Random Manga Theatre 51: Soma’s Dinner Drama

Hit the “Random” button and see what comes up! In this feature, we take a look at whatever manga the Random Number God decides to throw at us and find out if it’s worth your time.

This time: Shokugeki no Soma, with art by Saeki Shun and scenario by Tsukuda Yuto

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I guess every subset of media has some sort of cooking series. There are cooking movies, cook books, cooking television shows, cooking anime, cooking manga… hell, there’s probably some cooking porn out there somewhere. Actually, I guess this manga kind of fits both of those last two categories.

Shokugeki no Soma (which we here at The Glorio Blog have taken the liberty of translating as Soma’s Dinner Drama because none of the damn scanlators have bothered to do so) is the story of the eponymous Soma (who could’ve guessed), the son of a restauranteur who wishes to become the greatest chef that ever was! Well actually, he just wants to be a better cook than his father, who is pretty much the greatest chef that ever was, so I’m not completely off base. Because 99% of anime/manga are required by Japanese law to involve some sort of high school element, apparently the best way for Soma to do this is to go to a super pompous and prestigious culinary school.

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What follows is a series of cooking duels, essentially following the conventions of other cooking manga. There’s always a secret ingredient or some other sort of condition – like using only locally grown ingredients – that makes life tougher for Soma and his buddies, but because this is a shonen manga, he still always wins or ties. Typically, Soma whips out some ridiculous improvised dish based on his experience in the family restaurant and it’s always so delicious that the judges (who invariably include at least one female) have literal foodgasms. Since Soma’s Dinner Drama is illustrated by popular hentai artist Tosh, these tend to be as explicit as they can possibly get away with in Weekly Jump.

Verdict: Half-Baked Plot
This hasn’t really shown me enough to keep me interested. I’ve heard this manga compared to Yakitate! Japan, but that series’s off-the-wall comedy and tight focus on just bread/baking made it both entertaining and informational (most of the time). While this has some of that, it mostly just seems to lack a point. The food looks nice and sounds nice, but to what end? Looking at cute girls in compromising poses after they eat food? Though it is competently made, Shokugeki no Soma needs to bring more to the table if it wants to become more than just an appetizer for better manga.

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