Shokugeki no Souma: Ni no Sara – 10

Shokugeki no Souma 2 - 10 -1If you’re a believer in Shounen 101 as a guidepost for how series are going to play out, the results of the Autumn Elections aren’t going to have come as a huge surprise.  It would be pretty early in the game for the protagonist to have achieved a win this big (in theory about the biggest possible for a kid in his first year), so it makes sense for Souma to come close but fall just short.  Plus, it gives his dad another opportunity to needle him (not to mention, based on what I saw the right chef won).

Shokugeki no Souma 2 - 10 -2Back to the question I raised last week: did this finale live up to expectations?  Well, probably not – but the context, I suppose, is that Shokugeki no Souma is a series that’s all about the expectations.  This series is theatre for its its own sake, doing everything in style with an overdose of flash and bombast.  That matters more than whether Souma-kun’s soy milk/miso/Parmesan broth lived up to all the hype – but for what it’s worth, it didn’t come off as all that special.  And I still have doubts about the whole idea of resting the entire dish on second helpings (which he already more or less did in his match with Alice anyway).

Shokugeki no Souma 2 - 10 -3In the final analysis I’d probably have picked Hayama Akira’s Carpaccio as the winner too – with the obvious caveat that not having tasted any of them that doesn’t mean much.  His approach seems to have done the best job in highlighting the desirable qualities of the ingredient itself, which would seem to be paramount if the other factors were effectively equal.  Obviously Souma falls behind the others in terms of ingredient selection, but he probably does deserve the nod for creativity in the way he overcame that.  If we’re to believe the chairman the three dishes were relatively even flavor-wise – though it seemed to me that their was less violent reaction to Souma’s than to the other two.

Shokugeki no Souma 2 - 10 -4Does the reason the judges gave for choosing Akira – that his dish more acutely reflected who he was as a chef and thus earned the term “specialty” – hold up?  Well, it seems kinda contrived to me to be honest  but I don’t mind, because I think Akira earned the win anyway.  Frankly, he seems like the most mature and accomplished chef of the three, too.  Another reason I don’t mind is that as a premise, this is a notion that lends itself to some interesting development for Souma.  As a chef, he is something of a chameleon – he can work with humble ingredients, he’s relentless in his hard work to get the best out of them.  He takes something from his Dad’s style, and learns from everyone he faces.  But what is his style – what defines Souma as a chef?  It’s a question adolescent artists in every field have to face sooner or later in some form if they’re going to achieve greatness, and seems a solid foundation for the rest of Souma-kun’s character arc.

Shokugeki no Souma 2 - 10 -5Speaking of arcs, it seems as if Ni no Sara is going to conclude with the Stagiare Arc (a stagiaire is a temporary “intern” chef who works for free).  Hopefully it’s a short one, as this season has only three episodes left and frankly, I wouldn’t consider it a foregone conclusion that we’re going to get another.  We’ve seen other popular Shounen Jump manga with even worse disc sales get full adaptations (Bakuman comes to mind) so it’s certainly possible, but I suspect that even if a third season is in the cards, we may not see it for quite some time.

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5 comments

  1. I think Souma’s style is to make food that’s down to earth and homely, all his dishes have had that quality in some form, maybe with a bit of a Japanese edge sometimes.

  2. o

    I just found this round kind of annoying, partly because of the three-way final, and partly because the criteria seemed kind of skewed.

    If “signature style” is a deciding factor, shouldn’t that have been made clear beforehand? And how would the judges be able to determine that when some of them had never tried dishes by any of the competitors before? (And really, if they’re top quality chefs who already have fully developed signature styles, why do they need to be in the school?)

    Not disagreeing with the results, just the reasoning.

    And that aside, since the results are supposed to determine ranking, shouldn’t they have made clear who was in 2nd place?

  3. Yes, they should have made it clear – fair point. But since the whole 3-way was an asspull anyway, who knows what “rules” apply?

    I’m in exactly the same boat – fine with the results, but not the reasoning. Akira did deserve to win, but the reason given just seemed like a made-up pretense to justify it. That said, the saving grace is that it does provide some interesting grist for the mill of Souma’s character development.

  4. N

    You know, this season feels a lot like Chihayafuru’s second season to me – too much focus on the ‘battle’ aspect, not enough time to breath between showdowns, and minor characters being completely neglected as a result. (Of course, Chihayafuru didn’t have the excuses of being only a single cour.)

    I’m still enjoying Shokugeki no Souma, but I can’t help but ask – really? a mini arc to finish this season? I would have much preferred these last three episodes used within the main arc of the series.

  5. Yes, I think the single cour issue is a big factor in the pacing moving straight from battle to battle. It’s also one reason I’m not too optimistic about more seasons – there was plenty of material to do two cours here if the powers that be had wanted to do them.

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