buddha mode. Does this mean it Souma has lost? Why the f*cks everybody is so negative when it comes to the candidate they are supporting? Don’t jump your guns yet because the dish isn’t finished. You need to have seconds. So don’t say you’re full now.

Episode 10
Isshiki talks to Eizan and he knew it was all his plan to have Mimasaka target Souma for ultimate humiliation but his plan backfired. Souma presents his white soup which is soy milk to turn his saury dish into porridge. We’ve got Senzaemon clothes explode apart! So amidst their praise, Isshiki continues telling Eizan about the magazine focusing more on Hayama and putting down Souma (just like America’s 2016 elections?). Even when Souma defeated Alice and Mimasaka, the crowd doesn’t seem to acknowledge him. Isshiki once talked to Jouichirou about Souma. He views his son has no special cooking skill but lacks what a normal person would have which is the belief of losing to someone more talented. This is obvious when Souma never gave up after losing all the time to him. All Souma did was keep testing and retesting his recipes. Thus the reason why everyone is afraid to acknowledge him is because if they do so they are acknowledging their own lack of effort. So before the judges announce the winner, they give their evaluation on their dishes. Blah, blah, blah. But the one dish that sets the winner apart is the reflection of the chef as an individual. An own specialty dish. And the winner is… Flashback to Hayama’s past 8 years ago! F*CK!!!!! Do we need more tension???!!! Yeah, yeah. So we learn he was abandoned in the slums till Shiomi picked him up and taught him things. This gives Hayama a purpose in life and thus he is always grateful to her, the reason he must win this tournament. And if that story feels like a flag or something, it is because the winner is Hayama!!!!!!!!!! Shiomi is so happy rushing down to his side that he hugs her in front of everyone. I suppose Souma is in a dilemma now because dad told him not to lose to anyone before losing to him next time. So Souma and Ryo has Hayama make his saury dish for them to taste again. Part of their improvement plan, I guess. Later Souma gets a call from Jouichirou. He laughs at his son’s defeat. Souma is motivated to explore the kind of cooking he can only do to carry on his family’s business name. Isn’t that what he has been doing all the time? Souma and Ryo spend the rest of their time at Hayama’s place test tasting each other’s several dishes in a bid to improve. Even the Polar Star residents get the same idea. Shiomi warns them that they only have a short respite. After this they will be tossed out of the academy for a practical training programme called Stagiaire.

Episode 11
The first stage of Stagiaire will have students work at pairs. Guess who Souma gets paired with? Hisako. Not thrilled to see him, huh? They will be helping out Mamoru Mitamura’s western restaurant for a week. They notice customers leaving in a rush. Despite Hisako claiming she can cook and cut fast, but can she handle it when the stream is endless? When customers come in at one go, the staffs become chaotic trying to fulfil the orders. Because they cannot get it done in time, all the customers leave at the same time! But with Souma taking charge, things get a bit better. As much as Hisako hate taking orders from him, for the sake of this restaurant she has to swallow her pride and drop that b*tch attitude. It is learnt that the customers are rushing for the Bullet Train and that is why they are rushing for time. Meanwhile Erina is also having her Stagiaire. She is in confrontation with the restaurant owner who is trying to relegate her to washing dishes. Megumi better stay out of this… Eventually she takes over command of the place and customer satisfaction drastically increases. Yeah, it’s like she owns the place now. When Souma points out if Hisako is going to continue working in this restaurant, she realizes what he is implying and calls for an emergency meeting with the staffs. Although things are going smooth for now, once the Totsuki duo leave, things will go back to normal. Chaotic. The staffs feel changing too much would be meaningless so Souma has Mitamura think what kind of restaurant he wants it to be and based on the circumstances they are in, offers a solution. Nobody think that turning this restaurant into reservations only instead of walk-in would be successful. However in its own way it does because old customers who were too busy to come here can now make reservations to come enjoy their food. Things are less hectic this way too. Erina gives Megumi a ride home. She asks more about Megumi and of course she can’t thank her success without mentioning Souma. That name just infuriates her. But the mention of Hisako’s name has her suddenly become depressed. Speaking of her, Hisako is still reeling she doesn’t deserve to be with Erina, blah, blah, blah. Souma tells her she should walk by her side and not behind her and gives her the manga Erina wants as reason for her to see her again. After all, they both lost to Hayama and should find a way to beat him someday. For once Hisako returns a nice grateful smile.

Episode 12
Where does Souma get sent for the next Stagiaire? Oh. It’s a soon to be newly opened Tokyo flagship store of Shinomiya. Due to budget constraints, I guess Souma has to start helping out finishing the construction and fitting with Shinomiya himself and the minimal staffs that include Abel Blondin the head chef, Gao Wei and Lucie Hugo. After they’re done, Shinomiya cooks for them quiche. Despite tasting absolutely delicious, by Shinomiya’s standards it is not good. Shinomiya’s restaurant will have a few days of pre-open. This is like a test run where he invites customers he knows to taste the food and such. Of course Souma as his first time experiencing this falls behind and almost threatens to disrupt the work flow of everybody. He barely makes it by the end of the day. And you might have guessed, despite all the criticisms and scolding, he won’t get dejected so instead he learns to improve himself at night and more importantly ask questions. Thus you can see him improve day by day that he becomes faster than the rest on the last pre-open day. Since Shinomiya is holding a new menu competition among the staffs, Souma wants to join. Looks like he has found his specialty.

Episode 13
After the last pre-open day, the restaurant is closed for a private event that Shinomiya has invited certain people over. They are some of Totsuki’s alumni and Chapelle. Not forgetting Shinomiya’s mother. After the restaurant closes, they want to stay behind to watch the staffs in the new menu competition. We can tell this episode is all fully dedicated to Souma because we don’t even see what the other staffs cook. We see Souma drawing out his past experience to make his new menu. It must be awesome because he becomes Super Saiyan???!!! Even more so, we don’t see those ‘judge’s tasting the other staffs’ menu. It all boils down to Souma. He serves his best French dish, a whole quail which might look like a French version of substituted version of Japan’s oyakodon. Of course it tastes good as Souma explains all about it. Blah, blah, blah. But what is Shinomiya’s verdict? It is still low quality! It is good to be served at a small time restaurant but a flagship restaurant like his is a no. In fact, Shinomiya offers to teach how he could make the dish better. Souma couldn’t be happier. Better prepare yourself because it takes all night! Shinomiya’s final encouragement is for Souma to take the top seat of the Elite Ten. Montage shows other Totsuki students toughing it out in their own Stagiaire. Souma returns back his dorm only to find a box of Shokugeki challenge letters. In fact, one of them challenges him right now! Bring it on. There are more montages of the rest but the noteworthy ones are Isami back to his fatty form again and Hisako back by Erina’s side. Souma wins his Shokugeki and then throws down his challenge to everyone he can take on anyone anytime. Even right now.

Bomb Appetite!
OMG???!!! What happened???!!! Let me explain to you with this scenario. You once tried out a newly opened restaurant in your area. Everything was new, everything was fresh, everything was good. Absolutely the best. You know this is going to be your favourite place to eat for a long time to come. You recommend to your friends and family about this place. You decide to come and eat again but wait. It feels a little different. At first it wasn’t quite as good as the original but it was still bearable. But as you proceed with your meal, you find that it has lost the quality you thought it once had. It turned out totally different than the first experience. Very different. It’s like they changed the recipe or the chefs who did it. You decide that this place has become awful and just like how it betrayed your trust, you decide never to come back here ever again. Ever.

Sadly, this is my feelings for this season and I believe the same can be said for many of us who watched this (yeah, read those dreaded internet comments). Thanks to the first season, it has built a good base that makes us wanting more. Of course we were hyped and excited when we heard there was going to be a second season. And then it came. And went away quietly. Leaving us to question where it went wrong along the way. Although a direct continuation from the first season, the first half of the season was still enjoyable, it wasn’t as exciting that I had experienced in the first time. I shouldn’t be calling this ‘fatigue’ because this is only the second time. So for the magic to wear out this fast? Something must have gone wrong. By the time it reached halfway, the magic was close to zero. Almost completely gone. Instead of anticipating with glee for each episode, there was this dreaded feeling that I have to go through the same crap again. There was no more excitement. The excitement pretty much felt dead. And because this season had a few more episodes to spare after the Autumn Elections ended, the Stagiaire felt like filler episodes to close the season. Too late. Damage done. But if there is anything good about this final mini arc, at least it gives students a peak of what a real hell’s kitchen works in real life. Yes, real work life experience.

Perhaps it was the case of following the formula of if it is not broken, don’t fix it. Because this season offers nothing new and very much follows the pattern of the first season. Students fight it out in cooking battles but instead this season is pretty much concentrated on the Autumn Elections. That’s about it. The dishes they served up look pretty amazing and people like me will get lost in all the judges’ mumbo-jumbo as they try to explain and justify why that dish is so godly. Yeah, maybe that is why it has lost touch with us commoners. There might have been some sort of hidden frustration that we as casual viewers have come to terms that we will never get to taste it and thus no matter how much the wax lyrical about the food, we couldn’t care less anymore because it doesn’t reach us. I mean, why the heck should we get excited if we are not going to taste it anyhow? I mean, we can use our imagination to salivate but that only makes things worse. You know, dreaming of eating the best food but ultimate realizing you can’t afford it so you just keep on dreaming. Yeah. That kind of frustration.

