I like food so I thought I’d give Food Wars! a try. I thought the first volume was okay, but it didn’t blow me away. Soma’s family owns a diner, and Soma’s number one goal in life is to be a better cook than his dad. I love this storyline; it kept me reading The Prince of Tennis for a long time (and I need to catch up on that one!). I’m not sure why I find this trope so appealing, but it is one of my favorites. The protagonist working to hone his skills, hoping to one day surpass the person who taught him almost everything he knows, yeah, I really like that.
Food Wars! Volume 1 ends the competition between father and son very quickly. Soma’s dad decides he’s going to sharpen his cooking skills, and he leaves Soma with hardly a word. Off he goes, we discover, jet-setting around the globe, creating fabulous dishes at 5-star establishments. Soma, in the meantime, has been enrolled in a prestigious culinary school. The only hitch? He has to pass a cooking test, or he flunks out of school before it even starts. His judge is fellow student Erina Nakiri, and she’s one tough critic. From a blue-blooded family of in the gourmet food biz, she has already created a name for herself in the foodie world. Noted for her incredibly discerning sense of taste, she has no patience for anything less than the best. Unfortunately for Soma, that includes him. When Erina discovers his background is from a humble family diner, she has nothing but contempt for him and his cooking.
I think the thing I enjoyed best about Food Wars! is Soma’s personality. He’s brash and outspoken, but he doesn’t mean to come across as a douche, though he often does. He just wants everyone to appreciate all kinds of food, especially meals prepared with less expensive ingredients. He’s also very confident in his own abilities, having worked in the family restaurant since he was a small boy. He makes himself a target the first day of school by sounding like an obnoxious jerk, making a speech in front of the incoming class that is cringe worthy in its arrogance. Since everybody has a bone to pick with him now, he suddenly has dozens of classmates rooting for, and even actively participating in efforts to see him fail. Most of the students come from wealthy families, with esteemed backgrounds in gourmet food industries, and they don’t want his kind there.
Volume 2 introduces a parcel of eccentric personalities for Soma to interact with, as well as his first cooking battle. If he loses, he’s agreed to pack his bags and leave school for good. His opponent is a genius with beef, and since her family has made a fortune selling grade A cuts of the stuff, he probably shouldn’t have challenged her to a cook-off using meat as the main ingredient. That’s what I like about Soma; he feels so strongly about an issue that he jumps to accept any challenge, without having the faintest idea or plan of how he’s actually going to win. It’s always Ready! Fire! Aim! with him, with very entertaining results.
So far, I am enjoying this series. The drama of the food wars is fun, and the descriptions of the food makes me drool. I hate cooking, but even I’m tempted to try some of the recipes included because they sound so darned tasty. I have my usual gripes while reading a comic aimed primarily at boys, and I’m not sure how these 14 year old girls can have boobs the size of their heads, but then I remember that I am not the target market. It’s still fun anyway.
About the book:
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! Can Soma really cut it in a school that prides itself on a 10 percent graduation rate? And can he convince the beautiful, domineering heiress of the school that he belongs there at all?!
Leaving home for the first time in his young life, Soma moves into the Polaris Dormitory—a place run by an old crone and filled with crazy and eccentric students! Barely settled in, Soma quickly finds himself in one of Tohzuki’s legendary cooking duels—a shokugeki! Who will his very first opponent be?
Review copies provided by publisher