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« Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara – 23

Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara – 24 (END)

「強者たる所以」 (Kyousha Taru Yuen)
“The Basis for Strength”

Perfect is not enough when you’re facing Yukihira Souma.

This final battle of the current anime run is vintage Shokugeki no Souma. It’s clear from the get-go that Souma is going to win; that’s fine. What matters is how he wins, and what it shows us about both Souma and Nene. Choosing to elevate cup yakisoba is certainly very Souma, but what I most loved is the perception and flexibility it showed. When characters started calling out the temperature of the arena, I knew that would factor in, but showing that it was the variable Souma realized and exploited—that he was thinking about his dish and his customers in a way that Nene was not—shows that Souma deserved this victory. He’s a diner boy through and through, and that gives him so many advantages, including complete comfort with the pressure that weighs down on other contestants, because he’s used to it. Best of all, though, is that he’s always focused on the customer. Always! It’s not about expressing himself, save for that being the best way to delight his customers. It’s not about him. It’s about them, the people who will enjoy his dish. And that makes Yukihira Souma a very easy chef to root for.

I also got a real chuckle out of how the other match was resolved off screen. Good! Like the current arc in another series I’m covering, I wouldn’t be surprised if the protagonists go up several matches, only for the antagonists to claw their way back when their heavyweights take to the field. How are nameless mooks going to beat established characters, even ones like Magishima Tosuke? That just makes him more likely to win—we need to learn what’s his deal! But they didn’t waste our time with a tedious match, and got a good punch line in too. Good.

The series ends on a huge cliffhanger, and I’m surprised it hasn’t already been greenlit for another season. (Granted, I don’t know how well this anime has been selling, but it feels as if we’ve come too far to stop now.) There’s much still to see—but this is the end for now. Let’s get to the final impressions.

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Final Impressions

The current arc of Shokugeki no Souma was a huge gamble. It took the formula that was working—cooking battles and foodgasms in a sports anime vein—and turned it into a Good vs Evil struggle. That’s a risk, and at times it has threatened to poison the well of what makes the series work. There used to be a sense of unpredictability, especially in shokugekis with lower stakes (i.e. the ones where Souma wasn’t at risk of expulsion). Like, remember the Moon Festival? That might have been peak Shokugeki no Souma for me. Souma battling it out against Kuga with pride on the line was so fun, especially as he demonstrated the ways in which his philosophies of cooking and restaurant operation were superior to that of Kuga’s. It was a battle that could have gone any way, and so was tense up until the last moment.

In comparison, as soon as the stakes became the future of all restaurants in the world and the expulsion of all the main characters, the contours of the plot became easier to see. Curve balls were still thrown, and for that I have mad respect, but it seemed like Shokugeki no Souma was discarding its greatest strength.

And yet, what choice was there? Could Shokugeki no Souma have continued to do the same thing over and over again, evolving only by inches while its story stayed basically the same? I mean, yes. But would it have been best? I’m a firm believer of not messing up a good thing, but also of not being complacent until the thing you do stops working and your readers all leave. I know these can be mutually exclusive! So yes, the Shokugeki no Souma team had a choice of staying the course or changing things up. I think they way they changed things up damaged the story on the hole. I don’t necessarily think the change was a bad idea, though. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

The issue, I feel, is not that the contours of the plot became easier to see. It was often easy to anticipate who would win, since expulsion was so often on the line. The problem came when the shokugekis started feeling unfair. There has always been a rightness to Shokugeki no Souma, in that if your cooking is good enough, you can surmount all obstacles. This season did not violate that rule, which is extremely good; had it, the series would have died. Yet it came close. The biased test administrators and the dirty tricks were frustrating in a way that almost made me want to stop watching. This series has always have bullies and bastards, but they always fought it out fair and square in the cooking arena. Those tricks were so annoying, and it’s only the fact that good enough cooking could still see the characters through that prevented the series from souring. But it was a near thing.

Not that this arc hasn’t been without its plus sides, including one that couldn’t have come about any other way. That plus side is Erina. Her depiction as an abuse victim still cowering at her abuser (her father) was heartbreaking, but to see her slowly gain the strength to oppose him was marvelous. It was only possible through her strength, yes, but also through the support of her friends and mentors and (non-poisonous) family, who stood by her and encouraged her and gave her that strength, their strength, by being there to stand beside her. They unlocked Erina’s strength, and when she stood up to her father, renounced her seat on the Elite Ten, and wholly joined the rebellion—wow. That wouldn’t have been possible without this arc I don’t think. Maybe Azami could have been used in another way, but without him being the principle antagonist, I’m not sure it would have had the same effect.