The plot for the Autumn Elections was also very predictable. I actually predicted who was going to fight who and the winner of that match. All came out true except the second semi-final in which I was sure that Hayama would win (although it was a match in which I had the lowest confidence my prediction would be right) and they did the unthinkable of making both pass. Which is like a slap in the face for all of us expecting a winner. And this in which leads to the finals whereby of course made my prediction go off trajectory again because after watching so many series with a main protagonist like Souma (especially when you have your name in the title), I expected Souma to make a comeback and win so he could have his ‘defeat’ in the qualifying round avenged. And what do you know? Hayama won. Wow. That was unexpected. But I suppose it is a good thing because it shows Souma isn’t invincible. You win some, you lose some. Also, an excuse for Souma to improve himself because the chances of so after you lose an important fight is higher. Really. So put off that final boss fight with Erina and take a detour levelling up, getting stronger and fighting other sub-bosses along the way first. Guess we’ll have to wait another time.

There was little to no character development at all. Of course there is some development for Souma. He is the main character for God’s sake. But this guy is so good like the many other characters you see in this series, that when he improves, you don’t really see what he improves on. He looks the same awesome guy. Just like how Adobe Acrobat always want to update but you don’t see a freaking difference, right? Yeah… If this is already happening to Souma, what about the other characters? Sure, it is unfair to say that this season had only half the episodes compared to the first season. But the way some are shown makes them redundant. Like those Polar Star students and Mito are just reduced to cheering Souma. They didn’t even do anything significant. They’re forgettable. I could go on ranting about the other characters but that would be me repeating myself because they are more or less like this for this season. Pretty much everybody stays the same. Erina is still a big b*tch who hates Souma (albeit a little lesser but so miniscule that it won’t change anything), Hisako being a b*tch for Erina, Takumi still being gay for Souma and Megumi still that same panicky girl. At least she doesn’t have to rely too much on Souma this time. At least no running jokes like Souma’s bad squid tentacle rape combo for fanservice. Phew, right? But still have plenty of ladies stripping naked in their exaggerated delusion delight when they taste a fantastic dish. Yeah, those delusions and explanations are still the main trademark of the series. Truly, I really need to taste all of them.

Mimasaka if I should say is the only new character for this season and perhaps as the ‘antagonist’ he is pretty much by far the most interesting. He is intimidating and his unusual stalker method really gives me the creeps. He was one badass guy whom you’d want Souma to take down badly. However what makes me unable to like him further than that is the exaggerated effect of his database ability. I know this series has people with outrageous ability like Erina’s divine tongue but having Mimasaka like a walking computer it makes him so unrealistic. It’s like he has got everything covered. Everything. This guy if he didn’t end up being a chef, he could have been the human version of Wikipedia and WikiLeaks. Watch out because there is somebody who can remember your past just by observing every freaking thing you do and then do it better way than yourself. If this is a new way of stealing your identity, it is going to be a scary place to live in.

I have this conspiracy theory of mine. You know how everybody here makes super good food that they even though to ordinary people it will be so heavenly but among themselves are not good enough? Well, I thought that all those crazy reactions you see are the side effect of drugs! Yes people! This academy makes ecstasy drugs in the guise of food! Now, the only way for top people like those judges to get their fix all the time, is to get students to ‘improve’ on the ‘food’ and with the excuse of a tournament, they’ll get to taste and enjoy that ‘food’. I know this sounds like a stretch but let that sink in for a moment. This way, those cheapskate bastards will also get their fix for free because what better way than to get high frequently, right? So the one with the best drugs wins? Holy sh*t!!!!!!!!!!!

Also, if Stagiaire has the Totsuki students being sent to work temporarily at super high quality restaurants around the country, then considering that there are quite a number of first year students, does this mean that there are a hell lot of such super high quality restaurants around? This is not even counting the Totsuki alumni whom all of them have opened their successful restaurant. This means Japan (if not the world) is one big place of high quality gourmet? Where do commoners with no money go to eat then? Oh right. Maybe in this world everybody gets a decent quality meal no matter from what kind of poor background they come. Because such godly food will always save the day. The other thing that keeps bugging me is the number of first year students at Totsuki. My guess there is an extremely large number of them. Because after every major training camp or special event, you would hear the higher ups mention how so many are weeded out. Yet there are so many left (this is assuming from what I hear from the next event). Sure, we are only shown Souma and some of the major characters so we don’t really see all the other students who flop. Safe to say, all those whom we have seen so far and given at least some personality (like those eternal Polar Star bros, Yuki and Ryouko) all have potential to survive to become the next elite chefs.

Having said all that, the rock opening theme somehow doesn’t sit with me, Rough Diamonds by Screen Mode. Maybe the diamond needs more polishing? Then there is Snow Drop by Nano Ripe as the ending theme. No longer sounding bad when I first heard her a long time ago. This rock theme ending feels dramatic because it’s all on Souma. Yeah, it feels like the pressure is on him. A few more notable seiyuus lending their voice to this series this season. Those I recognized are Hiroki Yasumoto as Mimasaka, Sayaka Ohara as Leonora and Satomi Arai as Lucie.

Overall, this season may be disappointing but it still has hope. Note, this doesn’t mean this season is literally bad. I still enjoy this series but it didn’t reach the height of its first season. I know I have said that I may never want to step into a restaurant with such bad food again but in the future if I hear from others how it has returned to its original roots, nostalgia might play a decisive factor for me in giving this series another chance (yeah, read those hopeful internet comments too). A few bad things like the story and characters being underdeveloped and making the season lacklustre doesn’t mean that everything else is bad. That is the thing when you start off something great. The expectations are high and it is a hurdle that one must aim very high to replicate or else you fall hard. Maybe it is a good thing for me to continue eating cheap commoner food. Who knows if I get addicted to such high quality food, I won’t be able to turn back and ‘eat properly’ anymore. I’ll be starving to death because no ordinary food could satiate my palate anymore. Thank goodness for cheap economy mixed rice for being around…

Shokugeki No Souma

May 29, 2016

Are you hungry for more anime? Can’t get enough of anime despite tons of them airing every season? Good animes, mediocre animes, passable animes, sh*t animes. So many types of animes out there and you still can’t get enough? What does it take to satiate that hunger? Hey. I know. How about another food themed anime to satisfy your craving. Yes people. It is time for another cooking anime that revolves around food. I know the last of such food anime was Koufuku Graffiti back in early 2015 but that is without all the brutal competition and was just so mild and passive (despite the food still looking good), it feels like a show for a gentle housewife instead for teens with raging hormones. That is why we have Shokugeki No Souma. A school where the best and upcoming cooks and chefs with superbly promising skill go to hone their skills and blow away all competitions (and your stomach) with their outlandish dishes.

Of course with shows like these, you have to add in the seemingly average dark horse that nobody looks up to, to wow and amaze them, shutting them up with his cooking. I guess things are better when food enters your mouth instead of insults flying out from your mouth. Oh, add a few colourful weirdoes and characters he’ll meet and challenge, they grow together, they become friends, they become rivals, as they make their step closer to become the world’s best chefs and put all those fake master chefs on reality TV to shame. Ah, such a typical shonen anime. Food version. So get ready to feast your eyes on the most awesome dishes that you’ll never ever taste in your life and hope you carry an additional empty stomach because one bite is not enough. I can guarantee you that.

Episode 1
Souma Yukihira is in a cooking battle with his dad, Jouichirou. A female classmate tastes it and declares Jouichirou the winner. Souma’s losing streak continues. So as not to make him feel bad, she also praises his cooking but he makes her taste his new squid dish. That feeling of being tentacle raped by it… Souma hopes of one day taking over his father’s little kitchen so when Yaeko Minegasaki of the urban development for the umpteenth time comes in with her goons to try and convince him to sell his place so they can develop some high luxury condo, he shoots her down. The day he will close down this place is the day they can’t serve their customers what they want. Really? You really mean that? That sneaky look… Next evening when Souma returns from school, he is shocked to find the signboard smeared and all the meat in the kitchen tarnished. Then Minegasaki comes in to order some meat. What’s that? Can’t make any meat? Well, looks like you have to close down this place. But Souma isn’t backing out and takes the challenge. How can he make meat without any decent ingredients? He had some bacon strips he saved for breakfast. He wraps his pork roast in potatoes but Minegasaki clearly tells him she wants meat and not vegetables looking like meat. But can she resist this good smell? Having a bite… OMFG! It’s that orgasmic feeling! Souma then taunts her if she wants more, she’ll have to never come back here again. She succumbs to her temptation as she and her goons experience the ultimate goodness of the juicy meat. So good that they are butt naked in their fantasy! And yet another satisfied customers… Better than sex, eh? As Souma cleans the signboard (he must really love it for putting in this much effort), Jouichirou returns to inform him he is going to close down his shop! Seems he will be leaving overseas to help a friend in favour. But Souma has always wanted this restaurant. Dad wants Souma to move on and has him enrolled in the super elite culinary school, Totsuki Culinary Academy. His thoughts of it aren’t high until he sees students agonizing over the hellish entrance exam. And desperate people trying to pay money to be admitted back in. Oh sh*t! This school is like a mini kingdom of darkness of its own! Oh, did dad mention about the graduation is less than 10%?

Episode 2
Erina Nakiri must be one of those elite goddesses because you can tell how she chastises bad dishes (or those not up to her super high standards) when she can imagine paradise followed by a jukebox falling on her head or suddenly finding a gorilla bathing next to her! Jouichirou is currently calling Souma from New York. He is making such great cuisine that even the frail monk denounces his faith to eat his meat!!!! Souma meets the other students who are enrolling here. Each with some sort of prestige pedigree in the cooking world. But when they find out he is a commoner, they become abusive. When the hopeful learn Erina is their examiner, they start freaking out! When Erina gives them the chance to withdraw, all of them start crying father and mother and run away! Wimps! Only Souma remains. It is a good thing he doesn’t know who this b*tch is, right? Yeah, something about having born with the finest palate to mankind. A divine tongue that makes her some sort of genius taster at a very young age. Oh, did you know she is also the granddaughter of this academy’s director, Senzaemon? Whatever. Too bad Erina’s yuri time with her assistant, Hisako Arato has to be cut short when she realizes there is still a candidate left. She doesn’t have high expectations of this commoner. Souma gets to work in making a dish with eggs as it was the condition of this test. Although it comes out plain and before she could fail him, Souma teases her about its true form. The rice soon starts to change into a juicier form. Sucking in her pride, Erina tastes the dish. It’s that ecstasy feeling coming! Little Souma angels molesting her naked body!!!!!!!!!! Erina true to being a b*tch, cannot accept this despite she finds it delicious. She fails him! B*TCH!!!!! Later she calls her grandpa to inform that nobody passed the exam. Souma sits in dejection and shock, pondering about his dark future. Senzaemon, who has been observing Souma’s cooking, takes a bite himself. Looks like he has a different idea about Souma’s application.

