Manga adaptation by J. C. Staff.
Streaming on Crunchyroll.
Yukihira Soma is a talented 15-year-old chef who desperately wants to be able to cook better than his father. He plans to work at the family restaurant after graduating from school, and while he’d certainly be qualified to do so, his father has other ideas.
Euri’s verdict: A Bitter Aftertaste
I’ve been keeping an eye out for cooking-related anime for quite some time now, in an attempt to appeal to my younger brother who works as a chef. He’s enjoyed a few shows over the years like Kaiji and Death Note, but cares little for anime in general. Because of his love for cooking, I thought I’d try and find him something interesting to watch in anime form, but really, there isn’t a great deal to offer. Toriko was reasonably good fun, but in the end it was a shounen show before it was a cooking show, and it was never going to excel on the cooking front given that 99% of food in that show doesn’t actually exist. Then you have shows like Gourmet Girl Graffiti which is more of a show about friendships with a food backdrop than a cooking show. There are some older titles too, but nothing that we’d seen seemed to stand out.
Food Wars certainly caught my eye, but I’d be lying if I say I had my hopes up. Imagine my surprise when the opening sequence depicts a cook-off between Soma, our protagonist, and his father. The episode was still setting up the characters and the plot and thus didn’t spend a huge amount of time on this pre-opening sequence segment, but it certainly seemed to be on the right track. Fortunately, Soma’s second cooking segment was quite fantastic. There was enough time spent on the food preparation that we clearly see how the dish was made, and Soma even explains briefly why he chose to cook the food the way he did, and what his methods were. Hell, the food was even annotated, in both English and Japanese!
But when it comes to recommending this show, I find myself in a situation similar to what I experienced with Nanatsu no Taizai. Let me be perfectly clear: this is an ecchi show. There was a scene involving a girl strung up by tentacles before the opening sequence had even played, and breasts seem to have their own gravity rules, ricocheting over the chest of their owner if they so much as blink. Orgasms are achieved by simply making contact between the food and a tongue, and clothes are quite literally blown away to reveal plenty of skin, just so the show can tell you how good the food tastes.
Yes, it’s an ecchi show through and through, so you’ll be able to tell pretty sharpish whether or not you’ll be able to stomach more than one serving of this show. It’s rather unfortunate, as watching Soma cook was certainly enough to whet my appetite for more than one episode, but how Food Wars handles its ecchi content will really dictate how long it’ll keep my interest. Knowing that this is a shounen show reassures me that at least there will be some semblance of a plot, so fingers crossed there will be enough to offer for anyone interest in the subject matter, and not just ecchi fans.
Iro’s verdict: Half-baked
I read a fair amount of the manga of this when I featured it (nearly two years ago!) for Random Manga Theatre, and I still don’t think it’s particularly good. It’s basically a vehicle for fanservice and lacks either the realism of the restaurant business like Bambino! or the bizarre pun-based comedy of Yakitate! Japan. The manga is drawn by a popular hentai artist, so I suppose you could do “worse” (as far as fanservice can be better or worse) than Soma if you want to watch a boob show.
Every once in a while, there’ll come by an ecchi show that makes you think “You know, that wasn’t terrible.” I call this Dog Days Tier from personal bias, but it’s true that if you inject the right amount of comedy and plot to ecchi nonsense, it can actually carry the show pretty well. I’m not a fan of tentacles, that was definitely creepy, but I think the whole food orgasm thing is goofy enough that it has to be made to be laughed at. Even if you think the fanservice is gross, you have to at least admit that by the end of the show they made the fanservice equal opportunity.
I feel almost like this opener was meant to be sensationalist so it would catch people’s eye before bringing the story into a more controlled environment. The episode one decision of switching the setting from a local restaurant to a culinary academy would at least indicate to me that the tone will be different in the episodes to come. As with Chris, I enjoyed that it took time to explain how Soma made his ridiculous bacon dish. The lack of any showmanship to the food preparation side of things is what turned me off Graffiti instantly, so that one detail definitely makes Soma a lot better in my eyes. I’m fine with it keeping the foodgasms as long as it keeps the preparation aspect interesting.