On the whole, this season of Shokugeki no Souma was fun. At its worst, this series is still a lot of fun. This wasn’t the strongest season, and I suspect the end game will be weaker than the preceding arcs after all is said and done, but even then, the season was fun. I hope another season will be greenlit soon, so we can get the end of the manga in anime form, and enjoy this series to the last drop.

End Card

June 24, 2018 at 11:34 pm
21 comments »
  • June 25, 2018 at 12:46 amBakapooru

    Maybe I missed something, but I don’t see the point in staying that school if they expect the students to copy the recipes and technique. I would rather go to another less “prestigious” school than deal with the lack of imagination that they’re teaching. One can still get into “The Book” without going to Totsuki and probably cheaper too.

    • June 26, 2018 at 12:17 amGuile

      The point is that Azami is making the school work like… well, a normal trade school. Here are world-class recipes, we will teach you the best techniques to make them, we will rule the stomachs of the nation, etcetera.

      I appreciate that Azami has always had half a point, because the way Totsuki ran was pretty goddamn stupid, with the shining 1% of geniuses getting through and everybody else eating shit and being expelled sometime over the 3 year course.

      • June 26, 2018 at 7:21 pmStilts

        Guile is right. The problem, in turn, is that Azami’s quest has only sporadically been painted in a positive light, as he’s not really doing it for the people he’s alleged there to help, he’s doing it for other reasons (power, control, and Jouichirou). There’s also the issue that Totsuki’s weird (bad) set up is what makes it fun as a fictional setting, so it’s against our (the viewers’) best interests to wish it changed.

        They could have turned this into a legitimate discussion, where the villain has a real point and ends up changing the protagonists’ point of view by the end (think Black Panther)—or, even if Totsuki mostly didn’t change, they could have just stopped expelling people so often. That would be a huge benefit for it as an educational institution. But there wasn’t a sincere desire on the author’s part for doing that, so it wasn’t done.

  • June 25, 2018 at 1:09 amChisel

    This has definitely been the weakest season so far imo. Felt extremely rushed and the worst part has to be how they’ve just cut out practically all the actual COOKING in a cooking shounen show. Heck that’s like half of the reason I enjoy the series so much.

    Also still scratching my head about how they were making the team shokugeki out to be a match where teamwork plays a big role (wasn’t that the point of the Saiba vs Dojima practice match) only for there to be absolutely ZERO teamwork in the actual team shokugeki.

    Another downside of this season has definitely been the pacing. Felt way too rushed imo. I know that this arc is apparently dragged on too slowly in the manga, but the anime’s solution of just blasting through the content is not any better. The biggest victim of this would have to be the actual cooking in the shokugeki’s. Only giving us a little (and later on, none at all) of the cooking process and then just jumping into the judging stage doesn’t give the victories as much weight. Also didn’t like how they skipped a whole section of Yukihira and co. gathering up their team for the final match (though this is apparently how the manga did it).

    If it gets any more seasons, it’ll have to step up to the level of the previous seasons to have me come back to this show cause this season definitely has soured me to the adaptation as a whole.

    Id have to give a 7.5/10 for the 2nd half of S3.

  • June 25, 2018 at 1:38 amzztop

    The anime covered up to Chp 217 of the manga.

    This team shokugeki ends on Chp 263, also marking the end of the Central Arc as a whole.
    So there’s about 46 chapters until the Arc ends.

    Considering the latest chapter is Chp 268, the question is whether they’ll adapt the remaining 46 chps into 1 arc, or wait until more manga content is released.

  • June 25, 2018 at 5:03 amSoulCaster

    So… they actually showed the face of Megishima’s opponent in the anime, maybe I’m remembering things wrong, but I recall it being kept hidden in he manga. I haven’t watched this season yet, but heard some not so great things, so maybe I’ll pass… And what an odd place to end this season… these kinds of season cliff-hangers annoy me…

  • June 25, 2018 at 6:24 amoranges

    Well, the thing is that expulsion actually was on the line at the Moon Festival. Same for Stagiaire, the hell camp, etc. The only time in the series expulsion wasn’t on the line was the Autumn Elections.

