Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma Volume 6
Just when I started feeling that reviews of Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma could become almost mechanical — what’s the special ingredient for the challenge? what’s the competition hook? what crazy dish does Soma come up with to win, or at least demonstrate his strength of character? — volume 6 comes along to shake things up.
The next big competition for the cooking school kids is the Fall Classic. Before summer break, those who have been selected to participate are announced, which gives them their whole vacation to prepare. The cast continues to expand with various contestants in these huge battles, but it’s the few I can keep up with that I continue to follow.
But first, there’s a more personal story, the one I was thinking of when I said this volume was a bit of a change-up. A former student, a member of the elite council and currently a traveling chef with rock-star hair, has returned to the dorms. Everyone’s impressed, and then he’s revealed to have a secret connection with one of the students. His globe-trotting means he has all kinds of techniques and ingredients from various countries to incorporate into his repertoire.
The visitor gives Soma new perspective on the quest he’s been placed on at the school and the history that brought him there. Of course, the two wind up quickly in a cook-off, competing to make a morning “dish to energize and invigorate the body!” for some of the other students. The food needs to be light, easy to eat, and healthy, and as always, it’s fascinating to see what the contestants come up with. Plus, their recipes are included.
Then comes the research for the upcoming showdown, including information on spices and how they’re prepared, with a particular emphasis on smell in cooking. The art is typical for manga. Lots of focus on expressions to put across the desired emotional mood, mixed with high-energy action to capture the struggle of competition. It’s the food information that keeps me reading, not the competent but unchallenging art.
Unlike with some of the other challenges, I liked the way the setup for this big competition — drawn out to emphasize its importance, since the effort barely gets started in this volume — shows the kids actually working hard and studying, instead of relying on their natural talents and home experiences. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)