Honestly, it takes a lot to get me into anime lately, I find. When Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma was pitched to me I was skeptical until they hit on something they knew I REALLY love: Iron Chef. While this show is definitely not for young folks, adults will find it charming despite being crude. Here’s why.
As a note: this show won’t be everyone’s thing and that’s super okay! Some of the scenes are playfully sexy in a way that is mostly about how excited people get when they taste really wonderful food for the first time. That’s pretty much it and I’ve seen mostly all of the show’s current run. However, if that makes you uncomfortable — feel free to skip this.
The show centers around Sōma Yukihira who just wrapped up Middle School and has been helping in his Father’s restaurant with the hopes to become a full-time culinary visionary like his Pops. It’s quite obvious that his Dad used to be someone rather important to the cuisine world before leaving it behind to focus on a neighborhood eatery where he could cook what he wanted and with no restrictions. However, Sōma sees this and is inspired by his Dad and works pretty hard on the regular to get towards that goal. That is, until a development manager offers his Father a lot of money to sell the place so they can bulldoze it and place a luxury building in its place. Dad then makes some decisions on their future without consulting the rather hot-headed Sōma and decides that, while he figures out what he wants to do with the restaurant while taking a job overseas, he’s going to send Sōma to a culinary academy.
Now, this isn’t to say Sōma isn’t housing his own pretty intense and incredible skills, even if he’s not classically trained. The real humor comes in where the privileged ones who already attend Totsuki Teahouse Culinary Academy and how they respond to a self-taught and family-trained person like Sōma. With sequences of auditions where students have to prove their skills ala Iron Chef like battles between one another, the show really scratches that Kitchen Stadium itch. For someone like myself, who still watches the old dubbed-over episodes of Iron Chef and can hear the biting snap of bell pepper in her sub-conscious, this was perfect for me.
Alongside the silly moments and the heartfelt storyline comes the actual recipes that the chefs and students put together in the show. Not only do they include the names of legitimate foods and culinary techniques but also explain the science of why certain foods are good and how your favorite cooks put these meals together. If you can bounce around between the comedy and the crude humor long enough, you just may learn something! In fact, check out this rad video that REACT did that features Food Wars recipes and folks getting a chance to check out the food and try to NOT eat the delicious recreations!