By Dustin Cabeal
Well if this wasn’t the volume, I was fucking waiting for! Since I first started with this series, the biggest question I had has always revolved around Soma’s dad. As more small details emerged, it only made him more and more curious to the reader. With this latest arc, it became clear that whatever Azami was up to involved Joichiro.
There’s a logical conclusion to the Soma/Akira fight. It was settled in the last volume, but for some reason, it drifts a little into the first part of this volume. Soma and Akira settle things, Akira’s guardian slaps him and tells him to go be a fucking kid, and Akira gets expelled for losing to Soma. Additionally, everyone else other than the three with Soma, lose their fight and get expelled. It’s looking pretty fucking grim for the gang, but Soma decides that if they take the majority of the seats on the Council of Ten, they can undo everything and get everyone back in. They approach Azami, and big surprise, Joichiro, and the former chairman show up and help throw down the gauntlet.
This cues up the backstory for Joichiro as told by the three dudes it’s about. The trade-off in the narration keeps it from being dull and bias. It gives insight that perhaps Joichiro doesn’t have or want to tell Soma. There is one mystery that remains, who the fuck is Soma’s mom and who the fuck was Joichiro so in love with that it helped his cooking?
The tragic part of this story is that there is an incredible father and son story that is horribly neglected because it would detract from the main story. Maybe one-day Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki will go back and tell the story of Soma’s childhood because it would be interesting to read with the knowledge of where the story goes. Seeing Joichiro raise Soma to be different from himself and yet still end up putting him on the same path… is just something that becomes more and more intriguing as this story goes on.
Aside from the backstory, there isn’t much regarding character development for the main cast. There’s plenty of development for the old Polar students, but if you expect anyone else to have more than a few lines of dialogue, then drop those expectations now. It also seems that we’re in for another entire volume of studying and building up Soma and the crew. While that was okay once, doing it again and so soon, is a bit of a drag. Now, granted regarding how this manga is actually created and delivered, its likely been over the course of a year or more, but for trade readers, the gap isn’t big enough. Hopefully, it’s more interesting than putting Erina in sexy teacher outfits because that was weak sauce.
The artwork continues to be good. It’s not great anymore, but it’s good. The kids don’t look like kids. It was better during the flashbacks, so there’s a chance for improvement, but we’ll see. The volume was at it’s best when flashing between the three men as adults and teenagers. They were all instantly recognizable, but not because they were rocking the same look. Saeki and contributor Yuki Morisaki just did a hell of a job making them look like teenagers and gave them recognizable facial features.
This volume is the one you’ve likely been waiting for a very long time to arrive. It’s here. Soak up that backstory and then dread how this is all going to go down because it might end up being brutal… also, brutally long. That’s the part I’m not looking forward to because it feels as if this showdown could last years. Rest while you can.
Food Wars! vol. 23
Story by Yuto Tsukuda
Art by Shun Saeki
Contributor Yuki Morisaki