Episode 10

「新たなる『玉』[ぎょく]」 (Aratanaru “Gyoku”)
“A New Genius”

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Episode 11

「スタジエール」 (Sutajieru)
“The Stagiaire”

With only 3 episodes left this season, I was surprised to see Shokugeki no Souma start a fresh arc that feels like there should be a lot of material to go through. Instead of taking the time to really explain the next task at hand, episode 11 blows through it rather quickly. So fast in fact it’s like I’m missing a large chunk of Hisako’s development – not to mention Erina and Megumi’s. As an anime-only viewer, even if the episode isn’t clearly missing anything or leaving any loose ends hanging, the tone and build-up for the episode could be improved. It literally seems like the creators just copied and pasted all the important frames in the manga and animated it in that sequence exactly as you’d read it. This can be seen as good and bad depending on what you’re trying to accomplish because on one hand, you get all the key frames in but on the other hand, the episode feels jagged. I get that they’re probably crunched on time (especially if they want to wrap up everything in 2 episodes) but then the overall pacing of this season could’ve been improved if they wanted to hit all the right tones as well. Overall, episode 11 wasn’t what I expected from an episode that highlights Souma’s strengths and Hisako’s weaknesses. It almost felt filler-ish, as if they’re trying to skip this chapter to get to the next quickly.

Now I wouldn’t go as far to say that the episode is completely for nothing because a lot of important things happened. Hisako grows a lot more than Souma this episode but a lot of her development is thanks to Souma’s “teachings”. I give her credit (as the other staff in the restaurant do) for being a fast-learner and a genuinely great cook already, but working in a restaurant (as Souma says) is so different than an isolated kitchen/or at home. I’ve only worked in a restaurant once as a waitress (part-time job long ago) but I’ve worked in foodservice for over 3 years and let me tell you – it’s very different. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that Souma would excel in this “challenge” because to him, just another day at the restaurant. The accomplishment came from seeing him change the restaurant and actually build in new ways of operating; reservations only at a restaurant is the key here. In fact, the “Reservations only” rule is a huge change for a restaurant that used to take walk-in customers. Average restaurants these days would do ”Walk-in only” where I’m at because they know that people would wait for their food. For a restaurant that wants to attract more of the local crowd though, it’s hard to draw them in when you have a line-up out the door; especially when your older visitors never used to wait. This change that Souma proposed is definitely a bold one (not to mention a huge change in mentality for the diners) but one that I’m sure will work for the clientele they’re going for.

The biggest win for Hisako this episode though wasn’t so much the actual Stagiaire challenge but the realization that she can’t always walk behind Erina but beside her. She needs to become her own chef and person to be someone that can be by Erina’s side. It wasn’t a huge epiphany or anything for Souma (or even for me as a viewer) but for a side character that didn’t get that much screen time in the past, I’m surprised that Hisako would get that much time with Souma at all. Her character isn’t one that strikes me as someone that I have empathize or sympathy for, but I do like how it makes Souma realize that he can also walk his own path rather than shadowing his father. I never thought that Souma was trying to be anyone other than himself, but I guess it doesn’t help that he’s always trying to defeat his father. Although it gives him a goal and something to strive for, maybe it would do him better to strive to be a better chef in general.

The scenes between Erina and Megumi were short-lived and felt a bit like a filler for the already filler-ish feeling episode. I liked seeing Megumi and Erina “help” the chef in different ways and from their own POV because they see the restaurant from a different perspective. What I didn’t like was seeing the chef’s reaction to it – I mean, you’re asking for help from these students and you know that they’re top students on an assignment… the least you could do is welcome a bit of advice from an unbiased POV. Obviously Erina was way out of line and she’s not the best at delivering “advice” in an non-condescending way… but poor Megumi. Megumi only meant well and the chef still blew up on her. The only good thing that came out out of this experience was seeing Erina actually take Megumi seriously as a chef (and fellow student).

