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Food Wars! Shougeki no Sama Vol. 1 Manga Review

Food Wars!  Shougeki no Sama is a new manga under the license of Viz Media.  This manga happens to be about a young man who is aspiring to be a chef good enough to surpass his dad.  Once their restaurant closes for a few years with his dad opting to cook and travel, he enters his son into a prestigious culinary school were less than 10% of any particular class actually graduates.  Will he be able to come out on top despite his common background amongst the cooking elite?
Go ahead and hit the jump to read my in-depth manga review and see if Food Wars! Shougeki no Sama Vol. 1 Is a full course meal ready to be served or still undercooked!

  Story and Plot Impressions  
The plot of Food Wars! Shougeki no Sama is actually very simplistic.  You have a boy (Soma Yukihira, 15-years-old) who has been cooking ever since he can remember with dreams of becoming better than his father (Joshiro Yukihira, 38-years-old).  Though, when Joshiro closes down the family restaurant to travel abroad and cook for his friends, Soma is heart broken and does not know what to do (Especially since he said that the place would never shut down!).  His father tells Soma to enter a prestigious cooking school where less than 10% of all applicants pass, The Tozuki Saryo Culinary Institute.  Whether-or-not he can pass the school seems to be the sole purpose behind this manga.   
From the way the manga is presented, Soma probably got his cooking aspiration from his father, who is also a chef.  It is obvious that everyone in the manga has a big affinity for cooking, or at least the two main characters (Which I believe are Soma and Erina) pride themselves above everyone else when it comes to food.  However, it is pretty much guaranteed that they will face instructors who force everyone at the culinary school to be creative (Something that Soma apparently has due to his food experimentation), and that there will be other students that practice different techniques and specialize in different cuisines.  I believe his passion for cooking will take Soma far and his irregular techniques and abstract food knowledge will ultimately show his skill as a up-and-coming chef and gourmand, but that he will be tested and forced to learn new things as more challenge appear before him.
Also, I see a budding rivalry and romance between Soma Yukihira and female-lead Erina Nakiri which could add to drama and conflict down the line, especially since it is hinted earlier by a comment Joshiro makes and by what Soma says to Erina during his test to be (hopefully) accepted into the Tozuki Saryo Culinary Institute.  It already seems that this will be a main plot device, as Erina is of higher stature and seems embarrassed to say she was perplexed and delightfully enticed by Soma’s cooking upon their first meeting due to him being “common”.  From Erina’s and Soma’s first meeting and the way that they both seem confident in their abilities, I would not be surprised if the finale of the series is both Erina and Soma fighting for the spot of 1st and 2nd place amongst the small handful of graduates from their particular class…but since that is 4 years down the line (In the manga) it is too early to actually tell.
I am impressed that I did not see any flaws within the plot, but probably because it is just starting off and we only have the most basic of details before us.  However, it did start itself off very well without leaving many questions (Though, one does wonder where Soma’s mother is since she is shown but no history is given), but rather it has you anxious for what will happen next.  It is honestly intriguing that a story talking about the art of cooking could be done in such a fitting fashion which displays the hard work, passion, and the amount of knowledge it takes to actually cook a good dish (And the whole time, not be boring!).  Nothing more  to say than this manga started off extremely well.
  Character Impressions and Development  
Everyone within Food Wars! Shougeki no Sama seems to have a very vibrant, colorful personality.  In fact, one could argue that they seem too animated, but that is also part of the charm that makes them all so wonderful.  Having people with clear, decisive roles makes for comical relief when they act in a way that the reader does not anticipate.  Sure, something of this nature is not really good for manga like Gangsta where you need to have characters with multi-tiered personalities to get the seriousness and human-like emotion across, but in a comedic manga regarding cooking it works perfectly fine.  At the moment there does not seem to be any truly malicious characters (Since the only true antagonists were defeated in a very humorous way), but that could change sometime down the road.
The only true downside to the “straight-forward” characters that we have is that they seem to fit into classic roles normally seen in other anime.  Soma’s “Carefree, hardworking, I am going to be the best” attitude is reminiscent of characters like Eijun Sawamura from Diamond no Ace, Itsuki Minami from Air Gear, or Naruto Uzumaki from Naruto.  While it does fit perfectly with the manga presented, it is an archetype that we have seen many times already.  Even the character Erina Nakiri is a common character-type we have seen; someone who is snobby because they have a rich or prestigious background but whom ultimately respects the main character but refuses to acknowledge that (But will probably acknowledge them face-to-face at some point later in the series).  This is reminiscent of characters like Ichirou Miyata in Hajime no Ippo, Vegeta in Dragon Ball Z, and Seto Kaiba in Yu-Gi-Oh!.
As far as character development goes, there was not really much of any (Which is about the only let down I have seen) because it was the first volume and I assume they needed time to establish who-and-what character’s positions and dispositions are.  However, we do get to see other sides of characters, the main one being Erina Nakiri.  Erina thought that she knew more and was better than everyone else because of her “Divine Tongue” and her upbringing, however she was bested by Soma’s cooking and was so prideful, despite loving it, she denied him.  Even if she never did repent, she at least showed signs of guilt and respect for what she had endured, which shows vulnerability in her personality, but also makes her out to rather close-minded.  Though, Soma wanting to serve people he meets random food combinations that he believes “Are so bad, it’s funny” shows just how twisted he can be.
I liked the characters that I saw and while they easily fit into molds that we have seen from plenty of other characters already, that is not really a bad thing as it works with what they are given but staying in that mold could be dangerous.  I am interested to see how characters relationships form with each other based on what is expected of them, not to mention how their growth will effect their emotions even more.

