By Dustin Cabeal
That’s right, more Food Wars! Those of you enjoying the anime will be looking forward to this volume since it picks up after the second season of the show. But wait, hold that excitement some.
This volume is weird. It’s what I call the start of the next cycle since manga writers don’t use story arcs in the way that comic writers in the States do. This story arc is the beginning of the next cycle. It’s a snake shedding its skin in many ways. Soma has peeled away his old self and changed how he cooks. At least that’s what we’re told because it’s not demonstrated in this volume very well.
Soma decides to take on the eighth chair of the top ten. Like everything he just jumps into it so that other characters are forced to explain to him what he’s up against, and this is a cheat so that the writer can explain it to the audience at the same time. He takes on Chinese food knowing very little about it and goes head to head at the school festival which is like a traditional festival, but with cutthroat chefs running about. If he fails to make money, he gets expelled as well, so there’s that threat… again.
The story also shoehorns in all the other characters and really, it’s just sad at this point. From a story angle, it does nothing. Seeing all his former rivals cooking and making veiled threats about facing him again one day is boring. Put up or shut up. Also, I don’t give a fuck about them. I know it’s not written for me and so I accept that the creators are going to feed other characters in for the bulk of the fanbase, but even acknowledging that it’s poorly done in this volume. No one has enough of a presence or page count to make the reader understand what it is they’re doing or worse, care what they’re doing.
The story isn’t bad, and of course, I want to see if Soma can pull it off. That’s the entire point of reading this series. But it’s the start of a new cycle and the writing feels like a big step back; as if the creator is acknowledging that they moved too quickly on some aspects and not fast enough on others leaving us with a weird middle ground that we’re at now. That and how many fucking seasonal challenges are we going to have back to back?
The art is great of course. It’s still incredibly detailed, and the only thing missing in this volume was the food orgasms. There’s a bit of fan service, but even it isn’t that front and center. That’s really for the best since this series shouldn’t be about fan service. The food orgasms are fine because it’s part of the DNA of the story and as the series has moved on there’s been funnier and less revealing ways to enact them. The art is solid and making improvements, which is pretty rare for a manga.
Food Wars! vol. 15 is not my favorite volume of the series. I’ll be back for the next volume still, but this volume brought me down from the high of the last volume (which was better than the anime). It happens. It’s not a deal breaker, but at least this stumble gives the series a chance to improve its storytelling.
Food Wars! vol. 15
Writer: Yuto Tsukuda
Artists: Shun Saeki with Yuki Morisaki
Publisher: Viz Medi