Soma Yukihara always dreamed of being a chef and running the family restaurant but when his father leaves to travel the world he is enrolled into Totsuki Culinary Academy, a cutthroat school for chefs in training. Here, Soma must endure challenges designed to weed out those not capable of becoming world-class chefs, as well as cooking duels between students called Shokugeki. With competition this intense, will Soma be able to hold his own and make it to graduation?

Having saved his hometown’s main street with his fried chicken, Soma returns to Totsuki for the fall semester and is faced with his greatest challenge yet: Totsuki’s prestigious Fall Classic. Along with 60 of his classmates, Soma is chosen to enter into this fierce cooking tournament and begins to prepare furiously. However, Polaris Dorm receives a surprise visitor on the eve of the classic who attempts to push Soma’s abilities even further.

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Taking up roughly half the volume, Soma’s dad’s visit to Polaris dorm was fantastic for a number of reasons and really drove the narrative. He served to provide Soma with a worthy opponent, something that I thought greatly benefitted the story since the series thus far has presented Soma as somewhat unbeatable. I also enjoyed how much this interlude added in terms of exploring the history of Polaris Academy, as well as Soma’s father. While he is still presented as a somewhat enigmatic figure, the story slowly continues to reveal more about his past as Soma progresses through his time at Totsuki. Furthermore, the interactions between Soma and his dad were some of the best parts of the volume as the reactions of other characters watching their strange but hilarious banter was gratifying to see.

In addition, the shokugeki against Soma’s dad helped to reveal a little bit more about what makes Soma tick. This shook things up interestingly, especially considering how previous volumes followed a pretty clearly defined pattern of Soma being faced with a tough opponent before coming from behind to shock them, and thus previously had not given us an extended look at his character. While the explanation that this volume provided was not a complex one by any means, I really enjoyed that some progress was made here and it really helped make Soma more endearing for me. As a whole, I found this mini-arc to be one of the strongest the series has provided recently and was a big part in why I enjoyed this volume so much. The subsequent storyline about trying to find the perfect recipe as well as the beginning of the Fall Classic were fairly average and essentially just the standard fare much like the stories from previous volumes, but I’m sure that I will remember Soma’s dad’s visit to Polaris for a while to come.

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If you’ve been reading Food Wars! you know by this point how fantastic Shun Saeki’s artwork is, and this volume is no exception. Character designs are pleasingly stylized and clean while remaining memorable, and page layouts always feel comfortable. I really love the way that Saeki manages to infuse a wonderful sense of motion into his art, and this continued to be especially apparent during the shokugeki scenes at the beginning of the Fall Classic. Food Wars! clearly shows no signs of slowing down artistically and this continues to be one of this series’ main draws.

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While Food Wars! has definitely dialed down its fanservice to a reasonable degree compared to its first volume, this volume still has a few instances which went further than I would have liked. The most notable is another scene showing a character being grabbed by eels with a panty-shot included. If you’ve stuck with Food Wars up until now this is definitely not the type of thing which is going to ruin the volume, but I wish the Saeki had shown a little more restraint here. There is also another scene where Nikumi is drawn in a more egregiously sexual way than usual (which is saying a lot considering how she is dressed usually), and I felt that this went beyond the norm this series has established for itself.

Food Wars! Vol. 6 is another excellent volume in a series that continues to deliver fun and action packed moments combined with consistently impressive art. While I found some of the fanservice included in this volume to be a little bit much, I still found this to be a strong entry in the series because of the extremely entertaining shokugeki between Soma and this dad which provided both hilarious moments as well as a better look at what drives Soma as a character. Fans of this series won’t be disappointed, and newcomers won’t find a better time to jump in, as the Fall Classic is sure to be an exciting upcoming storyline.

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What do our scores mean?

Food Wars!: Shokugeki No Soma was published by Viz Media on June 2nd, 2015. Authored by Yuto Tsukudo and drawn by Shun Saeki, the series adaption began in 2012 and is still ongoing in Shueisha’s ’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. Volume 7 will be published in English on August 9th, 2015, and an anime adaption produced by J.C. Staff is currently airing.

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*Copy provided for Taykobon by publisher
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