“Totsuki is an otherworldly place, where those with talent throng together and devour one another. Its depths are unfathomable. Sharpen your fangs, boy!”
-EP 10

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma is an over-the-top battle-shounen in which the characters face head to head, with knives in hand, to determine the more masterly chef. This anime namely follows the life of Yukihira Soma and his proclamation that his cooking skills reign above all others. There’s no better place to measure this ability than at Totsuki High, a school tailored to the upbringing of the next generation of world-class chefs. Students with culinary prowess enroll here from all over the world to prove themselves, earn a reputation, and form a foundation for their future in cuisine. Students are free to challenge each other to so called Shokugekis, one on one cook-offs where anything and everything can be wagered. On top of these face-offs, the school hosts event after event to measure and grade the students’ abilities. However, if you fail to meet its expectations even once, you are expelled on the spot, and your career is ruined.

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Through trials and triumphs, we watch Soma serve as an inspiration to some and an enemy to others, but he collectively acts as a catalyst for the propagation of the love of food; Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma is one hell of a feast.

Do Stoves go to 11?

Food Wars will never miss the chance to mesmerise you, or at least never stop escalating its absurdity in an attempt to do so. You’ve likely seen anime that leave you remarking on how they just don’t stop; the exact same can be said here. When a meal is cooked, it’s done with flair. When a meal is presented, it’s done with tenacity. When a meal is tasted, clothes explode. That’s what you’re in for. Even something as simple as taking a bite of a dish is blown out out of proportion. Every course is animated to a visual pinnacle, frequently posing as indistinguishable from its real-life counterpart. Every character has the utmost emotion and sincerity in backing their cause. Why present a normal situation as normal when you can present it originally and with character? Food Wars operates under this tendency, and by doing so it scales the viewer’s enjoyment and continuously generates pure fun.

A Chef’s Work is a Fine Art

Food Wars has one hell of a nack for making you hungry. Before you question it, yes, this is a good thing. This makes it so the anime has one special quality that not many others can boast about. It’s a show that doesn’t just connect with you through its characters, story, or music, it also reaches out and grabs your stomach.

Food Wars wastes no time in making its culinary aspects as impressive as possible. There’s an indescribable amount of detail animated into the cooking sequences, whether it be the flailing knives, the crispness of the raw vegetables, or the simmering of a deep frying ingredient. Each final dish is made out to be visibly intricate, and the explanations they give for the meals regarding the ingredients, setup, origin, motive, and whatnot are so explicit that you can almost fully grasp the food with all of your senses. The presentations are coupled by angelic music that fills your ears, making you feel like a budding flower entering a life where people care about the prosperity of mankind while conserving mother nature, all for the overarching goal of enlarging the realm in which flavour lies. These spectacles alone are sure to immerse you in the beauty of this anime.

The Kitchen is a Battlefield

The fact that Totsuki is a place that ruins people on a daily basis adds quite a few different elements to Food Wars. The notion that you could be expelled at any time is, in a sense, like knowing that the characters that you know and love can be killed off at any moment, even if they’re not actually killed. It puts you on-edge at times where these people are struggling to survive. Despite that, it still manages to make you laugh when characters you’re fine to see go are meeting their demise. The Shokugekis, being battles in their own right, bring out the most forthright emotions from the cast. Whether your property or your enrollment is at stake, true intentions arise because lives can change by the outcome.

Spicy Similes and a Mouthful of Metaphors

These figures of speech have always been fun to mess around with as you can make some funny or obscure connections, but Food Wars almost redefines how they should be used.
Here are some actual examples from the show:

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“This steak was so good that it was as if I became a meteor and descended down on Earth.”
“This soup tasted as if I was peacefully bathing under a waterfall, when suddenly a jukebox came crashing down on me!”
“This medley unleashed a hidden side of me and my colleagues, evolving us into the Mighty Morphin Cabbage Rangers.”

For the most part, the subjects are quite nonsensically related, but the accompaniment of the outrageous visualisations that the anime adds are what make what’s being said believable. Before you know it, you’ll be saying, “Yeah, that’s right, I can totally see the connection between a steak and literally swimming in honey.” It’s the case in which if you stress a point hard enough, it starts to convey its meaning, whether it be right or wrong. The situations that are laid out may seem outlandish and far reaching, but they definitely add to the uniqueness of this show.

A Recipe that Calls for Music

Food Wars’ OST is ripe, measured at the right amount, and added at the perfect time. Let’s start off by going over some of its song titles:

The Meat Sonata
The Girl that came from the Region of Fish
By This Duck I Want to be Embraced

These titles may make you laugh, but each of these songs adds a different spice to the mix. They pinpoint the idea behind the whole show; they aim for comedy, but do so in a dignified manner. They aren’t trying to change the world with this music, they’re merely trying to characterize an anime, so naming these very memorable songs in such a way only adds to this comedic yet entrancing mission. What’s unique to this OST is that many of the numbers are based on music from all over the globe, which makes sense. Food is a global concept, so when you’re making a show about food, it’s a no-brainer to choose music based on your dish’s country of origin. Praise can be said over and over for the music, but you really just have to listen to it for yourself to believe it, so try it out with the link above.

It’s always a good treat when an anime’s OST stands out or really describes the show, but it’s even better when the directors aren’t afraid to try some cool stuff with it. The easiest example here is that they regularly start the ending theme during the final cuts of the episode. It might not sound like much, but you really don’t realize how much a theme’s presence can be amplified until it’s used at a unique time. It’s really the simple things like this that make a show stick with you better.