Episode 3
2 years ago when Megumi Tadokoro left her family filled with hope to become the next best chef when she returns, things are looking bleak because she has been scoring streaks of E’s. And now she receives a note that if she gets 1 more E, she will be expelled! Can’t blame her for feeling nervous and pessimistic. Senzaemon addresses the first year high school students and doesn’t hesitate to mention that 99% of them will fail and become sacrifices for the remaining 1% who will hone their best skills (cue to briefly glimpse at the possible 1% of weirdoes). A transfer student is introduced to give his speech. Erina cannot believe it is Souma. To keep his speech short, Souma irks everyone by claiming he will be the top. Erina wonders how he got in when she clearly failed him but it seems Souma has got an acceptance letter subsequently. Megumi continues to tremble about her precarious position and avoid any unwanted attention like being associated with that transfer student. Unfortunately she ends up in the same class as him and is paired as her partner. Doom! Their first class is under this French chef, Roland Chapelle. He never smiles and any dish they make less worthy of an A will automatically be given an E! You scared, Megumi? They have 2 hours to make some braised beef. Megumi is getting paranoid while Souma plays cool. More like he is being a carefree idiot. A team who dislikes Souma sabotages their preparation. There is not enough time left and Megumi is left to rue her cruel end. But Souma isn’t defeated yet. With spare ingredients, he is still going to make the dish. Surprisingly, Souma finishes making it even before those saboteurs. Seems he used honey which quickly breaks down some protein and tenderizes the meat. Time to taste. Because we don’t really want to see naked middle age French guys, the reason why Megumi is also invited to taste. Yeah… Sweet honey melting all over her naked body! Even more shocking, French guy is smiling! Automatically an A but he laments he has no authority to give them a higher grade. Megumi has her hopes up again with Souma as her partner. But then… He wants to celebrate their partnership by making her taste his new honey squid dish! OMG! Tentacle rape scene!!! How about peanut butter squid now? Oh sh*t… When Hisako reports to Erina about Souma receiving the highest rating from Chapelle, she becomes so pissed and incensed and doesn’t want her to ever speak of that name before her again.

Episode 4
Souma makes his way to Polar Star Dorm. If this creepy place with weirdoes don’t creep you out, maybe this old lady caretaker, Fumio Daimido will. As requirement to stay here, he must cook a passable meal for her. Too bad Souma didn’t hear anything about it and risks staying out in the cold. But when he learns there are leftovers in the kitchen, he takes up the challenge. That meat patty he made is from mackerel while the soup base is from squid (see, squids aren’t always that bad). Long story short, Fumio becomes enchanted with the test and even more so he made something out of so little. Because we don’t appreciate naked bodies of old ladies, instead we have Fumio reminiscing the past where she is hot and sexy, making out with her boyfriend!!! What’s so bad about this? Old lady in her fantasy is trying to kiss Souma!!! Megumi thought the dorm is her place of solace. No strict teachers, no Souma. You don’t say… Then Souma accidentally barges into the bathroom where she is taking a bath. Oops. Fumio must have forgotten to tell him about the bath times. It’s ladies’ turn now. Souma is then invited for a welcoming party with the rest of the dorm’s equally weird dwellers. Zenji Marui is pissed because everyone loves to hold parties in his room and interrupt his study time. Aside Megumi, the other dorm students are animal crazy Yuki Yoshino, the level headed Ryouko Sakaki, Shouji Sato and Daigo Aoki who love fighting each other, the quiet Shun Ibusaki and the-guy-who-likes-to-crawl-through-the-roof-to-deliver-messages and wear-naked-apron-to-show-off-his-butt-while-cooking Satoshi Isshiki. Souma asks about Totsuki’s Elite Ten Council whom Erina is part of. They comprise of the best students of their academy. Their decision making is final and their authority is only second to the director. I guess that says a lot about this bunch. What would be a party without the gang trying each other’s food, right? And they risk trying Souma’s honey squid… Deep in the night, Isshiki lets Souma tries his Spanish mackerel dish. He is blown away by the awesomeness. But this is just a warning to him. Because Isshiki is part of the Elite Ten! He is looking forward to taste his dishes.

Episode 5
Souma takes up the challenge to cook the same theme as Isshiki. He cooks enough for the rest too. As expected, a lovely heavenly taste. We get a little explanation about the French poele technique used by Souma from Isshiki. As expected too, our naked ladies fanservice when they taste the dish. Since Souma’s dish is also quite worthy, the match ends with a draw. Souma then asks how to get into the Elite Ten. His reason for wanting to aim for the best is because he is currently in a fight with his dad. He needs to pull off something major if he is to get his respect. He wonders if he challenges and beats Isshiki, will he get his seat in the council. Isshiki didn’t say since the night is getting late. Next day, Souma eagerly waits to challenge Isshiki for his seat. Sorry to rain on your parade. That is not how it works. He explains some of the rules. When one challenges another, they have to wager something of equal value. For Isshiki’s seat, not even Souma’s expulsion would suffice. That is how great the seat on the council is. Isshiki can accept his challenge but since he wouldn’t want him expelled, the showdown will never happen. There are also other conditions. The main ones are having adjudicators to certify a formal challenge, judges for the challenge and agreement of the conditions by the challengers. Once all are met, you can challenge anyone in the academy. This traditional cooking duel of Totsuki is called Shokugeki. Speaking of which, Erina is engaged in one against some sumo guy. Because she wants to tear down his historical club house to make way for another of her personal cooking wing. Eventually sumo guy unanimously lost. Erina can tell all the errors he made in his dish and on the other hand he is just in ecstasy to taste hers. Like the autocratic demon she is, she immediately has her men teardown the clubhouse. No mercy. Souma looks disappointed with those set of Shokugeki rules because he really wanted to challenge Erina. Ibusaki believes Isshiki wasn’t being serious and didn’t go all out with his dish although Isshiki disagrees he gave it his best. Erina is going to move on to her target to rid the academy of unworthy weaklings (I suppose Totsuki must always be perfect) but this American chick, Ikumi Mito wants to do the next honour. Erina agrees but warns about the consequences if she fails.

Episode 6
Yuki shows Souma around the dorm’s farm that they tend to and raise. Isshiki farming only in his fundoshi… Megumi learnt from Souma and incorporates honey into her breakfast which surprisingly tastes very good. So why can’t she imitate this during class? Stage fright. Totsuki has many cooking research societies. They are like what clubs are in high school. Megumi takes Souma to visit some. His first stop is the Don Research Society. But looks like the president, Kanichi Konishi is in doom and gloom. The club has many exquisite don recipes and could have flourished if not of Erina. Yup, it’s that b*tch again. He explains Erina’s workings first by cutting down a club’s budget. Once cornered, the club has no choice but to initiate Shokugeki and this will only have Erina make more demands. This has been her way of getting rid of clubs she doesn’t like. Mito and her contractors come in to survey the place for teardown. Mito mocks Konishi’s lowly dish not worthy of Totsuki and naturally Souma can’t let this slip and wants to fight her in Shokugeki. Souma agrees to leave Totsuki if he loses but if Mito loses, she must join this club. She agrees and sets the Shokugeki theme as meat. It’s going to be tough since Mito is known as the meat master. Now the entire academy is abuzz with this upcoming battle in 3 days. Konishi explains the meat grade that makes it good and tasty and worthy of the don. However Souma won’t use premium beef because like Konishi said, don is about the speed, taste and affordability. Can’t compromise on your principles now, can we? Mito was just making fun of them of using premium meat. Besides, her family is the king of the meat industry. So she has all the money and facilities at her disposal. As Shokugeki requires participants to get their own ingredients, the club has not enough funds. Souma wanted to use his own money but father is a penny pincher in sending him living expenses. I don’t know how but they manage to get the ingredients. Based on the recipes of the club, Souma tries to create the ultimate don for Konishi to test but there is just something missing. Megumi’s dish gives Souma an idea about tenderizing the meat. He creates a Chaliapin meat. So soft and tender that you can break it with your chopsticks. And yes, tastes good too. But is it enough to beat Mito who is guaranteed to use her premium beef.

