「立ち上がる女騎士」 (Tachiagaru Onna Kishi)
“Jeanne D’Arc Rises”
The anime seems to be clipping on at a brisk pace, and, since I’m not a manga reader, I have no idea if this was how it was in the source material. I do think it’s probably a wise move, though, because the patently unfair tactics the early examiners chose to employ are so galling that they really get my hackles up. Going from, “here’s how we’re going to try to screw you,” to “Hah, not gonna work!” as quickly as feasible is probably smart. It prevents it from being a genuinely unpleasant experience to watch this show, while still allowing the rebels to dunk on Central’s stooges.
That’s also why I’m happy with the surprise at the end of the series, because I think Shokugeki no Souma functions best when it’s cooking titans clashing with the best of ingredients and skills, as opposed to the good guys having to compete with a knife in their backs. It’s like what I’ve talked about before, in regards to using overpowered protagonists: they work best when they’re going up against overpowered antagonists. Make it crazy on both sides and it works. This knife-in-the-back approach is galling, and not Shokugeki no Souma’s best form. Having the rebels go up against Elite Ten members is still patently unfair, of course—forcing them to beat the school’s best in order to move up a grade is totally bonkers—but as long as the actual cooking battles are fair, it’s that clash of the titans again. That’s much better.
The funny thing is, I don’t think Central (or Azami) realizes what they’re doing by throwing all these ridiculous obstacles in the rebels’ way. Central may be trying to eliminate the rebels, but they’re actually doing the opposite: they’re training them. The rebels are already more formidable than the lackeys who are being passed along so quickly, and these battles are forcing them to evolve more rapidly than before—and they were already all improving at a crazy fast rate. They may be able to find some of the young bloods who will come over to their side, but by the time the rebels are done running this gauntlet, they’ll be able to challenge the Elite Ten directly—and, if they replace five of them, they (along with Erina’s vote) will have the numbers to reverse Azami’s reforms and destroy Central. Add in the fact that the former 8th, 7th, and 3rd seats are still lurking out there (and additions like Hayami are probably vulnerable to flipping), and there are a lot of dangers out there for Central. Their hand is strong, but it’s looking less so all the time.
All the macro elements aside, what I really enjoyed about this episode was the mixing and matching of various characters as they took in the sights of Sapporo. Getting to see different characters interact is really cool, but it also shows how much the secondary characters are coming into their own. That includes their cooking, of course—notice how Souma is one face out of many, rather than so clearly leading the pack … the others are catching up—but also in how they’re used as characters. Take Isami. He used to primarily be an accessory to Takumi, and while they’re still together a lot, he’s getting to act on his own more and more. He went to see Erina last episode. He split off from his brother to do something else this episode. He chased after Nikumi to make sure she would be all right by herself. He’s functioning more as just Isami, as opposed to an accessory to Takumi, and this is true of all the others as well. Becoming rebels has been good for them.
I also just appreciate that Nikumi and Erina finally got to reconcile. They weren’t exactly on bad terms, but there was still a rift there, since Nikumi is too deferential and Erina is too clumsy at social interactions in general. Glad to see them patch it up, and to get Erina smiling some more. She’s finally getting real friends. Erina T_T
- I laughed when the examiner was surprised that the rebels banded together. Of course they did! Rebels have to hang together or else they’re surely hang separately, ne?
- Erina sporting that Saber hairstyle, ahoge and all!
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.