    • June 25, 2018 at 10:21 pmStilts

      True, but only initially. After they stopped losing money, it was about beating Kuga. That is what elevated that arc (and the Autumn Elections) in my mind.

  • June 25, 2018 at 8:34 amrandomlurker

    so… kimi no nawa is better than toki wo kakeru shoujo?

  • June 25, 2018 at 9:19 amWorldwidedepp

    • June 25, 2018 at 9:24 amWorldwidedepp

      https://randomc.net/image/Shokugeki%20no%20Souma/Shokugeki%20no%20Souma%20San%20no%20Sara%20-%2024%20-%20Large%2022.jpg

      also to give the Manga-ka some ideas in how he/she could add more modifications.. You know Greece Gods? Well, they do not need to know their names and skills.. The ancient painting of them… use them as inspiration. Some have Wings under his feet and so on. Give some of them an “Zeus” cosplay, or “Adonis” (with typical helm and stuff).. Et Voila… well, i admit that perhaps the manga fans in Nippon do not know anything about them.. but is it not the mysterious touch not curious to find out?

      • June 25, 2018 at 9:25 amWorldwidedepp

        Birth of Venus painting, just with the Dish/food as Venus or vice versa

      • June 25, 2018 at 9:26 amWorldwidedepp

        Beethoven found the his “beat” while eating his favorite food and so on…

        Mozart got kissed from muse after he eat his dish… and so on

      • June 25, 2018 at 9:29 amWorldwidedepp

        Albert Einstein found his E= MC*2….. well and so on.. open your mind, spread the wisdom.. Do not nippon has an religion where machines, tools and stuff has an soul, too? Use it for “History”

      • June 25, 2018 at 1:08 pmWorldwidedepp

        France Cusine? “Louis de Funes” (he made also an Chef cook film) “The Tree Musketeers” and so on.. or even “The King of the Sun”… Well.. use some History anchors and well know “faces” from France.. et voila!

        Sorry, my fountain of ideas is about to close now… Good look and i hope my “muse” could give you some ideas

      • June 25, 2018 at 1:13 pmWorldwidedepp

  • June 25, 2018 at 10:49 amstarss

    … you are kidding me.

    They reached the end of this season and they didn’t even wrap up the Central Arc?? So what was the point of rushing it? And I don’t see any trace of a Season 4 announcement!

    • June 25, 2018 at 11:22 amLyfe

      Season 4 will probably be announced for the Winter season(Jan 2019). That or they may just wait until next Summer. I have a feeling we won’t be waiting that long for it.

  • June 25, 2018 at 1:29 pmNeriya

    Shokugeki no Souma has always required significant suspension of disbelief. But this Central arc requires a whole extra level of it to believe that the Elite 10 and the entire student body would go along with Azami’s draconian and nonsensical propositions. It serves its purpose narratively, to get the gang in conflict with the Elite 10, and to get Erina involved. But I’m sure it could have been done in a more natural way.

    But heavy handed plot and ever decreasing animation budget aside, the fun’s still there, and there are content/pacing improvements over season 2. The characters still drive this show, and there have been some great moments.

    The introduction of the full Elite 10 has given some great new characters too, in Rindo, Tsukasa and (a late entry) Nene. Tomokazu Sugita hamming it up as Eizen in the first part of the split cour was great to watch too.

  • June 26, 2018 at 7:08 pmzeroyuki92

    I would add that in addition to stupid plot, they also added stupid totally flat evil characters that are literally villain goons. This is very disappointing in a series which almost always have good characters even on the villain side.

    Thankfully they rather quickly switched to focus into Top 10 instead, but even them are mostly not developed well enough.

  • June 26, 2018 at 10:43 pmMormegil

    I actually thought this 2nd cour, overall, was very strong. There were quite a few hype moments, and the episodes actually left me off excited for more. Can’t remember the last time I felt that way, but it was probably way back in Season 1. The 1st cour, however, was very weak. Azami’s introduction was…yeah. Felt like the series just completely jumped the shark. But the 2nd cour made his motivations a lot clearer, especially with regards to Joichiro. Also helps that Erina became a fantastic character; add in the lovely Rindo, who’s just a lot of fun; Soma being badass, as usual. I dunno. Everything felt strong this cour. Like back to the usual fun Shokugeki no Soma series we know and love.

    Plus, sudden Horie Yui foodgasm. Thank you for this blessing.

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