  Other Mentions  

While there are a few other things that I wanted to point out, they just did not fit into any of the above sections.  The things I wanted to talk bout were mainly how I really enjoyed the art, how the story has a subtle ecchi aspect that is more comedic than actually sexual, and the fact you can actually learn about cooking through this manga.

The art in itself is very good and I love the use of psuedo-realistic style when it comes to the food, but I love how women look inside of this manga above all else.  Many manga draw guys who are cool looking and the epitome of manliness, but often times do we fail to see pretty women who are not sexualized, and seem empowered without being overly masculine, well, this manga does it.  The girls look soft, feminine, yet are able to be drawn in a way that makes them appear just as strong as the male characters within their own right.  I credit this to the facial expressions given to them while also having a broader shoulder length than some of the other women in manga I have read.

The other thing I wanted to talk about are the soft undertones of comedic ecchi content.  How the manga-ka decided to express certain tastes is drawn and described in a way that would make the reader find it rather “Suggestive”, nearly intrusive.  The first example of the book is when Soma has a friend try one of his creations only to say that it felt so twisted, it was like someone had molested her from head to toe (with a picture image which suggested tentacle rape) .  You even have a case where Erina tries Soma’s “Morphing Furikake Rice” and is imagining herself being pulled naked by a hoard of chibi angels who look strangely similar to Soma, all while saying “I-I don’t want to accept it…but my can’t help but react!“.  The way it is described is sexually suggestive, but it is done for the comedic effect more than anything else which makes it understandable, acceptable, and utterly hilarious (Especially for me since perverted comedy is one of my favorite manga genres).

I am not much of a cook, but I do love new information and already this manga has a lot to offer.  Most anime and manga explain things vividly in order to make sure the reader understands exactly what is going on, while sometimes things are exaggerated for effect, a lot of the knowledge given exists here in the real world.  Explaining things like using honey to tenderize meat or the properties behind “Morphing Furikake Rice” is surely beneficial to someone who is not experienced in the kitchen.  Also, I like the fact the manga-ka took it upon themselves to give an actual food recipe within the manga to get better interaction with the reader, brilliant!

  The Verdict  

  STRENGTHS   – Excellent artwork, Appealing characters, Well-delivered comedy, Good plot advancement, good explanation of food properties.
  WEAKNESSES   – No explanation for Soma’s mother’s whereabouts, Typical character archetypes. 
This seems like a great start to an interesting series.  I have always loved specialty series because you often learn a lot from them by the end, but I have never seen one revolving around cooking done so well (Though it is still within its early stages).  Characters, while typical and predictable, are fun and appealing because of the environment given to them and the type of story that Food Wars! Shougeki no Sama is.  The plot and the type of school Soma’s attending is sure to make for some heartbreak for future characters, and the rivalry that is brewing between him and Erina is sure to be spectacle that I am looking forward to.  Do yourself a favor and pick up this manga, it is good to the last bite and will be sure to full your otaku appetite!  Thanks for reading!

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About The Author

RoK the Reaper
A serious gamer & hardcore otaku who loves anything gaming, anime, or manga! I hope to bring you the best content for these subjects I love in the form of news, reviews, interviews, and in-depth editorials! さよなら!

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