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Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara – 14 »« Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara – 08, 09

Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara – 13

OP2 Sequence

OP2: 「シンボル」 (Symbol) by Luck Life

「進級試験」 (Shinkyuu Shiken)
“Advancement Exam”

Welcome back to the wonderful world of Totsuki Academy! As Cherrie is continuing her hiatus this season, I, Stilts, will be your guide for the second cour of this season. I don’t know much about cooking (I wing it like Souma, but without his crazy experience or skill), but what I do know is drama, and since Shokugeki no Souma is a stunning example of great dramatic (shounen-style) storytelling with stellar characters and plenty of funny bits, I’m stoked to talk about it.

This episode accomplishes two things, and it does them well. First, it’s a bit of a refresher for what happened at the tail end of the previous cour. If this episode had immediately followed episode twelve, it wouldn’t have been necessary, but it didn’t, so it makes sense why they took some time to remind us of the high points. I’m not sure it was as necessary here as it would have been in other places, given how seismic the Souma/Saiba revelation was to Erina, Azami, and the story, but neither do I think it was a waste. That’s because the reminders didn’t get in the way of the episode’s other goal, and may have padded it out so that we could focus on the one big thing and end in the right place.

The second thing this episode did was show Erina finding her resolve. The tug of war between Saiba’s and Azami’s competing visions of food—even if Souma’s father has no idea he’s party to any of this—is the internal struggle that has roiled Erina for years, as it embodies whether she’s going to cook for herself (Saiba-style) or for her family and the betterment of food culture (Azami-style). And here’s the glorious thing: Azami isn’t totally wrong. To tangent slightly, take his education philosophy as espoused by Central. In a way, I actually agree with him. The traditional dog-eat-dog, succeed-or-be-expelled style of Totsuki Academy makes for GREAT manga/anime, but it’s not necessarily a good education philosophy. At such a high-powered institution it’s inevitable that some would flunk out, but Totsuki has always gone way super far with it. That makes a Totsuki degree extremely valuable (scarcity and all that), but it’s still discarding a lot of potentially good chefs in the process. The fact that the antagonists have a point is really good, because it makes the antagonists more believable since they’re not fighting for something cartoonishly evil. It’s just that Azami goes too far with his make-everything-gourmet-or-else-it’s-trash ideas. This is what Black Panther did with Killmonger. It’s not that he was entirely wrong, it’s that he went too far. Same idea.

So it’s not that Azami doesn’t have a point. Erina has tasted, firsthand, a lot of inferior food. That’s what makes this a good internal struggle. She could have very well chosen to pursue a more Azami-style philosophy of food and, as long as she got rid of some of his more dickish ideas, it would have been both character growth and resolve. She would have been seeking to redeem her vile father’s philosophy and do it right. She was in a state of real flux, which is why she talked to Souma. Fortunately, Souma knows exactly what to say in this kind of situation.

He talks with his cooking.

I love the parallels both to the entrance exam and one of Saiba’s dishes. It was also so like him to use a cheap ingredient to show that her worldview is limiting, which gives the message even more punch. It also has plenty of that good ol’ Shokugeki-style innovate cooking and foodgasms, which is what we come here for, right? It’s a battle anime with food. What’s not to like!

But most of all, all of this allowed Erina to make her decision, and it all comes down on one side: that of creativity (freedom), and of fun. Totsuki Academy perhaps goes too far—maybe they should have a lower tier academy with a less prestigious degree where those who can’t survive Totsuki can graduate from, so at least they can continue learning instead of being discarded—but it’s undeniable that, though it’s harsh, the old Totsuki system was fair. That’s why the Polar Star characters were reminiscing about the training camp from hell and the other events. Those were difficult, but they knew they could survive with the power of their cooking. It’s far different than being targeted for execution, as they are now. Erina has decided that the freedom and fun as embodies by the inhabitants of Polar Star Dormitory is worth protecting, and encouraging that kind of cooking—and doing it herself—is what she wants to do. Her resolve is set, as the final scene shows. Best part: Souma doesn’t get his answer as to whether his dish is delicious. That would have been too easy, Souma-kun. Better luck next time!

Next week it sounds like we get to find out why there are so many trains in the OP and ED. I can’t wait to find out. Speaking of, manga readers: please remember to label and tag any spoilers, because as a wise young chef once said:

“If you know exactly where you’re headed, it’s no fun at all.”

See you next week!

Random thoughts:

  • Wait, did Souma always have a kitchen in his room?
  • My theory: Megumi only falls victim to Souma’s grotesque dishes so often because Souma likes to tease the girl he likes. MEGUMI X SOUMA 5EVER!!

My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for updates. At stephenwgee.com, the latest post: Book 3 Progress Report.

 

ED2 Sequence

ED2: 「アトリア」 (Atoria) by Fo’xTails.

