「遠月列車は行」 (Toutsuki-ressha wa Iku)
“Onward to the u Train”
“Fairness” is a funny concept. Take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder and sieve it through the finest sieve and you won’t find one atom of justice (to paraphrase a quote), but we humans have a finely tuned sense for the stuff, and we hate it. So it was that when Souma’s (and the other) groups were getting shit on, getting the worst ingredients and the most disrespect, I felt almost sick to my stomach. It made me want to stop the episode and turn it off. Shows where the villains just want to kill everybody are almost preferable in a sense, because there’s almost a nobility in that. (Almost.) Death is an old song in our world, but inequity is so infuriating because the victims have to live under it, and are often told they’re lucky to do so. But it sucks. What these villains were doing to our heroes sucked, and it was frustrating to watch.
Which is perfect. It can be good to watch our heroes grapple with morally complex villains, but sometimes it’s good to watch them go up against monsters. (Side note: all these Toutsuki staff members sure turned into collaborators fast, didn’t they? The ones that weren’t fired, that is.) Azami breeds monsters, so as much as they disgust me, it was marvelous to see our heroes vanquish them.
You know, this episode made me realize a thing, or forced me to put words to it. Shokugeki no Souma is an inherently optimistic story. It posits that, no matter how corrupt someone is, the truth of the thing will win out. If someone’s cooking is good enough—if it’s true enough—it can win past all sorts of foul play. That’s an optimistic—some would say unrealistic—view of humanity. Real humans will know the truth and lie anyway. There are high-profile instances of this happening in real life as I type this. If this were a realistic story, the rebels would have been expelled at the beginning of Azami’s reign, if he were really intent on doing as he intends. But of course, Toutsuki could never exist in the real world, not when market forces would never support an academy so extravagant, and when no one would believe Azami’s crap for half a second since they know that everyone’s gotta eat, and that there’s a ton of money to be made in everyone eating well enough but not extraordinarily. So what if this show is overly optimistic? It’s an unrealistic series. But it’s also consistent. Good food has always won out in Shokugeki no Souma, and it always will. When it breaks that rule, it very well might be when it jumps the shark. But until then, it’s grand. Good food will always win out. Always.
So it was here. Seeing Souma’s team get their ingredient and prepare it so well that the collaborator couldn’t help but pass them was electrifying. I was cheering and laughing out loud at their triumph! It’s quite likely the arc’s thesis in microcosm, because it will only get more difficult from here.
Bonus points for all the Erina scenes this week, as she becomes more honest with herself. I loved how brittle Erina looked at times, like she’s deathly afraid that her father will steal something else she cares about, which is why she’s so desperately trying to help everyone pass. I also loved when everyone was coming by to see her at the end. She doesn’t realize that they want to thank her, and they also just want to be friends. Adorable! (From a dark place.) And Erina is finally smiling around Souma-kun—wuh oh. Could this be the challenger for Souma’s heart? I could see it happening, but honestly I see her more as a rival in need of saving, more Souma’s Vageta or Sasuke. She’s someone who needs to be saved, but also fought against and fought alongside. That’s where they are now. Onto the next battle!
- While not all of Azami’s teaching philosophy is totally long (as I discussed last week), one part certainly is: the kids who have kowtowed to Central don’t really know anything. They just know how to reproduce what they’ve been told. They’re knowledge isn’t robust, because they’re not reasoning from first principles. They’re little better than robots.
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.