By Dustin Cabeal
Okay, that cover is just weird. You have to read the volume to understand it and even then… it’s weird. But hey, nineteen volumes later it’s probably hard to come up with covers that are super interesting and different without relying on T&A. Let’s all just be happy that it’s a deer and not a woman dressed as a deer because we know how that would look.
Before blowing up the story and structure of the school, there was a formula being developed for the story. Every volume or so Soma would get into a shokugeki with someone, and we as the reader would be left on the edge of our chairs wondering how he’d make it out this time. Well, the story is going to this more and more, and while I don’t hate it, it does end up leaving the rest of the volume feeling a bit hollow. Sure, we get to see Ryo take on a Central goon, but that sadly goes as I expected it to in the end.
Even worse, every student that’s a main character seems to be able to trash talk the Dean without any consequences. This time it’s Alice in front of the entire school practically. Maybe there are consequences coming, but right now all it’s doing is devaluing Dean Nakiri as a villain. Which is a shame because he came in so strong, but perhaps too strong in that he had nowhere else to go but down.
The brightest spot of the volume comes towards the end in which the first chair (as seen on the cover) is forced to teach a class when a teach resigns at the last minute. He asks for an assistant, and while everyone else is debating the opportunity, Soma is already standing in the front ready to cook. While this part is great, it’s what happens next that elevates the story and saves the volume. It’s yet another instance of “How will he get out of this one.” Barring that no tomfoolery happens and Soma is allowed to finish the challenge the outcome will have interesting consequences in the next volume.
The writing is still really good, but Yuto Tsukuda is relying on this new formula for this arc. For now, it’s working okay, but the holes are starting to show more and more. Tsukuda has been full of surprises before, so it’s not concerning at the moment, but time will tell.
As for the artwork. Well, there’s nothing new left to say about it. At this point, the story is focused on designing characters that are different from what we’ve seen in the past and making them visually memorable. My gripe with the food is that it still looks separated and different from the rest of the world, but that has been the style of the series for nineteen volumes now. Otherwise, it’s hard to dislike the art on Food Wars! because it’s so damn beautiful.
In looking back at this overall volume of Food Wars! there’s very little that happens to the story. Nothing is driven forward, and instead, it’s mostly food battles. This is bound to happen more often than not given the title and structure of the series, but it hasn’t left me as excited for the next volume as it usually does when I’m done reading Food Wars! Unfortunately, I’m not reviewing it based on excitement, but rather what’s on the page, and it’s another solid entry into the series. We’ll have to wait and see how long that holds true.
Food Wars! vol. 19
Story: Yuto Tsukuda
Artist: Shun Saeki
Contributor: Yuki Morisaki
Publisher: Viz Media