By Dustin Cabeal
While the return of Erina’s father has provided some great moments, the overall story seems to be lacking a real overall cohesiveness. There have been plenty of loopholes for Soma and his gang to skid by, be it Erina’s father letting her stay at Polar Star or Soma’s challenges. It hasn’t been all bad, but there have been some languid moments.
This volume thankfully skids past a lot of the dullness but seems to set up some more for the next volume. The last volume left us with Soma and Eishi having an official/unofficial battle. The stakes are that if Soma wins, he gets the first chair if he loses, he becomes Eishi’s assistant at central. The battle is fascinating because we get to see Soma create a new French dish that qualifies as French. Since wanting to find his face in his cooking, Soma’s been a real treat for the story. It was getting quite dull seeing his gimmick cooking, but not that he’s embraced finding himself, it’s made all the dishes stronger and more curious to explore.
I won’t spoil the outcome of the battle, but it should be evident that there’s going to be a twist. A third route if you will. After that, the story focuses on Erina and getting her out of her damn funk. Her character development has been stale since learning that the chef she idolizes is Soma’s dad. This leads to Soma cooking for her and Soma reminding her of the type of cook she wanted to be when she was younger. It was a significant development for her, but also for Soma as it reveals so much more of his character to the reader.
The pacing and story developments in this volume are lovely. While you wouldn’t be able to start reading the series here, you would be given a lot of insight into the story. That and the cooking slows down. Due to all the spring and fall challenges, we saw a lot of dishes, and after a while, it stopped being impressive. It was just food that we’ll never eat.
As for the artwork, it continues to be very strong. The kids are still looking older and older with each new volume, but it’s manga so what can you do? There is also a bit of fan service in this volume regarding Erina, so fans of hers are sure to enjoy that. Overall though, the art had a lovely balance of humor, sincerity and looked very detailed.
Of the current arc of Food Wars! this is one of the strongest. Not just because the reveals are significant, but because of what they mean for the characters. Much like how Soma’s cooking needs to grow and develop, so too does his role in the story. Both grow in this volume making it one worth picking up.
Food Wars! vol. 20
Story by Yuto Tsukuda
Art by Shun Saeki
Contributor Yuki Morisaki