Episode 7
Cutie Urara Kawashima hosts the Shokugeki. Boys mesmerized and loving her. Girls jealous and brewing hatred. Mito is the crowd’s favourite while everyone is just booing Souma. So typical. Gracing the event is Erina who is here to see Souma’s humiliating defeat. Some cocky words from Mito before they start cooking. While Mito’s beef is superb quality premium, everyone is shocked to see Souma’s meat is from a convenience store’s cheap sale! Dish tasting time. Mito goes first. Good reviews. As expected. Souma’s turn. The judges don’t think highly of it after tasting Mito’s one. As expected. But once they pop it in their mouth, they find it so delicious that they cannot stop eating! OMG! They finish the bowl clean and are asking for seconds! Although his cheap sauce and tweaking of the onion did the trick, but the one that sealed the deal was the pickled plum paste he used in the rice. Mito is worried as she realizes her rice portion is left unfinished. As Souma explains, the don must come as a whole as a package. So when he heard Mito was going to use premium meat, he was worried about what she was going to use for the rice because by beefing up and amplifying the rice with her meat, both will start to compete instead of complementing each other. Still not interested? Why not have a try then. She takes a bite. And then she cannot stop! So good that she remembers her sad past of her strict lady-like upbringing. Yes. The don is making and telling her it is okay to be herself! Clearly the winner is Souma. Shocking upset? To the audience. Hardly to me. Oh dear. Erina is not looking pleased… When Souma would like to taste her dish and mentions she looks cute, her heart skips a beat and she runs away. Next day, Mito prepares to enter the don club. She can’t help think about Souma and I think this is her motivation of showing up. But where is Souma? Well, Konishi breaks the bad news that Souma told him he only came to check the club out and not join it. So mad and so upset that she became more violent than before.

Episode 8
There is a training camp coming up but it is no walk in the park. This is where hell begins. This is where the downsizing of students starts. Based on last year’s camp, many who failed the camp’s test were expelled. Megumi can’t stop shaking… She can die any time… So while this camp might look grand and luxurious (heck, the entire resort is owned by Totsuki), everyone there is just damn gloomy. They know their head is on the chopping board and it gets gloomier when they see Souma. This year’s camp will be special because the alumni of Totsuki has come back to help. Yup, the greatest chefs of the academy are here to torture everyone like the demons they have turned into. Too harsh? Well, take a look at this. There is this one kid whereby a chef immediately expels him because he could smell his hair scent shampoo that would interfere with his food aroma! Of all the great alumni, the greatest of them all is Gin Dojima and he wastes no time in telling them if they cannot satisfy the minimum requirements, out they go. I’m sure Megumi is glad she is paired up with Souma again. But bad blood is brewing when half Italian Takumi Aldini and his fatty twin brother Isami purposely step on Souma’s shoes as a declaration of war. Their class is headed by Hinako Inui who tells them to make a Japanese cuisine based on the natural ingredients found in this area. They have 2 hours. This causes panic as the students rush to get them. This is of course a ploy to weed out those who cannot handle such pressure. Because everyone is busy fishing, the twins came back with duck meat and other forms of meat. They use their fast chopping skills as they mention their restaurant for the masses back in Italia which is pretty much similar to Souma’s family restaurant. They finish the dish fish and Inui tastes the incredible duck meat (Pavarotti singing opera in a duck mask?!). Even the seemingly Italian sauce is an improvisation to turn it into a Japanese version. Safe to say, they pass. What you gonna do Souma?

Episode 9
3 years ago in Florence, Italy, the Aldini brothers were already pros in their cooking. Yeah, they’ve got girls and even gays asking them out! However, their father thought they lacked something from the heart despite their skills and sent them to Totsuki to find a worthy rival. And when Souma made that aggravating statement, it just riled Takumi up. Inui agrees to judge the competition and the loser will kneel and admit he is the loser. Souma gets started and due to the ‘loophole’ in Inui’s rule, he takes her kaki no tane tea snack as his ingredient and lets Takumi hold on to it. While Megumi looks for ingredients and Souma finding chicken eggs (chicken attack!), the other teams begin to finish but Inui is not impressed. Those people have no idea and made the same grilled fish. Despite only having 15 minutes left, that is enough time for Souma to finish. He makes a breaded fish dish using kaki no tane as the breading. Crunchy and tasty of course! It sends Inui into a mermaid delusion reaction. I wonder how mermaids have sex… When it is time to judge whose is better, Inui can’t make up her mind. Then she gets a call from fellow alumni, Koujirou Shinomiya that she is late since all groups have to return to the hotel at a certain time. As she hurries everyone back into the bus, what about the decision? Well… She’ll just postpone it and revisit it another day. Hah. An excuse to run away and this sure doesn’t leave a good taste in Takumi’s mouth. I guess the suspense will continue to kill them. Although no formal decision was made, Takumi felt he lost. If you think the students are going to get their deserved break back at the hotel, think again. With the university clubs staying nearby, they have to make 50 servings each before retiring. Oh, they have to make their own food too. It is going to be a mad rush feeding all those macho men! Bodybuilders, wrestlers and American footballers… Feel the machoism! Those who fail will be expelled immediately! It becomes a mad rush. Souma becomes the first complete his task. He uses his free time to head to the bath but guess who he bumps into on his way in? Oh, it’s that b*tch Erina…

Episode 10
Erina is embarrassed that Souma caught her humming and prancing happily. It even gets worse when Souma use ambiguous words explaining to Hisako like as though he pushed her down and did something! When Souma heads into the bath, he sees Dojima flexing his muscles. Man, this guy should have been a bodybuilder. Usually Dojima takes his bath while the students cook up those 50 servings. Not many can finish before he gets out. Last year it was Isshiki. This has Souma realize that this means Erina finished faster than him. Then he hears certain stories about her divine tongue that includes one whereby she accurately identified correctly the origins or each salt dish in blindfold. Souma and Megumi are now in Shinomiya’s class. They are to make some vegetable dish based on his recipe, terrine. Megumi thought she could rely on Souma again but here’s the bad news. Shinomiya will not allow team work. This is an individual assignment and no help is allowed. This means even if you help point out something is doing it wrong slightly, you both get fired! Poor guys… Megumi realizes she can’t depend on Souma and must use her creativity to figure this one out. Especially when she is left with some ingredients that are already not fresh. Speaking of which, the fight gets even tougher when students have to fight for the ingredients when Shinomiya tells them to treat each other as enemies. Tasting time. He fails many. Souma passes of course. Megumi finally finishes hers and is the last to present. He tastes it. He fails her! OMG! What in the world?! Care to explain? No doubt she used vinegar to preserve the freshness, she altered his recipe and he this is not allowed!!! WTF?! Souma does not accept and instead points out Shinomiya’s responsibility to prepare fresh ingredients as some of them weren’t. Is he a failure as a chef? Then Shinomiya admits why he put some vegetables that weren’t fresh: So he can limit those he needs to pass! Usually those who panic or slow ones will be those who will go. Souma argues Megumi’s creativity to cover for that but Shinomiya will not allow any changes to his recipe. As the top chef, he has the authority to even fire him! So one more complaint… Souma is seething with anger but Megumi doesn’t want him to risk it on her behalf. But after all her smiles, you think Souma gives a sh*t about this crap? Only one thing left to do: He challenges Shinomiya to Shokugeki. If he beats him, he will rescind Megumi’s expulsion.

Episode 11
Did you know Shinomiya was the former number one seat of the Elite Ten? Oh, who cares? At least not Souma. However Shinomiya has no intention to accept this Shokugeki and Megumi’s expulsion is final. But Dojima holds his horses and not be too hasty. Inui is quite fond of Megumi so she is trying to put childish pressure on Shinomiya to reverse his decision. Not working. Dojima suggests an unofficial Shokugeki beneath the hotel’s annex and since they can’t interrupt the camp, they’ll have to do it after the afternoon session. Shinomiya still won’t accept this but that glaring stare in Dojima’s eyes tell him to f*cking accept it. The other alumni guys are also here as judge. Too bad Inui is reduced to a spectator since we all know her bias towards Megumi. Dojima lays down the rules. They will use the leftover vegetables from that session to make another main vegetable dish. However there is a condition for Megumi. She is the lead chef and Souma is only her assistant. This means she has to decide and make the call. No doubt Souma called on this challenge, if their team wins based on his decision, it would mean Megumi was just riding on to him and it won’t be long before she gets expelled. She must prove herself if she wants to continue to stay. If Souma cannot trust her cooking, then he should withdraw from this match. Megumi becomes panicky in trying to think her next step. She’s thinking she has gotten this far thanks to Souma. But after he slaps her hands to calm her down, he makes her think of all the good cooking she has done. Don’t care what the enemy is doing. Focus on your own. It brings her back to all those good memories as she gets her confidence and starts her preparations. Souma proves himself worthy as her assistant as he prepares all the necessary ingredients in great timing. Time to judge. Shinomiya goes first. You know it tastes good when you see that naked delusion reaction. In short after all that explanation, his dish is like magic! So much so the judges turn into a magical girl unit! HOLY CRAP!!! Safe to say that his dish lives up to expectations but Dojima is a bit disappointed because he was expecting him make his signature dish from his restaurant. However Shinomiya’s arrogance means he didn’t think it was necessary against a student. Now it’s Megumi’s turn to present. Still nervous? Don’t falter after coming this far. Everyone is surprised she makes that terrine dish.

Episode 12
Everyone is singing praises over Megumi’s dish. They’re even fighting what kind of cute fairy deity she is supposed to represent! But ultimately the final decision has the judges voting for Shinomiya. A unanimous decision! Gasp! It’s heartbreaking to see her in tears. Dojima despite not a judge, puts his single vote for Megumi. What is the meaning of this? He tells him to look into Megumi’s dish and believes Shinomiya’s skills as a chef is stagnating. 10 years ago when Shinomiya graduated from Totsuki and flew to France to begin his dream, he quickly earned praises from customers for his dishes. However jealousy soon abound as his own chefs sabotage his recipe. Then the complaints came piling in and Shinomiya is driven to a knife’s edge. In a desperate move, he kicks out all his staffs that were against him and became absolutely strict with those under him. It’s his way or the highway. Shinomiya rebounded and became even more popular than ever till he won the prestigious Pluspol award. Dojima believes ever since he got that award, he has lost sight of what is most important. Thus the reason he doesn’t want to use his signature dish was because he didn’t want them to find out his cooking has hit the wall. Shinomiya is forced to try out Megumi’s dish. As usual he complains at what it lacks but something that makes it as though the dish is speaking to him from the heart. So the flashback with his mom in his paddy field was just to tell us the cooking reminds him of his mother’s tender love? He is so touched that he votes for Megumi’s dish! He realizes some sort of spice that Megumi put in her dish. She explains that all the judges have been eating and judging various foods since yesterday and this spice is to ease their digestion. How thoughtful! With Inui putting her vote for Megumi, the match is now at a tie. I guess this means nobody gets expelled, right? Dojima praises Megumi’s hospitality as a valuable edge. Now she is in tears again. Heck, I thought she is either crying or nervous throughout the entire time. With Shokugeki over, Dojima’s plan to save both chefs worked out well. Shinomiya has once again discovered his hunger to learn and absorb everything again. Although Megumi thanks Souma, personally that guy feels bitter because he considered this draw as a loss. He had intended to win. They return to their friends who have been worried sick about their fate. Yeah, the tension almost killed them.

