「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

Random thoughts:

  • 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.

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  1. I don’t remember this arc super well in the manga, but I do remember being pretty worried about how well it would translate.

    Like, the cooking battle fun is still there, but there’s a lot more drama and Erina’s stuff just didn’t hook me at all. I didn’t think it held up great compared to the Autumn Elections and that arc with the bun stand, which I thought was some of Food Wars’s best material. I’m pretty happy with how it’s been going, though!

    1. Hope Nikumi gets to hang out with Erina again after having been off her radar for over 2 seasons, both have changed a lot for the better since then! And I’m super excited for more Rindou epicness~

  2. As a manga reader, I’m fine with the faster pace with the Central exams so far. It felt like one of the weaker arcs, particularly for the frustrating one-sided exams/examiners that added little to the plot, so getting through that to focus on the bigger moments isn’t a bad choice. Especially since this will only be 12-13 episodes.

    Show Spoiler ▼

      1. This current arc(Promotion exam) is still ongoing in the manga. It’ll be at least another season after this one before its concluded. That said I think you’re probably unhappy with the Central stuff that carries over to this one.

  3. This style suits the content being covered much better.
    The manga drew everything out to almighty hell and it sucked the tension out of the battles time and time again. Even now they somewhat fall into the same bad habits, but the turn arounds have been incredibly fulfilling ultimately.
    Can’t wait to see how they’ll portray the rest of this arc and then I hope the show takes a pretty heavy break to give the manga time to actually pave out a new gap in content.
    The manga arcs have been so long and drawn out that this portrayal of the events at ultra speed is satisfying, but daunting.

    1. Kinda what I was thinking. It’s always worrying when content is rushed, but if it’s being rushed for good narrative reason (as opposed to meddling from the suits), then I’m for it. Or potentially for it. We’ll have to see how it ultimately pans out.

    2. I think the author should start thinking about bringing the series to a close. I think the length of this current arc shows he’s struggling creatively to take the story forward.

      1. For those who don’t know or otherwise wouldn’t care regardless.

        Chapter 172 – Start of Promotion Exams arc(Episode 14).
        Chapter 260 – Present date – arc still ongoing.

      2. Personally I don’t think it’s time to end the series, but this plot point with Erina’s father just never struck the chord it intended to hit.
        We got astounding character development start to finish and honestly I feel this entire Central Arc was just a huge misstep that was salvaged by all the development we get from a lot of characters.
        The concept of Central is just unrealistic to the point where suspension of disbelief can’t even be considered.
        I’ll switch to spoilers now for the sake of others:
        Show Spoiler ▼

        But nope, we’ve got the worlds most idiotic father who’s effectively working to taint the food world with stunts in creativity and expression in pursuit of his own idea of gourmet cooking.

    1. From an anime-only perspective, Hayama’s current status is a twist. But if you think about it, it’s a very logical twist. After all, we know that Hayama fights for Jun, whose Seminar is likely on the chopping block due to Azami. Hayama’s conspicuous absence during the Survivor Hunt, which was noted by Soma (if memory serves) during the Hunt, narrows down the number of possibilities. And remember, Hayama won the Autumn Elections. Put the clues together, and it should be fairly clear what likely happened to Hayama to bring forth this twist.

      1. It is a twist, but everything you said is what makes it a good twist. It’s the kind of twist that someone could have anticipated, but probably many people didn’t bother to think about it long enough to see it coming, so it remains a surprise. Yet we can easily trace the logic retroactively, so it makes sense. That’s some good work right there.

    2. Nope, but was it really that much of a surprise given two simple reasons:
      a) His lack of presence with the rebels during Erina’s training
      b) Central’s objective to end all extracurricular activity
      Ever since he was introduced he’s been lumped together with the main cast more often than most so this was honestly visible since Central was introduced if you think back.

  4. I hope the Erina fawning prevalent in this season stops now that we’re at some meatier content, though I doubt it will. She’s just such a horribly written and boring character.

    I enjoyed the interactions between unexpected members of the cast, rather than sticking to the usual groups. The Hayama twist worked nicely, since the rebel cast is large enough that I hadn’t noted his absence up until now.

    1. Erina does kind of leave me cold compared to… basically the entire rest of the cast.

      I actually like her secretary more. Hisoko is constantly flipping out over Erina’s safety and inability to use a washing machine or whatever, and that’s pretty funny. And then after the Stagiare thing where she flips and starts going ‘Oh Soma, good, come help me with Erina’. Like, now she trusts him with this person who is super important to her, and that’s a great little character arc.

      Heck, I’d rather see Soma shack up with Nikumi, and her whole character is ‘tsundere with big titties who’s good with meat dishes.’

      But she seems super popular with the Japanese crowd, so I doubt we’ll ever see Erina fade into the background.

      1. Hisako’s Stagiare arc made me like her. It’s been nice to see how her interactions with Souma have changed because of it this season.

        As for Souma pairings, Stilts knows where it’s at.


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