By Dustin Cabeal
I can honestly say that I did not see this story direction happening. Volume Sixteen completes Soma’s challenge of the food festival, and if you were feeling burnt out on all the festival challenges, well don’t worry, apparently, the creator was too so he kind of brushes this one under the rug in favor of what he reveals. Hint, look at the cover.
I’m not quite giving Soma’s challenge it’s fair shake, it is interesting in that he continues to develop his new style and we see the start of that here. It’s just that it’s another semi-loss for him and that’s starting to get old. He can’t lose or somewhat loose to everyone because it makes the reader question his skills and really in this sense is makes me question if the writer has the knowledge of food to truly amplify Soma to the level he’s been teased to reach.
The big part of the volume that I want to discuss is the return of Erina’s father. Now, I’m not going to spoil the big plot point that happens in this volume, but let’s just say that it changes the course of the entire series which is incredible. It’s also scary as hell because Soma was facing enough challenges, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t the absolute best direction for the series. The father’s backstory is interesting and places him in the perfect position to be the ultimate antagonist for the series. Why? Because the likelihood of Soma winning him over like he’s done to his rivals is slim to none. Probably a negative chance. If he were rolling a D20, he’d need like seven natural 20’s.
The writing finds its way in this volume. My gripe with the last volume was that it felt like it was floundering and too much of the same. That’s how this volume started off as well, but the last third kicked it into the pants. Whatever inspired the magic, I’m glad it came because I was honestly worried about the quality of this series. It’s reached that point of being a “safe” choice to read, but that doesn’t make it or keep it enjoyable.
The art feels a bit sharper in this volume as well. Again, the last third, in particular, grabs you and makes you pay attention. The “fanservice” moments are toned down some or in some cases switched out for something a little darker. Volume Sixteen was the first time in a while that the art felt like it was carrying the story rather than just being the visuals attached to it. The emotion on Erina’s face, in particular, were to a new level of visual storytelling for the series.
The next volume is sure to be good. It also, in many ways, will be a great jumping on point for anyone that’s been interested in reading the series. I kid you not, you’ll need some help on the characters, but in many ways, it’s a whole new ball game in the next volume. I for one will be looking forward to it.
Food Wars! vol. 16
Writer: Yuto Tsukuda
Artist: Shun Saeki
Publisher: Viz Media