Yukihira Soma and his father run a small diner in their neighborhood. He dreams of surpassing his father’s skills as a chef and continuing on the diner. Just as Soma graduates from middle school, his father shuts down the diner to travel abroad and sends Soma to a culinary school to hone his skills.
Soma thinks little of having to attend a school to learn to cook, but little does he know that the school his father sent him to is renown for its cutthroat and ruthless education system where less than 10 percent of its student body will graduate: Totsuki Culinary Academy, where disputes are settled by Shokugeki or Food Wars! Success here means success for life. Failure, on the other hand, is a death mark to his culinary career. His goal is the number 1 seat on the prestigious Elite Ten, a council of the top 10 students in the school. Will he fail to measure up to the task, or will he rise to the top of this culinary school from hell?
I absolutely LOVED this story. From the get-go, Soma has experience and talent. Enough so that when people trash his pantry in an attempt to close down his diner for good, he makes a meal so good, their clothes metaphorically explode off of their bodies. He couldn’t possibly get any better, right? He’s already over powered and has reached the top, right? Right?!
This story is expertly written. They took a concept that should be predictable and boring and made it anything but. A school where failure means expulsion could only lead to predictability as Soma has to continuously win. Yet, that really isn’t the case. Sure, perhaps some of the tension is lost due to the fact that he can’t really “lose”, but a phenomenal job is done in ratcheting up the creativity and excitement to help compensate for that. You know what else, though? He actually can lose, and does.
Food Wars! does so many things well like explaining how the food is made and building up the world, but the best thing about this show in regards to the story and writing, is the amount of character growth that not only Soma has, but also the growth that a large part of the rest of the cast goes through as well. They do a great job of taking things that happen early in the show and having them have meaning and impact later on.
The comedy of this show is on point! The reactions to the food are ridiculous and over the top and awesome. Erina’s descriptions of how certain foods taste are bizarre and I couldn’t help but laugh. The way Isshiki dresses and the fact that no one mentions it is great. Takumi’s constant attempts to challenge Soma that result in failure are great. The expressions that his show has for the characters are top notch! So much of the humor of this show clicked with me and I absolutely loved it!
The food in this show is great. The atmosphere of Totsuki is great. The comedy in this show is great. But the best part of this show are the characters. As is typical of the Shounen genre, there is a large cast of characters, but none of them feel superfluous. They all have a part to play, and they play it well.
My absolute favorite character in this show is, hands down, Megumi. Our beautiful, blue-haired country girl. No other character can even come close to touching the amount of growth that she had from her introduction to where the show left off. She’s humble, soft-spoken, determined, talented, and strong. I just love everything about her character. Seeing her fail and seeing her succeed, all of her emotional moments resonated with me, and I’ll admit to tearing up a little at points.
Soma is a great character as well. He’s brash and confident, but recognizes that there is still much for him to learn. I love his philosophy that while a failure is disappointing and frustrating, there is something to be learned from it that can be used for success in the future. He’s gunning for the top spot in the academy and he needs to draw on every experience to help himself try to reach that goal. His most admirable quality, in my opinion, is his loyalty and his fierce desire to support and protect his friends. I see this most with his interactions with Megumi, as she often finds herself in unenviable positions.
Erina Nakiri is known as “The God Tongue” due to her perfect palette. This has earned her much fame and success as well as the tenth seat on the Elite Ten, which is unheard of for a first year in high school. She is haughty and has a condescending attitude that has built up because of her talent. She is what we like to call a tsundere. She often says the opposite of what she wants to, especially when it comes to Soma due to his sarcastic and slightly arrogant nature; for example, calling his food disgusting because of how he rubbed her the wrong way. I feel like the surface has been barely scratched with her. As the series went on, we got to see more and more of her cute and childish side, but we haven’t been shown much of anything from her past. This is something that I hope to see more of in the future.
The last character I want to highlight is Hayama Akira, the king of spice. He doesn’t make an appearance till the later half of the series, but he provides for Soma what he was truly lacking for the first half of the series: a rival. Hayama was rescued from being a street urchin by a professor at Totsuki named Jun, who specializes in spices. Hayama helps her from being scammed by a spice merchant because he has a special nose that can distinguish spices and their quality. He introduces Soma to a world of flavors and scents that was previously unknown to him. The rivalry between the two kindled a fire under Soma, helping him make great strides in his ability to use spice and expand his culinary world even farther. They feed off each other in a fun way.
Other great characters include the Aldini brothers, the Polar Star Dormitory residents, Soma’s father Joichiro, Mito Ikumi, and many others.
The animation of this show was fantastic, It was colorful and vibrant and flowed smoothly. There were lots of assets to animate in this show, some moving more than others, but all of it is appreciated! The art direction was equally as good. The food looked incredible, so much so that I have recreated quite a few of the recipes from this show.
The character designs are great. It’s probably no surprise that I love Megumi’s design, but some of my other favorites were Yuki (an orange haired Polar Star Dormitory resident) with her fun, quirky habit of sticking out her tongue, and Soma, whose hair I liked, as well as all of his various expressions.
My only complaint about this show are the reactions to the food. I love the over-the-topness of them and they really are superbly animated and look great. There are just so many of them that in certain episodes it can be fatiguing to watch and after a while, they all start to look the same. Simply using dialogue to convey the epicness of the food they are eating would be enough. It really is a minor complaint though.
The music of this show is great! All of the riffs are memorable, and one would think that due to how much they are used you would get tired of them, but that wasn’t the case for me! Megumi’s flashback music was really calming and enjoyable with it’s country feel, and the battle music is epic!
This show also has an extremely catchy first ED called “Spice” by Tokyo Karankoron. Definitely worth a listen!
I love this show. I really, really do. I love food and I love to cook, so this show really resonated with me. The characters are deep and diverse and drive a fun and interesting story. The idea of a shokugeki is great. It reminds me of watching shows like Iron Chef as a kid on Food Network. The animation and art direction are top notch, with the only flaw being overuse of the reactionary animation.
Some people aren’t big on the ecchi (sexy) aspects of the show, but I had zero problems with it. My parents watched this show and loved it. I feel pretty confident that most other people will too.
I hesitate to hype shows too much, because it often leads to disappointment for others, but I think this show deserves every bit of praise it gets. It’s one of the best shows of 2015 in my opinion and you should absolutely go watch it if you haven’t already. I will eagerly be awaiting the dub for this show and hopefully an awesome Blu-Ray box set from Sentai Filmworks!
TL;DR: Food Wars is an over the top shounen style anime that has a fantastic cast of characters, interesting story and beautiful art! If you are a lover of food, or well fleshed-out characters, absolutely give this one a watch!
Recommended Audiences: Food Wars has a fair amount of suggestive/ecchi moments. If your child wants to watch Food Wars, watch the first episode to see if you are willing to let them watch this anime, as you get a clear picture of the kinds of things this anime displays.
Food Wars Season 1 sizzles and serves its way to a 5/5 HP
Episodes – 24
Aired – April 2015
Director – Yoshitomo Yonetani
Studio – J.C. Staff
Genre – Shounen, Comedy, Food
Streaming – Crunchyroll