Shokugeki no Souma: Ni no Sara – 03

I’ve liked Shokugeki no Souma pretty much since the very beginning, but there were a couple of moments in this episode that really made me stop and think “Respect.”  The first was at the beginning, when Megumi lost her match to Kruokiba.  It’s nice to be surprised, and Ryou winning that match was definitely a surprise. The second was at the end of the episode more or less, so I’ll get to it in a minute – but there’s an interesting tie-in between the two, given Ryou’s relationship with Nakiri Alice.

He hasn’t taken the stage yet, but a good chunk of the episode was given over to the formal introduction of Mimasaka Subaru (Yasumoto Hiroki) a character seen at the edges of our vision a few times already and the mysterious eighth contestant in the election finals.  Mimasaka is a man of contrasts – a burly biker-type who looks the part of a punk, but locks his bike up carefully and ties it down with rope neatly as you please and serves his guests proper Japanese tea and sweets.  He welcomes Souma and Megumi (running late) to watch the third quarter-final in his dressing room, and they’re joined by his eventual opponent Takumi.  Mimasaka shows off his obsessively meticulous side quite readily – to say he does his homework would be an understatement – but there’s a less pleasant side to him that he doesn’t reveal until later.

That third quarter-final pits spice boy Hayama Akira against Erina’s lackey Hisako in a burger battle.  It’s a match that seems a bit one-sided on paper and based on the prelims, but Erina isn’t one to make it routine.  I must say I was rather shocked that she whipped out a live Japanese soft-shelled turtle, suppon (when I saw her pot shaking I thought it might be a lobster, and was freaking out at that) and promptly chopped off its head.  This series has guts, I’ll give it that – and they’re flying all over the place.  I don’t know if that was something I needed or wanted to see, to be honest, but credit for ballsiness.  As for Akira, he decided to do a riff on the doner kebab – a ludicrously popular item of street food in Japan, and very much in his comfort zone as a chef.

Here’s that other part of the episode where Shokugeki no Souma got my respect.  Something has always nagged at me about Hisako and characters like her, and after solidly defeating her Akira came right out and said it.  Characters who define themselves solely through impressing someone else – especially in as shallow a relationship as Hisako has with Erina – don’t impress me.  Good for Hayama-kun both for winning the match and calling out Hisako for setting her sights too low, and good for Shokugeki for showing that it gets that.

There is a larger theme at work here, though, and I’m not exactly certain how it resolves itself as a whole.  I mean, Ryou basically defines himself through Alice in the same way that Hisako does through Erina – and he won his match.  And Takumi’s motivation is driven by his shounen rival man crush on Souma to what seems to me an unhealthy degree.  I get that Takumi appreciates having a rival his own age who treats him with respect – that’s totally healthy.  But why does everything with Takumi always seem to come down to Souma?  Like Hisako, I think he needs something stronger and self-driven or he’ll never truly be a threat to those at the top.

As for Subaru (remember him?) he shows himself to be a masterful manipulator, someone who actually utilizes the information he obsessively collects to get inside the head of his rivals.  That whole business with figuratively spitting on Takumi’s skills (and even more his brother’s) and literally on his rocking knife is pretty demeaning to all involved.  I was thinking for a while there that Mimasaka might be a big-time player, but I think his actions in this episode reveal him to be small potatoes and not worthy of consideration as a rival to Souma or those on his level.  He might still be a threat to take out Takumi though after rattling him the way he did, in the process (presumably) goading him into challenging him to a shokugeki (I didn’t realize that was an option).  Obviously that’s a dynamic Mimasaka feels favors him, and he’s not one to misread a detail like that.

One last thought – where are my hilarious eyecatches, J.C. Staff?  I miss them!

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9 comments

  1. H

    When it comes to Kurokiba at least, while he may have been hired as her attendant (and apparently fiance unbeknownst to him and everyone else who didn’t read the spin-off series, me included) he doesn’t play second fiddle to her in the slightest (he even claimed to be better at cooking than her last episode).

    Hope that fiance thing doesn’t count as spoilers (wasn’t even hinted at in the manga yet).

  2. J

    Yeah, I think you underestimated Ryou here, or maybe the show didn’t make him seem like as much of a threat as the manga did but he’s Alice’s equal and Megumi really didn’t have a chance. She still did well, though.

  3. a

    That turtle cooking bit gave me nightmares when I read it in the manga. That was a wrong step for Shokugeki no Souma for me. That’s just wrong.

  4. S

    What was wrong exactly? Killing of animals? Nothing here was weirder than what they usually do to other animals, heh.

  5. Well, it IS kinda gross, but I mean, they’re ALL cooking meat and seafood, so behind every dish there’s one or multiple animals slaughtered anyway. Whether it happens on screen or not isn’t that much different all in all. Though it did make me think that it’d be interesting to see a character who’s shtick is they’re vegetarians and don’t do meat dishes at all – but still manage to whip out umami from specific vegetables.

  6. A

    Okay, here’s an incredibly important scene in the manga that didn’t make it to the anime for whatever reason.

    The thing with Kurokiba is that he RESPECTS her, and in many ways have surpassed Alice. It’s not the same as Erina.

  7. L

    Does this count as a spoiler? Its not in the anime yet because its farther in the manga. Not in the Megumi X Ryou fight at least.

    Also, I kinda agree with Enzo on the part of Takumi’s motivation in winning. I mean, only because he wants to beat Soma? Yeah, thats too low of a goal. Ryou and Alice has Oujo-sama X Loyal Butler dynamics, but not nearly as Hisako to Erina. Plus, their interactions are like a demanding friend to a i-am-so-tired-of-this-sht-but-ill-do-it-anyway friend. Which is nice. Especially if it evolves to something.

  8. I deleted that part of the original comment, just to be on the safe side.

  9. I thought the biker dude was a pretty normal, albeit a little obsessive guy, but then he suddenly lost his marbles.

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