Even knowing what was going to happen, I could not help but find myself swept up in the episode’s darkening atmosphere created by both Tsukasa and Azami.
First things first, though. Apparently there were 5 days in the Festival, something I totally overlooked. I truly thought it was only three days long. Shame on me. Despite Soma overtaking Kuga on the 4th day, the end result is dissatisfying for both parties. Soma won the battle, but lost the war, as Kuga still outdid him in overall sales. Kuga, on the other hand, reveals that since he did not take first place in daily sales each day, he now loses his chance at a rematch shokugeki against Tsukasa. Both parties were, in a sense, victorious, but neither party ended up feeling like they won.
Afterwards, Rindo stops by and whisks Soma and Megumi away to Tsukasa’s restaurant. Therein, they are served a nine-course meal, prepared solely by the first seat himself, as he apparently has zero confidence in other chefs to handle his work. When the trio tastes his food, everything vanishes around them. They are left only with the impression of the food, as if nothing else matters in the world. It’s so pure and serene that they are completely lost in the pure essence of the ingredients. While we still end up having the ripping clothes, the emptiness caused by Tsukasa’s food is an interesting departure on the fantastical representations of taste thus far. It truly highlights his unique mindset regarding the purity of his ingredients and absence of his own persona in his dishes. With a chill, Soma and Megumi realize just how far out of their league Tsukasa is.
Afterwards, Soma decides to drop by Erina’s restaurant, despite it being reservation-only. He’s not the only one, though. Azami Nakiri, Erina’s father, banished from Totsuki, pays a visit as well. Immediately upon entering, Erina completely loses her composure, spiraling into complete terror and submission as she listens to her father berate her customers and spout his ideology that true gourmet is only fit for the upper echelons of society. One has to wonder exactly what his past is with Erina to cause her to totally shut down, given how strong-willed she tends to be. Irritated by Soma’s arrival, Azami takes his leave, but not without running into the current Director of Totsuki, who calls out Azami’s mindset as twisted and wrong. How the shadows of the various car headlights bathe Senzaemon and Azami is really interesting; Azami is cloaked in pure white and black, just like his attire, a representation of how he views the world. Cooking is either gourmet or its for the rabble. Color sparks within Senzaemon, illustrating his view that there exist blurred lines between gourmet and more common food that can be transcended, a trait perfectly illustrated by Soma’s cooking. However, Senzaemon receives the shock of his life when Azami reveals a decision voted on by Elite Ten to replace the Director with Azami himself. I can’t quite understand why anyone, save maybe Tsukasa, would vote in such a way, but I suppose I really don’t know much about the other Elite Ten members anyway.
As Azami is dropping the bombshell on the Director, Rindou tells Soma she thought he of all people would agree with the Elite Ten’s decision. I have to wonder why, especially when Kuga did not support the decision and Rindou sees many similarities between them. It’s interesting that the decision was not unanimous, though (barring Erina), as now room remains for Erina, Kuga, Isshiki, and Megishima to pose some internal conflict within the Elite Ten council. While Azami’s villainous nature is a little overdone, it’s an interesting direction for the series to take. While Totsuki has always been highly competitive, Azami will now begin to implement a regime of complete gourmet – anything not of the highest standard will likely be deemed garbage. While it’s not terribly far from Totsuki’s already radical mindset, Azami does push the mindset into even further extremes. Surely Soma and his gang will somehow rise up to challenge this new rule, and that will likely be the meat of this season. Personally, I can’t wait.