Episode 13
Isshiki welcomes his fellow dorm mates back. But wait! Souma is buffed up like a Super Saiyan and the rest turned into delinquents! Except for Ibusaki who regressed being a caveman and Marui reduced to being glasses! Thank goodness it was just a dream as everyone is still at the camp. Everyone thought they will have a well deserved rest. Till Dojima tells them to gather at the hall. He mentions the next challenge is to come up with an innovative breakfast menu that will be served by 6am. The main ingredient is egg. So you either use the remaining time to experiment or rest. Well, sh*t… Of course Souma gets cracking and he remembers his dad’s advice of why he cannot simply introduce a new dish for the sake of having something different. It must be something familiar and yet have the element of surprise. Next day, everyone gets ready to start their buffet breakfast. Erina is irked when Souma’s counter is just right next to hers. Dojima then makes the announcement the judges will be by the people who made the ingredients and their family. Yeah, a huge crowd of commoners streaming in. Also part of the judging will be the service staffs of the hotel. Another criterion for passing is that they must serve 200 servings. So we have all our usual suspects like Takumi, Mito and even Megumi getting praised with their innovation. I guess you can tell Megumi improved a lot when the grandpa wants her to marry his grandson!!! And of course the best praise still has to go to Erina whose Egg Benedict dish has everyone bowing before the queen b*tch bee. But how is Souma doing? To everybody’s shock, he has less than 10 servings made! Something is wrong!

Episode 14
Souma realizes why nobody is picking up his soufflé. Because his diner is always served after customers made their order, in a buffet, it is the customers who decide when they pick your dish. And his soufflé has to be eaten piping hot otherwise it will lose its texture. Furthermore, Erina is stealing his customers. I’m sure she would love to rub it in his face but he is deep in concentration remembering his dad made him multi-task but he ended up panicking and confused. He was told about focusing the task at hand so Souma looks at the time left (30+ minutes) and how much time is needed to make his dish. All he needs to do know is attract one customer. He weaves his ‘magic’ in front of a little girl. So when she tastes it, it attracts others to try out his dish. The crowd soon gathers at Souma’s counter to watch him multi-task and create his awesome soufflé. While all of our usual characters have already passed the 200 servings mark, everyone is anxiously waiting for Souma to do that. Right at the dot before time is up, he reaches the target. Phew. Close shave. Before Erina can start b*tching about whatever, then pops up this girl, Alice Nakiri. Not too say she is impressed with Souma but she didn’t really expect him to pull off this ‘magic’ in such limited time. If her name sounds familiar, she is Erina’s cousin. As Erina is the only one who surpassed the 400 servings, Alice is second place with 380 and could have gone beyond that had she not ran out of ingredients. She calls Souma’s live cooking show as an outdated circus show because she believes in cutting edge cooking. Then there are some ramblings about her parents making Denmark as their base for some cutting edge food research, blah, blah, blah. Then there is that rivalry with Erina since young and she came here to crush her and take top spot till Souma showed up. But surprising her is how Souma owns up to his failure and mistake and how he learns from failures. The hellish training camp continues with more tasks in the next few hours. Just when all the students are tired, they are called to gather at the hall. First, Dojima talks about the harshest path that the chefs go through, blah, blah, blah. And just when everyone thought the final task would be the most daunting ever, it is actually a congratulatory meal created by the alumni for them! Congratulations to all 628 who survived and passed this training camp. I guess it is worth the reward to be treated like honoured guests. Souma now believes his dad was right in sending him here.

Episode 15
As the students are leaving, if you’re wondering why Inui is bugging Megumi aside her obsession over her, as we find out, this camp also serves as a place for the alumni to recruit future potential chefs. Without a doubt Souma has his but he has his family restaurant now and his goal is to make his dad acknowledge his skills. Souma forgot his headband and when he returns, he got on the wrong bus. Filled with old folks! They tasted his dish and loved it. They hope he could use their ingredients in his diner. With so many buses, Souma got confused and lost. Then he missed it. Coincidentally, Erina also returned to retrieve something and missed the bus. Not this jerk again. Luckily somebody manages to hire a car for her. Oh, you know what this means. The duo are in an awkward position the entire ride. If only Souma could stop talking… Then he has to flout her high and mighty attitude by telling him the camp wasn’t just to weed out weaklings. There were guys at the camp judging strong students as candidates for the autumn gourmet festival whereby such students can exercise their skills with other heavyweights in the food industry. Erina disagrees with Souma’s thinking about learning via failure. Because failure is not an option for chefs. Failed foods should not be out there to serve customers. We learn what Erina went back to retrieve was a precious photo of her young self and Jouichirou! If she only knew…

Speaking of which, Fumio thought the kids have come back but it looks like Jouichirou is back in Japan and at Polar Star’s doorstep. So naturally the kids are surprised to see him. What is more surprisingly learning he is Souma’s dad? He is an alumnus of Totsuki, stayed in this dorm and the second seat of the Elite Ten! Too much for you to handle, Souma? He cooks for them a feast and safe to say that he has them (how come we only see the girls get the reaction?) dreaming on an Egyptian adventure. He is so good that the girls probably are starting to have hots for Souma! Of course there is a dish which is purposely the worst. Marui had the dishonour to taste it… More revelations about this guy. He went by the name Jouichirou Saiba then and a good friend to Dojima. Oh, he stayed in this dorm too and was the first seat of the Elite Ten! The duo were a formidable team. They won every Shokugeki and turned this land into a self sufficient nation! So all the farms, barns, coops and whatever facilities you see around Polar Star is all thanks to them. Souma gets more surprised when he learns Jouichirou stayed in the very same room he is staying now. Yeah, those marks on the wood are from him. Interested, he spends the rest of the night learning about his days in Totsuki. Next morning, Souma thinks Jouichirou woke him up to help make breakfast. To his surprise, Jouichirou wants to see how much he has improved and thus a cooking contest. Is this why he returned to Japan? Why you look so shocked, Souma? Didn’t see this coming so soon?

Episode 16
Fumio, Isshiki and Megumi are lucky to become the judges. The theme will be breakfast that will invigorate their body. Father and son face off and after an hour, Souma serves his apple rice. Good praises and everything. Now it is Jouichirou’s turn. Fumio is sceptical as he has a habit of adding random bits into his dish. So when his ramen dish pops up, they think he is fooling around. Till they try it out… Suddenly they cannot stop eating! It must be damn good. To their surprise, there is no meat whatsoever in this completely vegetarian dish despite its texture looking like so but that is only because he was using soybeans via traditional Indonesian way. In the end, everyone unanimously votes for Jouichirou. Souma’s 490th straight loss. Although after tasting Jouichirou’s dish, Souma’s one feels less appetizing, it isn’t actually that bad. Just that it seemed lacklustre. Father and son are so deep into their challenge that each even record the event in their notebook! As fast as he came, Jouichirou soon leaves. Fumio could guess this match was partly to encourage his son as he will soon face many cooking battles at Totsuki. Oh, he left a message for him: Go air the diner once in a while. Fumio suggests Souma return home on the next holiday. Erina thought she spotted Jouichirou walking by. She has her driver stop the car as she runs out to the middle of the road. Thank goodness this isn’t a busy street. But could she be seeing things? No Jouichirou in sight.

Episode 17
Plain girl, Mayu Kurase, Souma’s old classmate has been sighing each time she passes the closed Yukihira diner. So irritating that her friend, Aki Koganei had to tell her off about her crush on Souma. To their surprise, Souma just opened his store. He’s back! Then the other shopping district guys start rushing to him and want him to cook for them! They really miss his cooking. While they enjoy his dishes, they mention a recent problem plaguing the shopping district. A recently opened store at the railway station that sells the best karaage has been stealing their customers. At this rate, they’ll close down. I guess it is up to Souma to save the day. Since the rest have got to work, I guess the only person left to become his taste tester is Mayu. Leave it to Aki to pressure her into it as it will be her only chance to get close to him. Souma thinks hard. He needs more knowledge on karaage and how else specializes in meat? He calls Mito who is irritated somebody is calling her this late. Well what do you know? She is sitting up after hearing Souma’s voice. She’ll gladly lend her help and go to his place. She means it. She’s coming back no matter what! Mito and Mayu meet for the first time and you can tell they’re sizing up each other if this is the girl Souma likes. They visit the karaage specialty store, Mozuya. Run by Kinu Nakamozu, they have won the national karaage contest for 3 straight years and are destined to win it again this year. They notice the shopping district chairman, Yuu Tomita is here disguised to check things out. Too bad that disguise couldn’t hide a thing. In fact, Kinu even lets them try the awesome karaage, divulges some of the ingredients used to make it and then badmouths the shopping district. When Souma proposes about coming up a better one than them, Kinu almost turns into a monster telling him off he doesn’t know anything as a kid. So scary. At least from timid Mayu’s perspective. Souma and Mito get working on their karaage. Although delicious, it still doesn’t quite match up to Mozuya. Souma thought of using Mito’s expensive beef but it’s costly even after all that discount. When Mito notices lost of students passing by at this hour (club activities and the likes), this gives Souma a great idea. He was thinking too far outside the box. They don’t need to fight on their turf although they’ll still be using karaage. They’ll use the shopping district’s potential and come up with the best way to have people enjoy karaage.