End Card

April 8, 2018 at 4:56 pm
15 comments »
  • April 8, 2018 at 5:28 pmchicken

  • April 8, 2018 at 6:24 pmzztop

    I’ve heard criticism from manga readers that the Central Arc’s been going on for too long, that the Azami drama’s been too forced and ridiculous for the sake of ratings. What is Randomc’s opinion on this?

    (PS. The Central arc appears to be coming to a close as of the latest chapters.)

    • April 8, 2018 at 6:54 pmOne Pinch Man

      It’s getting better and as over the top as always IMO.

    • April 8, 2018 at 7:34 pmAcerbus

      IMO, it’ll be hard to fully judge until the Central arc finally ends. However, some later fights definitely feel drawn out, so maybe the anime will improve it by cutting through the fat, similar to how S1 handled the first part of the Fall Election arc.

      Show Spoiler ▼

    • April 8, 2018 at 11:05 pmYojimbo

      I don’t agree with that statement. The manga has been moving at a pretty brisk pace and most of the cooking battles are done in just a few chapters.

      If anything, I’m worried about what happens after the current arc, since there’s been no real hint of what’s next.

      • April 8, 2018 at 11:38 pm7godeohs

        I agree with your concerns about the current arc in the manga. It seems like it’s either ending in the not too distant future (hopefully not) or they are going to have a whole other drawn out war to fight. There’s still a lot of development to be had, so I can’t imagine they would end it so soon, but it’s not readily apparent where it might go from here.

        (btw, I know there are circumstances behind it, but I really wish Risa Tenada was the VA of Erina this season. She came back after some time off, so I was hoping she would be able to voice Erina for this latest cour. The current VA is doing a great job, don’t get me wrong, but I still miss Erina’s original VA.)

    • April 9, 2018 at 4:09 amZaiden

      Not that I represent RandomC’s opinion, but as an avid reader of Weekly Shounen Jump, I’ll weigh in on my thoughts.

      When the same arc has gone on for close to 3 years out of 5 years in a manga’s lifespan, then yes, I feel inclined to say that the arc has dragged on for far too long. Of course, the series is as fun as always. But, I’ve somewhat lost my enjoyment for the series in these past 2-3 years, because in my opinion, it’s gotten repetitive. The extensively staged conflict doesn’t play to the mangaka’s forte. Azami entered in such a glorious fashion, yet the momentum of his brilliant villainy petered out, because the idea of Central is ultimately a shallow construct.

      The series was much better as a sequence of skirmishes, when culinary skills were truly put to the test, as pure unadulterated hype/tension and ingenuous usage of limited resources, without the subcontext of nefarious scheming from upper institutions. Fortunately, the anime adaptation has always been good at condensing the source material, so I expect the anime to improve upon a couple of shortcomings I’ve mentioned.

      • April 9, 2018 at 11:26 amLyfe

        You’re absolutely right Zaiden. I really wouldn’t be shocked if some news of a final arc was made known after this one. Usually I think with those Shounen titles if an arc is dragging for this long the author is perhaps preparing for the end.

  • April 8, 2018 at 6:52 pmOne Pinch Man

    http://randomc.net/image/Shokugeki%20no%20Souma/Shokugeki%20no%20Souma%20San%20no%20Sara%20-%20OP2%20-%20Large%2001.jpg
    Hype trains!

    http://randomc.net/image/Shokugeki%20no%20Souma/Shokugeki%20no%20Souma%20San%20no%20Sara%20-%2013%20-%20Large%2020.jpg
    I’ve been motivated cooking various dishes with various ingredients since I watched this anime.
    Lately, I’ve been motivated going to the gym as well because I gained almost 8 kg eating my own experiments.

    • April 8, 2018 at 11:16 pmYojimbo

      Need to try that tempura egg for sure…

      • April 9, 2018 at 8:24 amAngelus

        Don’t risk it unless you live somewhere you can either be sure the eggs aren’t contaminated with salmonella (like Japan, for instance) or get pasteurized whole eggs.

  • April 8, 2018 at 8:35 pmstarss

    Well now I know there’s a REASON why it felt so weird the last season ended so abruptly last Fall. … its because it WASN’T FINISHED. The third season is actually split by 3 months off the air. You can tell they didn’t intend for this episode to be a huge milestone. There are no bumps in animation quality, and the story seems to shift right into the ep in the first minute with the shortest of recaps.

    … also they appear to put heavy emphasis on TRAINS. Is that symbolism?

    • April 9, 2018 at 5:21 amOne Pinch Man

      Show Spoiler ▼

      • April 9, 2018 at 8:32 amstarss

        Son of a. You mean it’s ALL LITERAL???

        I did pay attention to one tiny line in this episode: “It IS basically Winter now.” I remembered how the OP and ED both take place in a snowy field and suddenly it all clicked.

      • April 9, 2018 at 12:44 pmpaulrenzo

        The OP contains many elements that can be interpreted in a literal sense.

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