By Dustin Cabeal
The amazing thing about the shonen style of storytelling is that something can reach twenty-one volumes and yet the story hasn’t completed a full year. It also makes me wonder how long I’ve been reading Food Wars! for since I started reviewing and reading this series from the start of the trades. Is it any wonder that the dishes have gotten a little boring.
This volume is good, but it’s also one of those unfortunate volumes in which it’s mostly story transition. It’s a weird center point in the story, important things happen, but they can all be summed up easily. There are some good character moments and some great spots, but overall, it’s a familiar and comfortable story. It’s not pushing the envelope just yet because it’s still setting everything up. Erina’s new character turn has been good, but now she’s a bit too much of the focus. Not that it needs to focus on Soma more, but it was just the attention all of the supporting cast members were giving her. Everyone needed a few pages or panels to talk to her, and it became overkill and page filler.
The challenges set out for the resisters is interesting in that they become harder and harder for them to overcome. You know they will overcome them though, and I have to wonder if by all of them learning from Erina, if they’re not conforming their cooking in a different way? Who knows. The volume ends setting up a re-match between Soma and Akria… they’re cooking bear meat. It sounds gross as fuck.
While the next volume looks interesting, it's just that there is a lot of character moments in this volume. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s a necessary evil because you need that to make your supporting cast worth a damn, but at the same time, there didn’t need to be so much in one volume. That and everyone’s starting to sound the same, and I don’t mean the Central sheep, but rather our supporting cast members.
The art remains consistently great. I doubt anyone would deny that this is a good-looking book. The kids have aged some, in some cases too much, but that seems to happen in manga. Sure, they’re almost a year older than before, but they’re all just a little too mature.
There’s more going on to this backstory than we know. I wish it would reveal a bit more instead of developing every character. The story works best when they’re developed in the midst of battles rather than when they’re all hanging out talking. That and some of the supporting characters are dead weight at this point. They’re never going to be a challenge for Soma, and they’re not particularly interesting. The past holds a lot of weight to the story, but we’re just never given enough. Hopefully, that changes and soon.
Food Wars! vol. 21
Story by Yuto Tsukuda
Art by Shun Saeki
Contributor Yuki Morisaki