「えりなの研鑽」 (Erina no Kensan)
“Erina’s Diligent Studies”
This episode is pure, unadulterated, 100% hype!
One of the problems with this arc has been the pervasive sense of unfairness. Central has all the power, and they’re punching down with it. Humans hate punching down. That makes it satisfying when the rebels win out, but frustrating when they don’t. Finally, though, Yukihira’s father has given them the power to punch back. This episode was more akin to the equals clashing—maybe not equals in skill or determination, but equals in standing and pride as a chef—that comprised the earlier arcs of Shokugeki no Souma. It was also like the hype reel before a big boxing match, and I’m all on board. The hype is real!
Between the conclusion of the no-talking cooking match and the confrontation at the end, there was a central theme: that of selfishness, and of family. I loved loved loooooved how Erina’s grandfather put her in the group with Souma and Jouichirou so that she would learn a lesson from a family that works. Not just as a chef—the avant garde style, as opposed to the jazz band jam session of the other group which wouldn’t have pushed Erina out of her comfort zone—but just in seeing how a healthy child/father dynamic can work. Because I disagree heartily with the eldest Nakiri: Erina should not ask to cook with her father. While she should learn to be selfish sometimes (which she showed by the end), love cannot be found in a man like that. He’s an abuser who tries to control her life, when he has no claim upon it anymore. He lost his right to any kind of relationship with her long ago. Erina should find love in those willing to give it—her grandfather, her cousin, her friends, and her mentors. Not in that bastard. To pull in a supporting quote from Terry Crews:
“It’s impossible to love someone and control them at the same time. Men have this thing where you must control your world, but you can’t control other people. People get it mixed up, and they’re trying to control others. You telling everyone what to do, does not make you the boss. You doing everything you told yourself to do, makes you the boss.”
That. That so much. If Azami doesn’t disabuse himself of this fallacy, cut him out of your life. The eldest Nakiri was wise to do this for so long. I hope Erina does the same.
That’s why it was so great when Erina finally stood up to her father. That had to be unbelievably hard, and it showed. It also tied back to the theme of selfishness (of children being allowed to be a little selfish, and Azami’s rejection of this idea), so as soon as he used that word, we knew how it was going to go, and it was great. Not like the Tenth Seat matters compared to her own self-worth. I’m also glad that Erina is safe among friends after rejecting her abuser, for at least a little shining while. And granted, I wish she hadn’t agreed to Azami’s toxic, “You will never disobey me again if you lose” demand, though I know it was made and accepted to raise the stakes. It’s just so abhorrent. But her standing up to him in any way is remarkable, and shows how much she’s grown. That’s why all the old men, and all her friends, were smiling. She showed her strength. She beat back her abuser. Now she has to vanquish him, with the help of her friends. The bad thing about these stakes is that I can hardly imagine what would happen if they’re not able to win (no manga spoilers!). It’s nearly beyond the pale. But it’s going to be one helluva clash, and I’m all hyped up. Everything’s on the line, even more than normal. That’s classic Shokugeki no Souma. Time to train!
- They should have Jouichirou re-enroll in school. He never graduated, after all!
- Erina is best when she’s being egotistical in that prickly, not-so-secretly vulnerable (and adorable) way. The true queen of fine dining? Hah, sure! Though it’s vintage Souma to say that he’s going to be the first instead. These two are irascible, I love it. Though I still ship Souma x Megumi, and always will.
- I find Rindou-sempai so fasinating. Notice how her eyes remain visible when the others’ are so incensed/determined as to disappear? She’s a puzzler. I still don’t understand why someone like her went in for the coup. Seems to me like the old Totsuki was more fun for her. Hm.
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.