By Dustin Cabeal
Did you read the last volume? That twist huh? It is so damn good. It completely refreshes the direction of Food Wars! because let’s be honest, Soma just continuing to have battle after battle and winning and losing and growing would have been fine, but not interesting. Now, now some real character development can go down, and I would say that the ending of this volume is just the start to that.
For those of you that haven’t read volume sixteen of Food Wars! yet, there’s going to be some spoilers in this review. The reason being that with the complete and total shift of the series I would have to review in the vaguest of terms to not spoil the last volume. I don’t want to write that review so spoilers ahead.
In the last volume, Erina’s grandfather was booted out of the school, and her estranged father took over with the permission of the Ten. Erina’s grandfather comes to visit Soma to ask him to save his granddaughter and explains that it was her father that developed her God lounge… it’s just that he’s an incredible pecker head and treats Erina like a tool rather than a daughter.
This volume starts with Alice and others breaking Erina out of her house and finding her somewhere to stay… Polar Star! From there the story introduces the new direction of the school which is amazing, due to the conflict it instills. The clubs are all disbanded whether they like it or not and food challenges are a joke because of Eizan. He holds one but bribes the judges so that they don’t even taste the food and declare Eizan, the winner. On top of that, all of the students are being asked to cook one way and one way only. No more innovation, but instead they’ll be polished like fine stones until they all have the same skill level as the top ten students. They have to decide if they’d rather innovate or be given a skill set they normally wouldn’t be able to achieve. It’s an interesting predicament, to say the least. Of course, Eizan takes his revenge on Soma by evicting Polar Star, making another batch of tough decisions for our characters to deal with, while still hiding Erina.
I’m not even going to hint at the best part of this volume. It ends on a cliffhanger so it’s not like it’s worth teasing when I can’t tell you the outcome. At this point, I’m dying to read volume eighteen more than I was dying to read this volume and was practically rabid for this one.
Again, there has been a huge breath of fresh air injected into this series. It could have stayed its course and been fine because that’s what all Shonen stories do for the most part, but this story’s course changes everything at least for a bit. It shows that nothing is safe in this world and reminds you of that fear the school possessed in the early days of the story. I can’t imagine the stress of being in this situation in real life. Do you take the skill set knowing it would help you for the rest of your life or stand your moral ground and be kicked out for wanting to innovate and find your cooking style?
There does seem to be some inkling of real romance between Soma and Erina which I care nothing about while reading. Once the story turns to love, I don’t know if it’ll be able to continue being as brilliant about the food, but we’ll see. I’ve been tricked by this series once now, so I’m not ruling it out.
The artwork, as always looks great. I almost hate talking about the art because there’s nothing to say really. It’s a house style, it works for the story and gives it a flair of personality that other manga wishes it could copy. The art makes it the complete package which is why the story is so damn popular.
I think it’s a few months before this volume is released. I was able to get an advance review copy and gobbled it up instantly, but now I’m stuck waiting for longer for the next one. God, it's going to feel like an eternity, but I can wait. This series is hitting its stride now which is crazy to say on volume seventeen, but it is, and because of that I can’t get enough.
Food Wars! vol. 17
Writer: Yuto Tsukuda
Artist: Shun Saeki
Contributor: Yuki Morisaki
Publisher: Viz Media