By Dustin Cabeal
It’s the second test of the Stagiaire Challenge and Yukihira has been sent to work with the chef that he challenged during the spring… challenge. You know what? They have far too many season theme challenges. Hell, I’m not even sure it was spring… summer? Doesn’t matter. Yukihira is working in Shinomiya’s kitchen, the man that failed Megumi.
Now, instantly I was interested. I know it seemed like Soma and Shinomiya had a rivalry going, but one is an accomplished chef, the other has just learned that his cooking doesn’t paint a picture of him on the plate. Instead of this being a continuation of their last encounter, it’s actually a great learning moment for Soma.
Unlike the first part of the Stagiaire Challenge in which Soma dove into the kitchen with a lot of familiarities and was able to help instantly, here he is out of his element. The kitchen works in complete silence, and at a pace, he’s not used to. But as Soma does, he doesn’t back down and grows more and more each day. He also risks being failed every day because as much as Shinomiya secretly likes Soma as a chef, he also can’t afford to baby him. If you watched the second season of the anime, then you know how the next volume turns out. If you’re just reading the manga, I will tell you that it leaves you on one hell of a cliffhanger that is one of the best. A few of the other volumes stopped awkwardly due to the collected nature of the story, but here it thankfully lines up perfectly. With the knowledge of what comes next, I can already tell that the next volume is going to transition this ending into a new beginning with ease.
The art don’t suck. Sorry, I’m trying to find new ways to tell you that a very successful and mainstream manga has great art. I want to talk about the art, but I also find it utterly pointless to do so. It has to be great to reach this level of publication, and I wish there were more indie manga coming out of Japan because then there would be a point of talking about the art. Food Wars looks great and will continue to do so. That’s the nature of the business, and sometimes I wish the big two here in the states would do the same, but that’s the difference in cultures and business models I suppose.
The great thing about this volume is that aside from the cliffhanger ending, it’s a self-contained story. Pages aren’t wasted on the supporting characters and it’s all on Soma. I like the supporting characters, but at the end of the day I want to read Soma’s journey, and so it’s nice to have a volume that focuses on him. Sure we had Shinomiya’s story and his kitchen crew, but it didn’t feel like a detour, rather a support structure to Soma finding his cooking style. I hope the series does that more in the future, so it doesn’t have as many hard shifts or forced check-ins with other characters… like Akira. Fuck that guy.
Food Wars! vol. 14
Creator: Yuto Tsukuda
Publisher: Viz Media