Now for some quick impressions of last week’s episode…
I’m not surprised that Akira won – he was my vote to win as well just from the foodp0rn alone… but I do wish that they didn’t just slap in some sappy scenes with his childhood right before they announced the winner. It made the reveal much less impactful because they’re forcing the sympathy votes from the viewers. Akira’s past has already been briefly shown last season so it doesn’t come to a surprise that he made a lot of progress from his younger days; all thanks to Jun. Not sure if this was also done in the manga, but the timing of it just seemed so coincidental and also gave away the ending. In contrast, Ryou’s past was actually animated piece by piece (almost a bit every episode that had him competing) and I thought it was just enough for us to really understand him. It didn’t come with the convenient timing of him winning and there’s just enough for us to feel triumphant for his wins. Overall though, I felt that Akira truly deserved this win (even though I can’t taste his food). I can’t speak towards his own “uniqueness” coming through in the dish or the flavors that made it his own, but just from visuals, presentations and description of the dish – I would’ve given the win to him.

Author’s Note: Once again, I’m late posting Shokugeki no Souma and I hate giving excuses but I rather given an explanation than none at all. Last week was Labor Day long weekend and I was on vacation with family – thus, not only are weekends bad for me, but this particular LONG weekend was worse. Thanks to all the readers for continuing to put up with me. I promise I read all your comments even when I don’t respond and I appreciate it. The rest of the season should be easier for me (but seriously, no promises as the season preview is on the horizon).

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  1. The Autumn Election Arc was handled better than the Stagiaire so far, in my opinion. It feels like the pace is too high, which is a shame because some more Hishoko wouldn’t hurt. The part with Erina and Megumi felt especially rushed.

    1. I agree, this was rushed tremendously. The necessary content was covered, but it felt like the episode didn’t have room to breathe. It was a big step for Megumi to have her talents recognized, especially by Erina, but you didn’t have time to process that because it was immediately onto the next scene.

      I understand why they want to end it on the upcoming arc, but I feel like they could have cut 5 minutes somewhere else in this cour to make room for this. While cooking is the main focus of this show, character development and their individual progression on their respective journeys is almost as important.

      1. @character development and their individual progression on their respective journeys is almost as important.

        Hisako had hers in this episode. I thought there were some good scenes there with Soma. They finally get some alone time and he changes her on a fundamental level.

  2. Soma has the natural talent, but he’s not the complete chef like Hayama. I didn’t mind this result because Hayama and Ryo showed they had more in the way of experience.

    I thought it was funny the way Erina took over the kitchen on her Stagiaire and made the head chef there feel woefully inadequate lol. Megumi being Megumi was swept along and had to build up the courage to make her mark on the restaurant too!

    Anyway I didn’t mind the pacing for the first Stagiaire. Erina & Megumi went the way you’d expect and didn’t need a whole lot of time. Soma and Hisako felt more important and although it may have went by a bit quickly, it did tell a decent story about how they went to a somewhat failing restaurant and turned things around. Thus fulfilling the first criteria of the Stagiaire.

      1. I’ve always seen it as natural talent anyway! I could be wrong, but hey. I think Soma has shown a lot of talent so far in this series. He also have the ability to be a really great chef. I think some people will just have differing opinions as to how he will get there though 🙂

  3. The anime trimmed some things here and there to squeeze this in. The head chef of the high end French restaurant where Erina and Megumi were sent is not the owner of the restaurant. Tootsuki and the owner reached an agreement, but the chef deeply resented having students intruding in his kitchen and he simply planned to keep them washing dishes for the entire week so he wouldn’t have to deal with them. The owner understood where he was coming from, but was nervous in particular because Erina was present.

    Having said that, the manga establishes that the chef is no joke and is on the verge of being awarded his first Michelin star. Unfortunately for him, he is promptly completely outdone by Erina as his own specialty no less. With her dish, he’s told that there’s no way he won’t earn his star asap. Moreover, she then takes over his kitchen and proceeds to teach everyone there, including him how to run it better as well as how to cook better.

    Sadly for poor Megumi, while the chef was forced to swallow his pride and listen to Erina, he still had no intention of listening to her.