Episode 18
Souma explains Mozuya wraps and boxes their karaage for take away. Therefore people tend to take it home and eat. A shopping district won’t have this problem as people can walk and eat. This is how they’ll fight them. Despite coming up with some samples, the karaage still can’t beat Mozuya. After brainstorming with the ladies, Tomita comes in believing he has the secret solution that will work. He presents karaage in an onigiri! However the girls point out they’ve already seen this in stores. Unoriginal. But Souma gets an idea from this so everyone starts working overtime to put their karaage operation into action. Aki notices that more and more people are holding wrap rolls and passing by her store. With her sales in steady decline for the 3 days, those who stop by her store are those asking directions where to get this wrap roll! Aki must find out what is happening at the shopping district and to her surprise, it is brimming with life. Souma and co are making those lovely karaage wrap rolls that everyone couldn’t get enough of. Thanks to their great business, the domino effect has other stores in the district to also experience brisk business. I guess Souma can’t help rub it in when he sees her amidst the crowd. Don’t get mad, aunty. Have a taste. And as expected, the awesome fantasy reaction when she takes a bite. It reminds her of some Vietnamese dish. More importantly, the taste evokes the liveliness of the busy shopping district. Screw profits and returns! It is the taste of youth! You lose, lady. While Souma praises Mito, Mayu can’t help today is her last day to be with him. Surprisingly he asks her help. Actually to help part time at Tomita’s store since his store is the flagship store of the karaage wrap roll. Mayu is honoured that despite never talking much with him during school days, he always noticed and observed her hardworking habits. Without hesitation, she accepts to try out. Mito, you feeling jealous? The food critic rates this new delight as 20 points. Out of ten! When Souma returns, he is brought to see Etsuya Eizan. He is a consultant responsible for Mozuya’s expansion among many other food chains. He heard how Souma’s exploits put a dent to his reputation. So is he going to beat him up? Actually, he wants Souma to work for him. Of course he refuses as Souma’s goal is to carry on his family business. Eizan then mocks his limited thinking in his limited world. Unlike others, Eizan is not a chef but a consultant so his goals are different than everyone’s. He warns Souma about the Autumn Elections. Although he has been selected, it will mark his downfall (why do they always say this and count their chickens?). He will make him pay for staining his career. Oh, did he mention that he is on the 9th seat of the Elite Ten. Only ninth? Heck, I thought he was at least second or third if not first.

Episode 19
During the Elite Ten’s meeting to select those for the Autumn Elections, Erina was against Souma’s participation. But this only makes the rest think something happened between them for her to object. In order not to reveal more and because majority wants him in, that’s how Souma got nominated. As usual, the names of 60 candidates split into 2 groups are announced. The top few in each group will advance to the final that is believed to be the precedent for those who will end up on the Elite Ten’s seat. So we have our usual like Souma, Mito, Alice and the Aldini brothers as well new faces like Miyoko Hojo (another one interested in Megumi but feels disappointed when she claims Souma helped her during the Shokugeki with Shinomiya), Nao Sadatsuka (a Sadako-look-a-like who fawns over Erina and hates Hisako for being close to her idol), Ryo Kurokiba (Alice’s lackadaisical assistant) and Akira Hayama (tanned guy). As the theme for the preliminaries is curry, Souma remembers Jouichirou told him if he needs advice for spice, go to see Jun Shiomi who is the queen of spices. Mention his name because Shiomi was his junior. So at this rundown lab and messy room, Shiomi is a petite girl despite being 34 years old?! Did time stop? Or is it the spice of youth? But when Souma mentions he is the son of Jouichirou, Shiomi punches him! She hates that guy and will not have anything to do with his family! Here’s why. She stayed at the same dorm with him and was subjected to his terrible food experiments. Yeah. I guess that’s where the trauma comes from. Hayama is also working here as her assistant but it looks like he is the one who is wearing the pants around. While Shiomi starts her boring incomprehensible lecture of spice on the whiteboard, Hayama prefers to let Souma experience curry spice and lets him savour the various curry dishes he made. Even Souma is not spared from that delusional naked reaction. Of course after all that testing, Hayama still thinks Souma is lacking to be the top dog of this school. This sets the tone for their rivalry as Souma will make a better curry dish than his. Hayama still doesn’t think so because his nose is special and that fragrance is the key to victory.

Episode 20
There aren’t many weeks left to the Autumn Elections. Everybody is trying hard as usual and some take the chance to go back to their families. Souma as usual stays up all night to find a new inspirational dish. He definitely needs to sleep on it. Meanwhile, we detour to a few other characters like Miyoko who enrolled at Totsuki to earn some credibility so she won’t be bullied by men when she returns to her home, and Nao cooking some witch broth inside her creepy room that has posters adoring Erina and as well as curses for Hisako the b*tch. All 60 candidates gather at the hall where Senzaemon starts off with his manly speech. Only 4 from each group may proceed to the final. Do the math and this means only 8 of them will progress. I have a hunch who will make it… The most shocking thing everyone finds is how Isami has slimmed down that he looks like a different person! Must be the summer heat burning away those fats… Nobody is interested in you, Takumi… Both groups separate into different halls and start working their magic. Expect to see lots of dramatic cooking effects. Also, bigwigs from the food industry from old geezers to obnoxious broad moguls watching and counting their chickens which candidates they like for the finals. In group A, we have Souma, Mito, Ryouko, Ibusaki, Marui, Ryo and Hayama among those we know. For group B, Megumi, Yuki, Alice, Takumi, Isami, Hisako, Nao and Miyoko. The big shocker when everybody notices Souma sleeping on the job!!! Is he serious?!

Episode 21
Souma springs to life when the fragrance from his pot is cooked. We take a detour to see how Megumi is doing. Clumsy as usual. Everybody is shocked and wondering how she is going to cut up that giant monkfish. That flashback of how she was harshly trained to do so since young is perhaps the reason why we now understand she could cut it up like a pro. Time is up and time for judging. All the low level failures will of course go first. Despite the praises, they get very low scores because those judges deal with professionals every day so their dishes do not really stand out. Nobody has broken into the 40 points threshold and some even got a single digit. It is Nao’s turn to serve. Her dish stinks like hell! Is it made from sewer and toilet?! Does she plan to kill the judges?! But when they taste it, it tastes delicious! Despite its stinking stench, they can’t help become addicted to eating it. Eventually she scores a high 84 points. Now it is Hisako’s turn. Two years ago, the duo had a showdown in a Shokugeki in which Hisako won. This meant Nao had to stay 50 metres away from Erina but the deal had a loophole so Nao continued to spy Erina from afar and sent her 30 letters a day! The judges taste Hisako’s dish and their bodies turn muscular! In short, her dish contains medicinal spices in which she specializes in. Nao can’t believe her curse has been undone so Hisako lets her taste her dish. It’s so good that it purifies her evil! The damning blow is when Hisako tells her that Nao’s cooking is only about herself whereas Hisako has always had Erina in mind. That is the difference between them. Hisako jumps to first place with 92 points. But you know what is even scarier? Nao is now looking up to Hisako as her one-sama!!! Oh sh*t!!!

Episode 22
Miyoko scores 87 points with her pineapple curry fried rice while Yuki scores 86 with her duck curry cutlet dish. Isami hands the judges his version of Italian curry bread and scores 87 points to tie with Miyoko. Takumi serves curry pasta with parmesan cheese to take his total up to 90 points. And there is this short flashback how Isami always wanted to break away from Takumi’s shadow. At one point he earned the ire of his dad when he changed the recipe just to be different and risking the customer’s trust. Takumi consoled him and told him that they will move forward together. But looks like today, Isami still has a lot to catch up. Alice serves some strange indescribable dish. She assures everything is made out of curry. Oddly, the judges who have been so vocal in explaining every damn dish suddenly are lost for words! It is so good that they can’t describe it! Tongue tied?! Because of that, Alice takes the opportunity to explain all that scientific molecule crap. WTF?! I didn’t know food was that complicated???!!! She jumps to first place with 95 points. Since 4th place is a tie between Miyoko and Isami, there is going to be a vote off. But how could everybody forget Megumi existed? She wasn’t that exciting, huh? Yeah, they don’t put much hope on her and want to be quick about it. But when they taste her monkfish curry nabe, they feel all the warmth in it. With her explanation of her hometown ingredients to boost everything, what score will she receive? I guess all those flashbacks serve as dramatic effect as Megumi gets… 88 points!!! OMG! She just snuck into fourth place! She dumped favourites Miyoko out! And it is sure one hell of an odd scene to see Miyoko and her manly monkfish teachers together. I can only think of some weird porn of a young girl surrounded by old men… Really! Meanwhile judging for group A is even tougher. Because we have a judge who is more b*tchier than the rest and has not given any score except zero!

Episode 23
Ryo serves his lobster curry with cognac and for the first time evokes superb reaction from the judges. It’s not over yet because they need to put droplets into the lobster head and it made them slurping like gluttons! Lobster ship blast off to space! How can you even be naked in space?! For this heavenly dish, he scored 93 points! Next is Mito with her curry meat layered dish. Good enough for 86 points. Then there is Ryouko with her natto and soy sauce curry dish that also earns her 86 points. Marui shows his research on taste in a dish that has the judges slurping without pausing. That itself is worth 88 points. Now herald Ibusaki, dubbed the Prince of Smoke because everything in his dish is just smoked. Really. He scores 88 points too. Now it is Hayama’s turn. They expected some curry fish head but what the heck is this, uhm, cupcake? It is actually naan and they have to start off by breaking its crust with the spoon.

