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Soma Yukihira’s old man runs a small family restaurant in the less savory end of town. Aiming to one day surpass his father’s culinary prowess, Soma hones his skills day in and day out until one day, out of the blue, his father decides to enroll Soma in a classy culinary school!
Food Wars is, in a word, weird. The first thing you have to know about the comic is that it isn’t exactly safe for work. A large part of the humour is based around the characters reactions to food, and 99% of the time these reactions are sexual in nature. The dialogue and imagery reflect tropes of pornographic manga, so if that’s not your thing then you may find Food Wars hard to swallow (see what I did there?). If you think you can handle it then prepare to brace yourself every time someone eats something, because the next page is going to be wild and extremely bizarre. Examples include bathing in a hot springs and seeing a gorilla, eating octopus tentacles in peanut butter and imagining tentacles are (sensually) wrapping around you, and plenty of conveniently censored nudity. The fan service is very tongue-in-cheek, and outside of the tasting scenes the manga restrains itself, but when the fan service hits it hits you hard.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s focus on the plot. It’s a pretty typical sort of story – boy dreams of becoming better than his mentor; boy enters a school focused on his talent; despite his commoner background he is more talented than anyone else; we think he’s lost but actually he’s made it in! The setup is by the numbers, spiced up (see what I did there this time?) by the fact his special talent is cooking. In particular, he can make great meals out of the most common ingredients or most unusual combinations. It’s a tried and true recipe (see what I… Nevermind.) with a twist, and it’ll be interesting to see how it maintains interest in future volumes.
The characters themselves aren’t particularly different either. The main character, Soma, is somewhat refreshing in how straight forward he is and the scene where he introduces himself to his new classmates only to call them all stepping stones, only to worry afterwards about whether he sounded nervous or not goes a long way to show his personality. He’s not exactly a stuck up guy, he’s just confident in his abilities and is very blunt. That can’t be said for the leading lady, Erina, who is extremely stuck up. She possesses a palate that allows her to taste where people have gone wrong in their cooking, and she imagines vivid scenarios to accompany her impression of the food she eats(such as the aforementioned gorilla hot spring). She’s the examiner for the elite cooking school Soma wants to get in, and she’s known to fail every examinee. She also has a curvaceous figure, which is oh so coincidentally convenient as she falls victim to quite a few fan service scenes (did I mention the hot springs?). There are other characters introduced, such as Soma’s extremely talented but rather irresponsible father and a meek girl who only just scraped in to the school.
The art is quite lovely, with varied character design and a talent at drawing all things cheesecake (both the food and the fan service sort). As of the first volume the main cast are highly distinguishable and the artist doesn’t shy away from drawing a wide mix of people, such as pretty girls, assorted teenage boys, old men and muscular body guards. However, the females seem to all have the same face, and share similar body types (boobs boobs boobs!).
The food is well drawn and will probably make you hungry. Luckily, there are recipes at the end of the book, so you too can be a cooking super star! How hard the recipes are I cannot say, nor do I know if any of the recipes taste as good as the manga implies (will my clothes rip off if I eat it?), but it’s a nice touch.
If you like shows like Iron Chef, Master Chef or basically any show containing the words “Chef” or “Kitchen”, you might enjoy this quirky dish. Likewise, if you want a weird little comic that doesn’t take itself seriously, give this a taste.
However, if you don’t like to have fan service shoved in your face every chapter, it may be better to find a different cooking manga (there seem to be quite a few out there!).