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Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Episode #24 Anime Review (Season Finale)

It’s a bittersweet moment. It’s time to bid the best new series of the past couple of seasons farewell with no sure answer of whether we’ll ever see more, but that also means we’ve reached the most exciting climax of a series that been exponentially increasing the intensity of such moments all the way through its series. And I do mean climax in every sense of the word. It’s quite a monumental experience to be sure, and by this point we’re fortunate enough to be in a position that lets us confidently keep any thoughts of potential disappointment out of our minds. READ MORE...

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Episode #23 Anime Review

Are you ready for more judging of the major characters in the prelims of the Autumn Elections? Of course you are! Against all odds, Food Wars! is hitting it out of the park every time, and as we’re building to the more important entries, it’s only becoming more exciting. With Group A in particular we have a judge who won’t even give above a zero to anyone, and so we’re left with literally only the stars of the show while not a single other person in the group has gotten past a quarter of what they conceivably could. Natsume is presented as the ultimate ice queen who may prevent even the most promising competitors from getting the kind of scores seen in Group B. READ MORE...

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Episode #22 Anime Review

We’ve established a formula of going through the dish of each participant we have any reason to care about one by one to see what they came up with and how it measures up. That probably sounds incredibly boring in text, but it’s anything but; as if this wasn’t already a series that excels with making cooking the most exciting thing in the world, this competition atmosphere is particularly successful at providing both suspense and deep character exploration. Between factors of how many characters we do care about at this point compared with how much time the series has left and the risk of losing freshness with spending too much time covering the same territory, some will inevitably get significantly less focus than others, and naturally it makes more sense to get those out of the way earlier in an episode. Such is the case, and we speed through the first few at a pace that may be disappointing for some hoping to see more from certain characters. Hojo is probably the most notable example of this for a character newly introduced for this arc, but she also got more than most during the actual cooking portion, so it’s about as balanced as it needs to be. READ MORE...

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Episode #21 Anime Review

As the Autumn Elections roll on, we get to see not only the preparation phase but the first judging sessions that allow us to delve deeply into the intricacies each young chef has weaved into their respective dish. This is the finest gold of this series, and to start it off we have two girls with the greatest adoration for Erina, which manifest in very different ways. But first, we do check in on our main characters to get some indication of how they’re overcoming the situations they’ve found themselves in. The previous episode ended with a hilarious stinger implying that Soma was out for the count and may have to scramble at the end to pull something together, but in fact it was the exact opposite, and within the first few seconds of this episode, we see that this is very much still the effortlessly composed Soma we’ve always known. That kind of charisma influences someone like Megumi, who couldn’t be any more different naturally, to do her best and go for the biggest show she can muster regardless of the risk and her army of naysayers. READ MORE...

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Episode #20 Anime Review

As the number of episodes left in this series dwindles to unfortunate levels, the big arc we won’t be seeing completed anytime soon strikes in full force. Last time we got formally introduced to the Autumn Election and began the process, but it’s not until now that it officially begins, with the characters all starting their very publicized cooking efforts to be judged and their candidacy for further levels of the competition evaluated by the end of it. Much of the episode is more preparation and buildup to this eventual competition of a scale that makes even a big Shokugeki seem almost unremarkable, but that’s often some of the strongest content of the series. Through these moments we get to learn more about each of the characters we have any reason to care about, and they’re all so unique and dynamic that it’s always a fun time, and no matter how much it may seem that we know a character through and through, there’s sure to be a great deal more to learn about who each person is, with new aspects being brought out not only by the circumstances but by the particular type of food being worked with. We were introduced to several new characters last time, and now we get to see them fleshed out in some greater detail, confirming that each is a worthy addition to this excellent cast, in case there was ever any doubt. READ MORE...

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Episode #19 Anime Review

Food Wars! is firing on all cylinders these days, coming off its first fantastic arc to take a few episodes to settle down while still delivering continuous content not only of its top caliber but also related to the surprisingly intricate and thoughtful plot of the overall story. Now we’re heading right into the big school event that was teased since the end of the training camp to put even that to shame, the Autumn Elections. It’s not surprising that this would be the biggest thing to happen in the series yet, because for as great as the training camp ended up being, it was in the end a training camp, albeit one with cutthroat standards more extreme than a boot camp and especially compelling side-stories cleverly worked in here and there. This, though, is a full-on tournament gathering the finest in the school save those already deemed "elite" enough to be the overseers, and incorporating more alumni and top-tier students Soma has yet to meet. Skill with handling tournament arcs is something plenty of writers struggle with and the material often feels like a lazy way to progress the series without putting much thought into plotting, but from how Food Wars! has nailed competitions thus far, the always impressive creativity displayed whenever students are given certain limitations to work with and are tasked to outdo one another, and the general dynamics that arise from every new character combination in the series, this seems full of every bit of potential to be what tournament arcs often aspire to be but rarely come close to. READ MORE...

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Episode #18 Anime Review

Despite beginning as a side-story Soma found himself in while airing out the diner during summer break, this karaage battle has become something just as substantial as a real Shokugeki, lacking the theatrical presentation but playing on a larger scale and affecting a lot more people, people that matter to Soma and his love of his hometown. That enemy leader Kinu is getting help from Elite Ten member Etsuya even serves to connect it to the larger plot and ultimately the upcoming Autumn Elections that prove to be even more substantial and exciting than the training camp. READ MORE...

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Episode #17 Anime Review

School’s out for a brief vacation, so Soma takes the opportunity to visit home and tidy up the diner a bit. His life is now one surrounded by cooking challenges from all directions, though, so even this setup doesn’t allow for a moment’s rest before the next mission springs itself upon him. It’s a classic tale: the humble local folk just want to keep their businesses viable, but some big guns with more money and marketing savvy have trampled over their territory and snatched their customer base away. What can they do to avoid completely falling victim to the overwhelming force from outside and going under? Fortunately, the name of the game is cuisine, and a certain expert in the matter happens to be visiting, one who loves nothing more than helping those in need. Soma isn’t going to quite let this be a completely isolated excursion, and instead calls upon one of his best associates from school lacking in recent screen time, Nikumi. Hometown admirer Mayumi was always a phantom figure, plainer than Megumi and without the element that makes her so impressive and allows a deep connection with Soma, but when Nikumi shows up at the diner in her flashiest attire, Mayumi might as well just fade away. READ MORE...

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Episode #16 Anime Review

Since returning from the demanding training camp that lasted a decent chunk of episodes, a number of notable things have happened in the lives of our protagonists, most of them revolving around a character who we’ve hardly seen since the first episode: Soma’s father Joichiro, who we’re constantly learning more about in regard to his fame and involvement, almost as quickly as we’re being introduced to more mysteries surrounding him. Now that father and son have reunited after the younger Yukihira has learned a good number of lessons from the legendary Totsuki Academy, it’s only natural that the two would engage in a bout to determine exactly how these experiences have affected Soma’s cooking and philosophies. READ MORE...

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Episode #15 Anime Review

After a week off, Food Wars! is back in full swing, following up the training arc that comprised the first real arc of the series with some aftermath and transitional material, as well as the obligatory new opening and ending songs and sequences. Even just one week off was enough to make the week feel like it had a major area of emptiness, and as soon as this episode kicks off we’re reminded of why it’s become such a valuable entry in current anime. Considering how much it’s improved in just over half of its run, it should only be more exciting to see what heights it can reach by the end, hopefully only a temporary end as the manga is still going strong every week. READ MORE...