Shokugeki no Souma First Impressions
Oh I’ve been waiting for this one. Shokugeki no Souma is one of my favorite manga being written right now; both for its crazy comedy bits and its blatantly ridiculous food porn moments. So far at least, the anime adaptation not only keeps all of its ridiculous tendencies, it actually enhances them. Let the feast for the eyes begin!
The plot of this first episode is fairly simple. Yukihira Souma is a 9th grader who works in his family’s restaurant as a chef alongside his father. Both of them are mischievous and rather crass individuals, but as good of a cook as Souma is, he’s not as good as his father. He hopes to keep studying in the shop until he surpasses his father, and he gets a chance to test his skills when a land developer challenges him to make her a meat dish after secretly ruining his food supplies. If he fails, he has to promise to sell the store, and if he wins, she will leave the store alone. He succeeds through a combination of luck and MacGyver levels of ingenuity, and creates a dish so incredibly sumptuous that it appears to have orgasmic qualities for men and women alike. Having saved the store, Souma’s dad then says he’s closing the shop and heading overseas. While he’s away, his dad tells Souma that if he really thinks he can be a chef, he should try to survive studying at the Engetsu Tea Ceremony Culinary Institute, the top culinary school in Japan with only a 10% graduation rate. Thus, Souma’s real tests begin.
This is without a doubt one of the strangest shounen battle manga ever made, and believe you me, it is a shounen battle manga. The term shokugeki refers to a cooking battle, and every time any of the chefs make a dish, they explain in minute detail all of the preparations, and ingredients that go into each dish. Also, much like all other shounen battle manga, it is highly ridiculous, and this is where a lot of the comedy comes in. I realize that most people really enjoy food, but seeing all of these people have sexually charged reactions to tasty dishes continues to be one of the more hilarious aspects of the series, particularly in the visualizations. I realize some people may find it creepy, but seeing a girl have a squid tentacle grope her while covered in peanut butter to show how disgusting peanut butter and squid legs would taste is pretty hilarious.
The rest of the comedy comes from the characters themselves. Souma is one of the best shounen protagonists in recent memory because while he has several qualities that make him seem rather asinine, such as his prankster mindset and his desire to use his friends as guinea pigs in his food experiments, he himself is not an unlikable person. He has plenty of personal drive to be good at his job, and he takes pride in his shop and his abilities as a cook, but he also is quite humble ultimately and will freely admit when others are better than him. At the same time, his straightforward, unpresumptuous attitude makes him the perfect counterbalance to all of the stuck up food snobs that make up the majority of the culinary school. Plus, as twisted as Souma’s personality seems sometimes, based on the way his father acts, you can kind of understand it. There are plenty of other characters in the show that I look forward to seeing, and my only concern is that this first episode is too reflective of the pacing the show plans to maintain which means we won’t get through too much before it has to stop.
The rest of this show comes down to its visuals, and this show really doesn’t disappoint in that department. The visuals are gorgeous, and there are only trace hints of background CG. The amount of detail this show pours into its character designs and the absurd visuals of the food porn scenes is quite frankly awe-inspiring. I don’t if this show will have the budget to maintain this level of visual splendor throughout the series run, but I sincerely hope so.
Shokugeki no Souma is one of the standouts of this season. Despite some potential issues with pacing, I can honestly say that I have no real problems with this adaptation based on this first episode. Its comedy is great. I love the characters. The visuals are splendid. The sheer ridiculousness of this one is addictive and I can’t wait to watch more.
Shokugeki no Souma is an insane, goofy, and ridiculous anime about how awesome food can be. The characters are fun, the cooking is preposterously bombastic, and there's a healthy amount of visual and dialogue humor. As long as it picks up the pace a bit, this should be one of the best shows this season.