Episode 24
It’s a bomb fragrance! OMG! Bomb appetite! Haha! And yeah, we have all that explanation about some super spice he uses but who cares. Even b*tch judge wants him to be hers but that loyal guy says he only belongs to Shiomi. Hayama jumps to first place with 94 points and for the first time 2 of the judges gave him perfect score! With group A finishing early, they rush over to group B because they are all eager to know how Souma is doing. Yeah, that guy… Hold on to you horses, guys. His turn is coming up. Hmm… Omelette dish? It’s another bomb fragrance! OMG! Bomb appetite again! Haha! This time the first time they put it in their mouth, they felt a punch! Yes! A punch! Punch line? I guess they’re okay being masochists. And yes, another hell of an explanation of some super spice and manga he used. Blah, blah, blah. Okay, okay, we get it. So what is his final score? 93 points, a tie with Ryo. Not bad, right? Well, if you consider Souma who is seriously out to win. But the judges are fighting among themselves over Hayama and Souma’s curry!!! The other should be better!!! Back at Polar Star, all our related parties are invited for a big party. Miyoko made peace with Megumi and will root for her at the finals. Erina is a spoil sport and won’t join Alice and Ryo in whatever celebrations citing work. But she did congratulate them and Hisako for making it. But something bugs Erina even more. During Souma’s dish, she got raped by his fragrance bomb! Oh no! Not that feeling again! As usual, she hates him. Souma and Megumi talk about how far they have come. Especially Megumi who almost came close to expulsion but look where she is today. Yeah, it brings back memories. She has him to thank for. They are interrupted when everybody joins in for a second round of party. Souma wants to cheer everybody up with his dish. Oh no. Squid yoghurt! OMG! Megumi got tentacle raped!!! Yeah, it brings back memories after all. One big bugging question: WHO THE HELL IS THE FOURTH QUALIFIER FROM GROUP A SEEING MARUI AND IBUSAKI TIED AT FOURTH PLACE??????!!!!!!!!!!! P/S: Actually I went online and did my research but I won’t spoil it by putting it here. Consider it my way of leaving a little end season tension and cliff-hanger ;p.

OVA 1
Like as though Takumi and Isami didn’t have enough screen time in the series so they have their own OVA episode to justify they should be one of the heavyweights. Anyway, the brothers are visiting Tokyo. At the tower’s top, because Takumi once again is thinking about his gay rivalry with Souma, Isami shifts that attention by stomping on the glass floor! I wonder if they got kicked out. Then they visit a cosplay café but they couldn’t recognize Urara as the waitress serving them. Good for her, right? We catch a glimpse of other characters in the series doing their own stuffs but nothing of importance to the story. The brothers then stumble into Megumi, Yuki and Ryouko. They try out a local restaurant and after they order, this grumpy old man, Bun mocks the way they order their fried rice with cheese. Takumi would have let it slide had he not insult them about not knowing the ingredients needed. So you guessed it. Time for a cooking battle. So they are making monjayaki. Bun goes first and he might not be a professional chef but he did win first place in some (obscure?) regional cooking competition. As usual, it tastes good. Blows everyone away. Yeah, wait till you taste the Italian brothers. Bun is shocked when they didn’t make a genuine Italian dish but used seaweed to incorporate into their monjayaki. Definitely tastes better than Bun’s, right? And there’s some explanation to praise Japanese cuisine how they will adopt any dish to add to its national richness. Funny, I thought a few years ago there was this sushi police issue thingy… Bun’s grumpiness is blown away once he tastes it. Now we learn why he is so grumpy. His daughter got engaged to a blonde foreigner. He didn’t like it and didn’t give his blessings. And with the power of cultural acceptance and the likes, Bun is going to make amends. Yes, people. All hail the mighty Japanese cuisine!

OVA 2
Like as though there wasn’t enough fanservice in the series so they have their own OVA episode to justify some skin. Erina has done everything needed for the Autumn Elections so she finds herself very free. Cue for Alice to drop in to take her to the pool to let her experience what commoners do. Whatever. Meanwhile the Polar Star Dorm girls are also trying to stave off the summer heat. Megumi is already losing it… So when they manage to fill up the small pool, it is so crammed up. Yuki, please don’t blame Ryouko’s boobs for hogging all the space! Eventually the plan fails but Souma and Isshiki happen to pass by and invite them to somewhere cooler. But first, Souma went to Mito to invite her too. At first she thought it was a date and was eager. Till she finds out he invited everybody else. She starts sulking and won’t go. Okay. Suit yourself. Back over to our ladies with heavenly bodies, Alice is preaching how it is pretty normal for guys trying to hit on them. However there won’t be any because the guys noticed the SPs as well as Ryo’s fiery aura in the background. Life more important than libido. Alice tricks Erina into mentioning about a guy she admires. She’s got it all recorded. You might want to think the qualities Erina describes of her ideal man sounds like Souma’s the dude… Souma and the gang arrive at a beautiful lake within the campus grounds. They have shaved ice and the guys start some sort of speed eating competition. As usual, Takumi is going to challenge Souma on just about everything. Later, Mito drops in and she still plays the tsundere card of being picky on how to eat her shaved ice so Souma keeps teasing her about it (abandoning his unofficial challenge with Takumi). Erina leaves the pool somewhat disappointed but Alice is glad to see the silly look on her face in a changing towel. Once Souma and co are done with their shaved ice. Fumio is here to get started on the BBQ. To top it all, the nice fireworks. Nothing like summer, right?

Food For The Gods
I hope you still have stomach for more because there is good news that there is going to be a second season! So you think that watching this first season is the entire main course? Nope! This is just actually the appetizers! Yeah. With so much potential for just about everything, it is no surprise that another season is much needed. I just hope that we do not have to wait long between the appetizer and main course. You know how it could be irritating waiting in between the food. You finished your appetizers too fast and already in the mood for more but you have got to wait and hope that you won’t lose your appetite while doing so.

Shokugeki No Souma’s storyline and direction of the plot isn’t anything original and it could be as predictable as its other similar genre counterparts like Chuuka Ichiban and Yakitate! Japan. It is so typical, cliché and predictable that perhaps this is the only way to go when you do this kind of genre. I mean, how else is there going to be to make a food battle exciting? That is why Souma as the main character sometimes feel generic in this sense as he is some sort of an outcast compared to the rest of the cast who has some sort of pedigree and rich colourful prestige from their family background. Because it is always more exciting for the dark horse to win and shut up those cocky chefs who are high on their horses, right? Even as typical as any other shonen anime, he fights in challenges and makes friends and rivals along the way. He always comes up tops with his creation that wows and blows everybody away. In the end, he still isn’t perfect and has a long way to go because like Jouichirou’s role as his super chef dad is to remind us that somebody will always be better than you and thus the need for Souma never to rest on his laurels and do better. I mean, isn’t it so typical and cliché that having such strong rivals always motivate you to do better? And oh, the dish that always gets tasted first always loses. Yeah, the most typical of the lot! How else would our main character surprise everybody with his super come back? And maybe the judges forgot how the earlier dishes tasted because this awesome one is so recent in memory it just wipes them out from their memory and records.

When you have such a food competition where people fight it out via cooking and judges to judge them, it goes without saying that the exaggerated reactions to describe how f*cking delicious their food is a given. It is also a cue for me to laugh at all the silly reactions that I see because seriously, even if I get to taste the best food ever in the universe, I know I’ll never ever do such a thing. Okay, maybe I have never tasted the best :’(. But still, it is really funny to see the sort of creativity that they put in for those ‘victims’ to come up with flowery description just for this dish. And sometimes if the judge involves a woman, you’ll definitely get your naked fanservice reaction. Yeah, so good that you need your body to breath! And that is why, such reaction segments are like food porn. Heck, it even borders close to being hentai. Especially some female characters already look so slutty and like a porn star. Whatever heavy breathing and reaction they do here only serves to look like porn and hentai. Really. If this could actually replace sex, it would have been done a long time ago. Speaking of fanservice, I suppose that provides many of the fanservice scenes of the series. So you’ve heard of tentacle rape. But via food? That’s something… For high school students, girls really have a big bust like Mito that keeps bouncing from time to time to distract our eyes from the food to her melons. Yum?

One thing that really bugs me throughout the series is not the delusional reactions or the amazing food that they make. It is the way that they portray such a heavenly cooking that they make it as though only the best would do. Don’t get the wrong idea. Good cooking is definitely what everyone deserves (even a basic human right) and crap cooking should be weeded out. However the way I see in making and preparing these dishes, it just feels impossible to be practical for the masses. It doesn’t help with some snobbish and obnoxious characters like Erina and Shinomiya having such a very high palette that decent good food just doesn’t cut it. I know they want the best and to maintain that standard worldwide. But they have got to understand that everybody is different. Not everybody has such a high godly tongue like that Erina b*tch. Not everybody is a perfect machine that could live up to expectations like in Shinomiya’s case. They want food that is so freaking high in every aspect that it is just f*cking hard to please them just a tiny bit. Then what is the point of everything then?

Therefore Totsuki feels like a place for making food that commoners (which I believe occupy a greater part of the world) out of reach. They think their creation is ultimate and it is a pity that they are clouded by this vision that makes them unable to have a wider range that opens their eyes and mind. That is why my only grouse with this anime is the way food is portrayed so grand and majestic and the standards that must go with it, it is like mocking us commoners that we do not have the right to taste or even savour such cooking. That is why we need a little shake up when God sent Souma over to Totsuki. And the other little thing is that despite the title of this anime, we just had one stinking Shokugeki. Yes, just one. Don’t count that unofficial Shokugeki whereby Megumi was going to get her ass handed to her if she failed and besides, that wasn’t a Shokugeki that Souma was the star. I mean, he has got his name even in the series title, right? That is why the only Shokugeki showdown was with Mito and in the early episodes. Cheated? Disappointed?

