「うまみの綱渡り」 (Umami no Tsunawatari)
“The Umami Tightrope”
As I suspected, Akira is doing it all for Jun. Whereas others had nothing to lose but their safe spaces, the Shiomi Research Group had corporate partnerships and risk as well, so Azami had more leverage over them. It occurs to me that the story assumes one thing: that staying at Totsuki is desirable. In this case, I don’t think it is. If companies are contracting directly with the Shiomi Research Group, as opposed to Totsuki more generally, then Jun probably has enough clout to strike out on her own, and she’d be a fool to not have backups of her research. (There may be something where the academy owns that research, but I find that hard to believe in the realm of food. If she’s creating new compounds, sure, but her thing is spices. That’s a combining or utilizing game, and I can’t imagine those can be copyrighted.) But it’s just taken for granted that they must stay at Totsuki, so Azami has Akira over a barrel, and he folds.
Not that Souma isn’t right. Akira is still talented, but he’s acting like a pathetic loser. As I said in my last post, he failed to protect his precious place and submitted to the tyrant, leaving himself unmoored. He’s powerful but frail, formidable but vulnerable. Whereas Souma-kun has had to grow from his failures, leaving him with a chance to go over the top.
I loved the new characters, especially the doting father and husband. (Also, the cosplay.) (Alice really won the Nakiri papa competition. Didn’t she? Though then again, that’s a low bar to clear when the alternative is Azami.) I also loved that Akira opted for chicken fried bear, not the least because I’m a Southern boy. (Why did they chop El Paso off the map? Also Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky, though I can understand those. Not just finishing that West-most line is weird, though.) Anything is good if you fry it right! Ditto to Yukihira, them going toe-to-toe with similar techniques is a great way to make the battle have more dramatic weight. It’s a tactic Shokugeki no Souma has made good use of before.
Of course, Souma is going to win. Because it would be nearly beyond the pale for the main protagonist to lose here, yes—though he’s lost in ways that seemed beyond the pale before, like when he challenged Tsukasa—but also because his dish isn’t finished yet. They will taste Akira’s dish, and it will seem like he is going to win, until Souma points out that his dish is not complete yet: the sauce. And that, I suspect, will be what puts him over the top. I haven’t read the source material, but I’d wager that’s how it’s going to go. We’ll find out next week.
We’ll also find out the bigger question: Will everyone else survive this round? With some going up against the second and first seats, it’s looking dire. We could see some heads roll, or maybe we won’t. Like I said, we’ll find out next week (and beyond).
- “I have no idea what you’re planning to prepare, but there’s nothing to compare between us anymore. We are worlds apart.” I have a feeling you’re correct, Akira, but not for the reason you’re assuming.
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: Forbidden Island, coast to coast.