    Also, unfortunately, the anime left out Hisako’s actual mark at the restaurant. She created the new reservation system including the online component, and set up the server and webpage.

    1. Anime: “Here’s Hisoka looking sexy in glasses behind a computer desk. We won’t explain anything about why, considering the last time you saw here was when she was on the floor taking orders, but we’ll depend on your assumptions that it’s one other task for the students. Because depending on your assumptions is the best thing we have ever done this season! Assumptions. ‘They’re always right!’ (TM)”

    2. Thank you for explaining that. There was certainly a lot cut out from Erina/Megumi’s scenes and I thought I was missing a lot but you don’t know what you’re missing until you go and read the manga (which I have not). I try to enjoy the anime as it is but sometimes it warrants a lot more context for some of the scenes – like Erina and Megumi’s.

      Now that I know where the chef is coming from, it makes more sense why he’s so pressured and under high stress. You obviously want to earn a Star through your own efforts but I think it’s important to always have an open mind as well. Erina just delivered critic really badly (as her character does). It’s a shame we don’t really see Erina develop much since she’s already “so perfect” as a chef. I’d like to see more of her change in personality come through though since she’s been the same person since the beginning of the first season =S

      1. @Erina just delivered critic really badly (as her character does).

        She wasn’t very tactful in the delivery of her critique sure. But she did make some valid points to help the restaurant. Sometimes you need to be cruel to be nice.

        There’s probably an element of her reputation that probably hurt his ego some. She’s a Nakiri. The best around, he probably felt threatened by her even being there.

  4. I realized that it could be argued that, unlike other shounen main characters, Souma may or may not actually have “talent” (or some innate special power); it could be said that he’s actually just some regular dude who is just really persistent, and knows how to take advantage of his experiences over the years. This is what I like about him: he’s good not necessarily because of talent/innate ability, but because he is a willing learner.

    1. Soma has natural talent sure, but natural talent will only take you so far. Especially in a school like Totsuki. His loss showed that he has a lot of growth to do as a chef to be the best. He’ll always put 100 percent of himself into any competition, but sometimes that isn’t enough when your opponents simply have more in the way of experience than you.

      @but because he is a willing learner.

      I liked that too. Remember when Soma and Ryo were lurking around Hayama after the loss?

      1. Yeah, there’s something about Soma that draws people to him. The way he reignited Hisakos desire to cook in this episode was pretty amazing. It was one truth that really hit home with her, she knew she could be that person that could walk alongside Erina, she realized she wasn’t the failure she thought she was.

    2. Well, it helps that he’s been learning the trade from a world-renowned chef from elementary school. But you could say it’s because of his personality that he’s been able to come this far, sure.

  5. I do feel like this episode was rather rushed, but I also felt like the Stagiare arc in the manga could have had more meat as well. Imagine going through a month of episodes where Soma teams up with one of the new chefs introduced in the Autumn Election arc in a different restaurant every week! It’d be fun as hell, and I’d love to get into the guts of some of the tertiary characters like the argue-y pair from Polar Star, the chinese girl Hojo, or the Cauldron Witch girl who’s stalking Hisoko now.

    Anyway, one thing that is really cool is that Shokugeki no Soma does a pretty good job of keeping Hisoko’s character growth on-screen rather than hitting some kind of reset button like some animes feel the need to do.

    There’s this bit after the Stagiare arc where Hisoko and Soma meet again and they share this grin and some kind of one-liner… I forget how it goes… and Nakiri is all: “…?” like you can just imagine her thinking, ‘What the heck was that?!’ That was definitely Hisoko’s one moment in the spotlight, but it’s nice how she pops back up sometimes and it kind of feels like she’s decided Soma is part of the Nakiri-wrangling squad now.

  6. I guess the Stagiare has been rushed so far…eh
    They covered pretty much what happened. If anything they coulda given Megumi and Erina’s time a bit more explanation, but I can’t personally see the use of anything beyond an episode and a half toward the first part of the Stagiare, which was pretty ephemeral to begin with.


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