But aside these little complaints of mine, all the food looks really great and delicious and sometimes I caught myself drooling and my stomach actually growled! Wow. Talk about how effective their cooking looks even if it is just 2D animation. They did put in some effort to make them look good. But thankfully no matter how good or ‘real’ it looks, at least I didn’t have that feeling of wanting to take a bite off the monitor! That would be tad embarrassing. Okay, so this leads to another little ‘complaint’ of mine. I WANT TO TASTE THOSE DISHES THAT THEY MAKE!!! Even the curry dishes at the Autumn Elections also made me want to try. I am not a person who likes spicy stuffs and any curry dishes I would automatically stay away with extreme prejudice. But with the creativity of these budding chefs, it really made me want to taste them. Of course in real life I still stay away from curry. I just wanted to taste THEIR curry.

The characters are a mixed baggage. There are a handful of them although mainly it is about Souma. Well, he has got his name even on the series’ title, right? As typical as he can be, like many protagonists, he is scorned by many who don’t know him just because he doesn’t fit or pass a certain criteria (he is just like that guy in Mahouka Koukou No Rettousei in this sense) but in this case he just pissed off everybody with is opening statement. A statement enough for every minor background character that will not go further and for sacrificial purposes to hold a grudge on him forever till they get kicked out. I mean, really. Why the animosity of what he said? If you don’t like it, then prove it! Probably the reason why Souma excels is his density in not knowing much about the protocols of everything. Things that others are expected to know. This is both good and bad thing because this makes him less stiff as he is able to go in his own pace and creativity. Unlike silly wuss who shiver in fear of great names, Souma is just blur of whom this supposed famous character is. The other bad thing about him is his very bad foods. Everybody has their virginity violated tasting it. How can someone so good be this bad? Well, nobody is perfect.

Then there is Megumi who is always a bundle of nerves. She is such a worrywart that she might start losing her hair at an early age or at least have them all turned white. Panicking is her main trait as you never fail to see her in such distress whenever she is going to face such tough crap. And always she pulls off an incredible come back feat thanks to Souma at first and finally by her own accord. It is a great achievement to see her crawl out from her shell, someone who is failure material to someone who can stand among the ranks of the best chefs. Heck, aside Souma, she is the only other Polar Star member who made it to the final round of the Autumn Elections. Am I right? I guess the rest are just for ‘sacrifices’. I suppose that even if many of the characters feel so cliche, it is the only thing you can do for variation in the characters department so that it won’t be unbalanced whereby the food tastes and looks great but the characters are so bland. So from top b*tches like Erina, her loyal yuri assistant Hisako, stalker material Nao (who is now so much into Hisako), cocky Alice, split personality Ryo, exhibitionist Isshiki, eternal passionate rival Takumi, fiery meat expert (in all aspects) Mito and the whole lot bunch of other characters that haven’t appeared yet including a big majority of the Elite Ten.

Some feel like running jokes like those brawling bros of Polar Star whom I can’t be bothered to remember their names because all they ever do is fight among each other even if it is just the norm and their way of communicating. I’m sure they have some skills too but they are the lowest compared to the rest that they have been relegated to just comical characters and cheerleaders for the final arc’s competition. Then there is this penchant of using Marui’s room to gather and have fun while leaving that studious guy dead as a zombie. It’s more fun bugging him, right? Why study all alone? Come join the fun! Then there is Urara who is the cutie host whom every boy would love to drool over and girls love to hate and kill. Yeah, this girl loves the limelight and feels vengeful if it is taken away from her when her due is not over.

These kids are so great and since they are only first year students, they even have silly nicknames that coincide with the food they specialize in! I mean, who the f*cks give them these nicknames?! It’s just funny that they are so good, they are still in school instead of out there in the world showcasing and mesmerizing hungry gourmet people. I guess you can’t do that without a graduation certificate. It enhances your credibility. I mean, would you rather hire a new employee with a degree or one that has none? But these kids already so good and some of their reputation precede them so there should be no problem if the public eat their food, right?

You can’t have food talk and battles all the way so perhaps a little distraction in the romance section might add and give a little character and plot development. Heh. Like we’ll ever believe that. Although nothing solid is seen, but we viewers can’t help speculate Souma x Megumi because for a girl who is close to failing and this guy is like her prince in shining armour, always coming to her rescue in her hour of need, typically doesn’t this sow the seeds of love? And with Erina being a tsundere, it should make sense every main character should have his little diverse harem. Plain girl Mayu and the American chick Mito. Oh yeah, almost every girl loves him. If you don’t want straight romance, how about a little yuri, girl on girl romance? Is there? Well, if you’re talking about Erina x Hisako (well, it looked like yuri) as well as Hisako vs Nao over Erina just rings it. How about bromance? Yeah, those brawling dudes of Polar Star might be it but we don’t care about them, do we? It might be more probable for Takumi and Souma. You know how annoying that Italian kid is trying to get Souma’s attention and bragging about his future win, right? Well, let’s hope something more won’t turn out of it and make fujoshi fans die of nose bleed to death. Don’t get me started on Isshiki’s naked butt. So the romances between characters aren’t this series’ strength to say the least. So if you want romance, just stick to the food.

Art and drawing feels okay. Characters look like your conventional Japanese anime although some designs are meant to give the character, uhm, character. Like Souma as your typical hero must have spiky hair although they aren’t that towering. Some have strange designs just for differentiation like Konishi with his pompadour hairstyle and Ryo with his dark bags under his eyes so much so I thought it was just black war paint. If the character designs aren’t giving you visual candy, then it must be the food then. It goes without saying. Like I have said, there have been efforts in making the dishes look sumptuous and good enough. Too bad as a viewer we can only watch all the goodness and it is sad we can translate all that by tasting them.

With an amazing amount of characters, main, supporting and even extra background ones, it is no surprise that the cast list is a long one. Therefore quite a number of recognizable seiyuus from the line up. Like Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Souma and although this isn’t exactly one of his many typical heroic hero roles as he is pigeonholed into, it is still nevertheless the main character with so called hero-like qualities. And of course, I am so glad to hear my favourite Mamiko Noto as Inui and thanks to the nature of this series, I can be rest assured they won’t kill off another character. Nobody dies in this anime, RIGHT???!!! Unless… The rest of some of the veteran seiyuus I recognized include Rikiya Koyama as Jouichirou, Takehito Koyasu as Dojima, Yuuichi Nakamura as Shinomiya, Junichi Suwabe as Hayama, Tomokazu Sugita as Eizan, Takahiro Sakurai as Isshiki and Mikako Takahashi as Shiomi.

The rest of the casts are Minami Takahashi as Megumi (Saturn in Hi-sCool! Seha Girls), Risa Taneda as Erina (Yukina in Strike The Blood), Chinatsu Akasaki as Alice (Yasuna in Kill Me Baby), Shizuka Ishigami as Mito (Stella in Rakudai Kishi No Cavalry), Natsuki Hanae as Takumi (Inaho in Aldnoah.Zero), Yuuki Ono as Isami (Moral in Hamatora), Saori Oonishi as Hisako (Eriri in Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata), Nobuhiko Okamoto as Ryo (Accelerator in To Aru Majutsu No Index), Ai Kayano as Ryouko (Inori in Guilty Crown), Maaya Uchida as Yuki (Rikka in Chiinibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Taishi Murata as Ibusaki (Utami in Noragami Aragoto), Yuusuke Kobayashi as Marui (Sougo in Comet Lucifer), Asami Seto as Miyoko (Chihaya in Chihayafuru), Saori Goto as Nao (Barasuishou in Rozen Maiden Traumend), Ai Kakuma as Mayu (Est in Seirei Tsukai No Blade Dance) and Rina Hidaka as Urara (Airi in Ro-kyu-bu).

I like the first opening theme song, Kibou No Uta by Ultratower. Although it sounds like a guy who had been drinking a lot since last night, but at least the tune of the song is quite reasonable to hear as it also gets you into the mood of what this anime is all about. Even the first ending theme is not bad. Spice by Tokyo Karan Koron is exciting because of the nifty electric guitar play in the background. The thing to note in this ending credits animation is that the Polar Star members are depicted as Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting. I hope I am just thinking too much and isn’t some sort of prophecy of something for them. Personally, I feel that the themes don’t sound as a good when they changed them halfway. Rising Rainbow by Misokkasu as the second theme has turned into some sort of dark dramatic rock music. Perhaps it is to foreshadow the direction of the competition but I don’t really like it. ‘Too much noise’. The same sentiments can be said for the second ending theme, Sacchan No Sexy Curry by Seiko Oomori. Despite this is a slow and nearly calming ballad, I somehow find the singer isn’t suitable in singing this song. Something about her voice that just doesn’t feel right. Maybe because there are too many words she is trying to sing and cramming into a line? Otherwise, it would have been an okay song.

Overall, this anime is exactly like what some of the judges’ reaction when they eat a very good meal: They can’t stop eating and want even more even if it is finished! It is a long course meal and the food journey has yet to reach its max in satisfactory yet. There is still room for more of everything and I hope that it doesn’t take too long that my stomach has digested everything and I am back to square one of being hungry all over again. Though this series is not entirely perfect and still has its flaws, but it is highly recommended for anybody who loves food. I thought it would help food lovers and gluttons watch their weight seeing this might be a visual distraction for their stomach but then again, the effect might be totally opposite and make them crave to eat even more. Some people have all the luck. They live to eat instead of eat to live. Say, when is Jouichirou coming to my town to serve up a delicious dish for me?