What do you mean I never caught up on the previous cour in my reviews? That’s silly!
Yes, Food Wars! is back, and it almost feels like it never left. This episode picks up where the last cour left off back at the end of the Fall season, with Erina coming to terms with the fact that Soma is her idol’s son and the announcement of the previously-hinted Advancement Exams. Truth be told, Erina accepts the revelation of Soma’s heritage rather easily, if somewhat begrudgingly. In a way, that’s good because it saves time (and boy does this cour need it if the opening sequence is any indication as to how much of the manga material is going to be squeezed into these episodes). On the other hand, it feels a little wasted for the reveal not to have much of an impact on Erina’s already-fragile mental state. She’s certainly grown during the past batch of episodes, but I’m not sure I’m convinced she’s grown enough to not utterly deny Soma’s link to Joichiro.
Storywise, not much happens this episode. It’s more of a setup episode. Erina laments her clashing mindsets, as part of her agrees with her father, while the other agrees with the Rebels. To perk her up and help solidify her conviction (and probably mostly just for his own selfish satisfaction), Soma whips Erina up classic Yukihira food in order to help Erina remember his father’s cooking. While Soma doesn’t quite receive the acknowledgement and praise for which he yearns, he does succeed in helping Erina decide her path forward. She doesn’t want to be a bystander as creativity — the root of both Soma and his father’s cooking — is burnt to cinders.
Her resolve? To lead the Polar Star Dorm to victory during the Advancement Exams. During his speech to the institute, Eishi essentially declared war on the Rebels, indirectly stating that the exams would be skewed against anyone opposing Azami and Central. Erina takes it upon herself to rally the troops, so to speak, and instills much-needed motivation in the group. How exactly she’s going to help remains to be seen, but we can assume it’ll involve some sort of training given her speech to them.
But what happens if she fails? Well, the Rebels will end up expelled. Plain and simple. Which honestly . . . feels like something we’ve seen as a threat before. Expulsion, in several different forms, continues to be the primary threat or penance of Food Wars!, and while it worked effectively in the beginning, it’s starting to wear thin. We can only be told so many times that our heroes will be expelled before we begin to disregard such statements. When the Polar Star Dorm was being shut down, its residents treated viewers to a touching and fond remembrance of all the good times at the dorm, and everyone makes it clear how badly they want to stay. Now faced with Eishi’s proclamation, the rebels seem to take their predicament sitting down and defeated. There’s no bite in them, nor is there any sorrow. As a result, the whole situation just comes off as more of the same. There’s nothing new to be worried about. If Food Wars! wants to keep its viewers on their toes in the future, it’s going to have to come up with something worse than expulsion to have on the line.
This episode’s most interesting scene is a very quick one just before the opening credits, where Azami makes a promise for Joichiro to bring to reality his skewed vision for the world of cuisine. It’s been a while, so I can’t really remember if it was touched on in an earlier episode, but the fact that Joichiro is somehow a foundation for Azami’s revolution is quite the juicy piece of information. Sadly, the scene only lasts a few seconds, and we’re given no further information. All in due time, I suppose.
Unfortunately, this episode continues the trend of overusing chibi animation. Used sparingly, they’re funny, and there is definitely some well-timed comedy to be harvested from these scenes. However, it’s gotten to the point where this sort of animation takes up a considerable chunk of the episode’s runtime, and as a result it ends up feeling both tiresome and cheap. Food Wars! isn’t the most popular anime in Japan, from what I understand, and I suppose a less-than-stellar budget is to be expected, especially given the general state of Japan’s animation industry at the present. Still, I can’t help but feel there has to be some better way to save on animation costs than to use chibi animation for almost every joke.
Overall, I’m happy to see the show back, but to say I’m excited would be a stretch. Food Wars! seems like it’s going to do what it’s always done: provide solid entertainment without being too ambitious about it. A lot of scenes ultimately work better in the manga, as in anime form they come off as cooking montages, but I do have hopes that the anime this cour can improve the upcoming Totsuki Train Arc, which is definitely one of the most boring parts of the manga. The anime’s pacing can sometimes work against it, but perhaps it’ll come in handy when tackling what’s to come.
Food Wars! The Third Plate - Episode 13
- Continues to build upon Erina's growth from earlier in the season
- Effectively connects Soma's first encounter with Erina to present time
- Non-chibi visuals are fairly solid
- Erina handles the reveal of Soma's father uncharacteristically well
- Continues to lean too heavily into chibi animation
- Feels like we've been around the block with this storyline already