Anime Reporter rounds off the latest barrage of manga-centric reviews with Volume 04 (chapters 22-30) of Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma, VIZ Media’s cooking-based shonen wonder!
Well, as Volume 03 and 04 both became available together last Thursday, (4th June 2015), there’s every chance that you haven’t yet had the chance to sample them both, so feel free to take a look at my Volume 03 review here if you’re on the fence about picking it up or my Volume 01 verdict here if you’ve yet to encounter this series.
Odd fish-seed merman picture aside, you really should avoid reading further if you aren’t familiar with the first few volumes as there are some plot points that are important to this volume which you’ll be better off discovering for yourself.
Those otherwise unencumbered with a fear of spoilers can join me from here on: Last volume ended with a rather brilliant cliff-hanger and Soma demanding the right to challenge one of his assessors, an alumnus of Totsuki Academy, the revered master of French cuisine, Shinomiya Kojirou. Naturally, readers of Volume 03 won’t need to be reminded of precisely why Soma would take on such a high-risk challenge, but it’s an important moment to see Soma rise up in anger to protect his friend so it’s worth saying that he’s doing it in response to his friend Tadokoro’s rather unfair expulsion in the second round. Soma is beginning to emerge as something more akin to a hero in this series as opposed to just another talented student in a competitive school. It’s not just Tadokoro who’s at risk as Soma is forced to put his own Totsuki career on the line.
Soma (spoiler) gets his challenge, but it comes with a twist. He and Tadokoro will be working as a team to cook a dish against Shinomiya, the judges will also be former Totsuki alumni and… Tadokoro is in charge of what they cook. Soma is relegated to Sous-chef, meaning that the judges will watch closely to ensure that he only follows Todokoro’s lead. None of his own innovations will be allowed to save the day this time. The Shokugeki (cooking challenge) takes up a large chunk of this volume and the outcome won’t exactly make everyone happy.
Following this event, the remaining students in the exam will have to spend all night dreaming up a buffet style breakfast to feed the masses. They can sleep if they want to, but every minute not spent in the kitchen could spell their doom. Naturally, most students toil their night away and the volume comes to a close with things not looking too bright for one of our main characters.
While Volume 03 introduced the rival Aldini brothers, Volume 04 seems to up the antagonist-ante, offering up two new sinister, as of yet unnamed characters with a definite air of absolutely-no-good about them. The stakes rise ever higher in this volume and set the scene nicely for Volume 05. The series seems to have really found its feet now, with more of a focus on tensions and humour, apparently foregoing the prevalent ecchi fantasies which seemed a little mismatched with the series’ beginning chapters. It’s rewarding to see a series like this start to discover its style and it’s already a stronger story because of it. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s on the menu for Food Wars!’ future.
Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Volume 04 is currently available in English from VIZ Media and I highly suggest you give it a look-see.
Character Development: 8.5
75% – “Well-Done” – Food Wars! Volume 04 increases the drama and intensity of its storytelling, giving life to the cutthroat world of Totsuki and leaving its reliance on the ecchi well behind. All in all, this series is shaping up to be a strong example of the shonen genre and I’m looking forward to what its future holds.