After this episode, I can truly say: Food Wars! is back!
This episode sees Soma testing a few different strategies to combat Kuga’s Sichuan cuisine. While the episode is light on tense and engrossing moments, it makes up for it with smooth pacing and genuine humor. Considering what happened last season, I was scared this season was going to rush through Soma’s festival preparation, but he got practically a full episode to test out what he needed. While a few of the more enjoyable and informative moments in the manga were reduced (including Kuga’s reasoning behind his love of cooking spicy food, one of my favorite scenes), it still feels like the narrative is hitting all the marks it needs to without sacrificing too much detail. In short, even more time for this sort of stuff would be nice, but I’m glad the show is at least not throwing Soma and Kuga into the frying pan without pouring in some oil first to heat things up.
Instead of the episode entirely focusing on Soma, pieces of the episode are spent checking in on the other booths as well, primarily the formation of Alice’s booth, which she strong-arms both poor Hayama and Kurokiba into as well. Their booth provides plenty of humor during this arc, and I’m really looking forward to seeing their interactions play out in anime form, especially considering how all three of them in the past were more “do it alone” type people. Glimpses of other booths are provided as well, including Polar Star’s, Don RS’s, the Aldinis’, and Kuga’s. It’s interesting to see so many characters going head-to-head outside of a traditional tournament. Yes, it’s basically a tournament in disguise, but even this guise is a nice change of pace for shonen anime.
I spoke too soon about the animation, though. The show still looks great overall, even if it plays most everything safe. Nothing stands out, but nothing looks bad (which I feel is a comment I give to most series that just don’t wow me in any way with the animation). Unfortunately, though, the dreaded pimple shine returns to Ikumi’s breasts this episode. It’s pretty standard in anime (for some reason) to draw exposed skin with a short of shimmer to it, usually just a sort of circular bright spot on the skin. In Food Wars!’ case, though, those shimmers just ends up looking like gross red pimples. It was a definite woe last season, and it looks like it’s going to return this season. It’s not as if this is a difficult thing to get right, so why the animation team continues to bizarrely color these spots red baffles me.
All in all, though, this is a strong episode. It’s certainly not an exciting one by any stretch of the imagination, but it provides the core foundation needed for the showdown between Soma and Kuga, one that I truly hope the anime allots proper time for. By the end of the episode, the power gap between the two is still daunting, so it’s going to be a little unbelievable if Soma pulls out a win the way things are now. Still, the festival is far from over, and Soma always shows that he’s got a trick up his sleeve in the end (usually one that significantly boosts his power level beyond all reason). Still, it’s good to have the show back and firing on all cylinders. Or should I say burners?