Cooking in the name of Do-it-Yourself

Almost all of the time, the most you can ever take from an anime is simply your viewing experience. If you’re a little more invested, you can cosplay, write about, or make a video of the show, but there is never really anything beyond that. With Food Wars, you can go that step further, and pretty easily at that. Not only can you do cosplay or write about the show, you can cook everything that you see. They go out of their way to provide detailed information about the ingredients and preparation of each dish. If that’s not enough, the manga gives out a recipe for one of the featured meals each volume, and you can find guides all over the web telling you how to create each memorable dish for yourself. This is simply another mechanism that makes Food Wars one of a kind and stand out compared to your conventional anime.

Fanservice; Same Old Ingredient, Different Approach

Fanservice is a touchy subject; some people will always be disgusted by it, while others are uninterested if a show lacks it, but Food Wars redefines fanservice, and fan or not, this feat deserves your recognition. Firstly, thank you to any anime that merely goes beyond having the male lead trip onto the female lead, this one included. Now, the display of sexual content in Food Wars falls into two categories; the as-per-the-norm fanservice (which will be addressed later), and the moments where the taste of food illustrates reactions of utter fantasy. Let’s focus on the later of the two for now.

Much of the fanservice in this show has an underlying purpose; you could say that it’s there to actually play a role, not to serve the viewer’s sexual gratification. These are the moments where people express their opinions of a dish with their imagination, and rightfully add in a touch of sensualism. Before you complain, it’s fair to relate amazing food to sexual pleasure. Though this may seem unnecessary, it signifies the seriously unbelievable taste of the food that the characters create. It provides a visualization to the saying, “this food is as good as sex itself.” In a show that renders amazing dish after amazing dish, it’s understandable that this kind of comparison happens. Imagine if you actually had the chance to experience food like this; these explicit interpretations might not seem too far fetched. If you were to actually eat the greatest meal of your life, comparing it to sex would not be out of the question. However, none of this justifies actually animating these reaction scenes. What does though is the fact that they don’t do it to exploit a character, but rather to convey their thoughts. This idea can be backed by the fact that the individuals featured in these reaction animations are equally male and female.

Soma is Best Described as Comfort Food

Soma is a figure of positivity and admiration. When you witness someone aspire for something and put forth as much effort as they can into achieving their goals, you can’t help but be mesmerised by their passion. Even though Soma outwardly appears to be foolish from time to time, his true nature is one that not only the viewers can look up to, but all of his fellow classmates can as well. He’s not as overpowered as he may appear, and he doesn’t hesitate to learn from past failures or follow the advice of someone more knowledgeable in a subject than him. He tends to appear to not care for much, or to be simply lackadaisical, but when the spotlight is on him cooking, you can see that he takes what he does very seriously and tries his utmost to accomplish the task at hand. He doesn’t brush off any opponent, even if that’s how he’d like to be seen. He recognizes other’s abilities, and knows how to enhance them if so needed. He ambitiously helps others fight through adversity. And finally, when all is seemingly lost, he puts on a sincere smile.

Too Many Characters on the Menu

The main cast, in its own right, is fairly strong and well composed, but when it comes to the extended cast, Food Wars loses points for continuously introducing new character after new character. Most of the time this happens in anime, the individuality of each additional character becomes diluted; they simply become the next person that you don’t care about. This is normally a hurdle for some people, and something that could easily ruin your viewing experience. However, in Food Wars’ case there are two points defending it in this regard: the fact that such a large cast is understandable, and the way that they go about building every newly introduced character. What you have to remember is that this is still a high school based anime, so it’s no surprise that there are limitless students and a fair number of teachers. Now, if you take a look at how every new character is introduced, you’ll see that it’s very much the same every time. The character is named, they state what reason they have for being at the school, they get a quick flashback to heighten their cause, they broaden their presence by verbally assuring their abilities, and they eventually put on a performance to prove these words. A setup like this gives you the illusion that every new character is important, but after taking a step back and looking at the sheer number of them, it’s easy to escape this illusion.

What do You Mean it’s Over? Where’s my Dessert?

For better or worse, you won’t see any sort of completed story this season. This kind of thing happens more often than not, but a single fallacy makes Food Wars’ ending stand out worse than many others. This is the fact that the show finishes in the middle of a story arc; it stops in the middle of a damn tournament. It’s okay to do this kind of thing if it’s certain that another season will air, but until an announcement is made, viewers will be left yearning for a continuation for months, or maybe even years.

Always in My Heart, Squid Tentacles Dressed in Peanut Butter

Although, as mentioned before, much of the fan service in the show may be “art,” that whole idea is sullied by the fact that regular fan service still remains. To put it blatantly, there are multiple instances where some female characters eat bad tasting tentacles… and yes, the anime does not fail to personify this dish with an accompanying striking visual. In addition to the sheer repulsiveness of the aforementioned, most female character designs are oversexualized as they wear tight clothing (if they even bother to put that much on them), and there’s also a clear existence of “jello physics”, as seen in the gif above.

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma is a spectacle that pushes the limits of animation; if it were to receive anything less than a Go For It, many people would be upset. Whether you’re looking for a show to fill your appetite, or perhaps searching for one that meets high expectations, Food Wars is the exact meal you’re looking for. Hell, even if your stomach is full, or you simply don’t want to be bothered by food puns, Food Wars will still blow you away. Imagine it this way, if you’re not terribly hungry, then there’s no real reason to eat, right? Wrong. If the food in front of you is a masterpiece, then it doesn’t matter if you’ve just eaten, you’ll inevitably enjoy it. “What’s a masterpiece,” you may ask, well it all depends on whether or not your clothes explode.


You’re reading Ani-TAY, the anime-focused portion of Kotaku’s community-run blog, Talk Amongst Yourselves. Ani-TAY is a non-professional blog whose writers love everything anime related. Click here to check us out.

You can contact me (Stanlick) by emailing me at stanlick_anitay@outlook.com.

Special thanks to Protonstorm for editing. Without him, no-one’s clothes would ever explode.


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