By Dustin Cabeal
The last volume had a good setup for what will be the concluding arc of this segment of the series, which is a mouthful, but that’s the only way to put it. Soma and his dad have put everything on the line, with Daddy dearest agreeing to join the Evil Dean of the institute should his son/side lose in a group battle. It's drama at its finest.
And while we’d love to spend an entire volume with Soma and his dad (at least I would), there are too many characters to develop and build up before the final battle. Including Aldini who gets the classic “haircut of change” as we see what he did during all those other story arcs, we lost track of him in. It’s welcomed because he was getting boring just yelling in the background “Don’t forget me… oops, I mean our challenge!” We see this intercut between a practice battle with Joichiro and Gin leading the two different teams. The former dean sets out the rules and choice of the competition; no one can talk. Meaning the kids have to guess at what their leader is doing which proves to be interesting as one side fuses together and makes the dish properly, while the other side, and you can guess who’s who deconstructs the dish. It exposes the kid's weaknesses to each other, so they know what they need to work on.
The rules of the challenge are laid out, which includes all of the seats of the ten. The scene itself is pretty dumb as they’re all lined up across from each other with train tracks between them. Then the story thankfully jumps forward to the event and focuses on Soma’s cooking, while going into his enemies background story. She makes noodles and shit, and he intentionally picks noodles and shit. Now, I’m not so ignorant to think that the story isn’t going to backtrack and show everything we missed in that missing month, but at least it’ll be intercut with other shit, and that’s tolerable.
Food Wars is consistent. The story beats are predictable, but not in a way that’s tiring or bad. You forget that you’re in a heavily laced formula until one of the beats hits or the volume draws to a close. The characters continue to develop, but at this point, it’s obvious to the reader where each character needs to grow, but Yuto Tsukuda is taking his sweet ass time getting there. For instance, from the onset, it’s been clear what Erina needed to accomplish with her father, but it took roughly nine volumes to spark that change. To put it another way, it’s like someone taking an interest in running, training, practicing, signing up for a race and putting their foot on the line for the first time. We’re just to the line, and the race will be over before we know it.
The art continues to be consistent as well. They abandoned making these teens look like teens long ago. Now without a towering adult, they all look gigantic, but it’s the look of the book. I did find it strange that when the group, in the beginning, tasted each other’s food only the girl’s clothes ripped off, while the men just disrobed. I get that part of it was fan service, but it would have been hilarious to see everyone’s clothes ripping off in the same visual manner. It looked strange having it be different based on a character’s gender.
This is a solid volume full of typical Food War moments, but not in a toothache kind of way. Sometimes there is a lot of filler in these stories, but I’m hoping the next volume will be like this one and have great moments, stay true to itself, but also pick up the damn pace. If they can stop slapping extra garnish on the plate, we’ll be in for some great battles in the coming volumes.
Food Wars! vol. 24