Blu-ray Review: Food Wars!: Shokugeki No Soma – Season 1

Animatsu Entertainment continues to push boundaries by offering a range of anime to the masses and today’s latest offering is of no exception; as it is about food! Naturally we are talking about Animatsu Entertainment’s Blu-ray release of Food Wars!: Shokugeki No Soma – Season 1 but is this release any good and more importantly does the series fill our hunger? Well let us find out!

Synopsis:

Shokugeki no Soma centers on Yukihira Soma, a middle school student who is determined to surpass his father’s culinary skills. One day, his father decides to close down their family restaurant and hone his skills in Europe. Before leaving he enrolls Soma in an elite culinary school that is extremely difficult to enter with a graduation rate of only 10 percent. Will Souma be able to improve his skills, or will the kitchen prove to be too hot?

Our View:

If you weren’t hungry before, then you will be after watching one episode of this exquisite series. Adapted from Yuto Tsukuda’s shonen manga of the same name, otherwise known as Food Wars!: Shokugeki No Soma, is a series that sees the seemingly average Soma Yukihira enrolled at a exceptional high-school by his father in a bid to improve his already impressive cooking skills. Naturally this is only part of the story being told and as we see the episode numbers increase we soon learn more about what this ‘exceptional’ high-school has to offer. This isn’t no ordinary school and fights are not settled with words or with fists; but with cooking skills.

Featuring twenty-four episodes spread across three Blu-ray discs this Animatsu Entertainment release of Food Wars!: Shokugeki No Soma contains the complete first season; A series that sees Soma Yukihira leave the comfort of the family diner at the request of his father in order to attend the Totsuki Culinary Academy. Naturally there is more to this story than becoming a ‘better chef’ and as such this first season is separated into three distinguished segments; namely the introductory arc, the training camp and the fall selection war – each of which other a different perspective and sense of purpose.

The first story arc, hence forth known as the Introductory Arc, begins by introducting Soma Yukihira and his impressive cooking skills at the family diner of which upon transferring to the academy transcends to attract new friends and rivals around campus. This selection of episodes focuses more on comedy with key characters, namely Soma and newly introduced class-mate Megumi Tadokoro, being paired together to create dishes with Soma being cool and calculated with Megumi acting flushed and scared due to her personality and fear of expulsion. This friendship builds between the two characters, so much so that Megumi begins to idolize Soma; however elsewhere other students begin to notice Soma’s skills and soon start to see him as a rival. All of these elements build up into the second arc of the series; the training camp.

During this arc the tone of the series shifts from a comedic element to intensity with all of the students required to produce food that satisfies head chefs from across the globe; with those unable to do so being expelled from school. This particular arc builds upon the foundations created in the introductory arc with Soma supporting Megumi in an ‘unofficial’ food war and each person fighting (so to speak) for survival at the school. This arc also introduces new enemies, in the form of Ikumi, Hisako, Alice and Ryo with each offering their own personal style of cooking. Although this ‘training camp’ provides intensity it still manages to provide a few laughs; most of which involve are main group of characters from the Dormitory that Soma resides in.

The final arc of this first season of Food Wars builds upon this intensity once again to deliver the ‘Fall Selection’ show down. This arc sees sixty hand-picked-students battling against each other with their cooking skills in order to make it to the top eight of their year. Unlike past events this story arc sees some character development from Soma with him researching different cooking methods and receiving inspiration from other people. When all is said and done however this arc is just one big cooking session that is spread across multiple episodes; and that includes the judge’s vote which sees three or four characters cooking per episode being voted upon – with Soma left till last for added effect.

Calling Food Wars! Shokugeki No Soma good is an understatement; but what it at excels at can also be its downfall. Sure enough it is fun to watch the numerous characters working together and compete against each other to become the top student at the school; but the excessive descriptions about how the food was prepared, and in turn the reviews from judges, as well as the blatant fan service leave a sour taste in my mouth.  Luckily this only becomes tiresome during the final arc of the story, whereby every main character within the series explains how they created the food and in turn receive reviews from the judges; but it’s the fact that it fills majority of each episode means that it quickly becomes tiresome.

Overlooking this fact however the series does build up an entertaining story with characters constantly evolving and adapting the situation on screen; most of which relate to Megumi. Soma may be the main character, and in turn the prodigy, but it’s mostly the shy and sheltered Megumi who develops her personality and skills – while Soma himself just ‘magical’ excels at everything; that is until the final arc at least.

Some Fun, Some Food it’s all inside this meal of a series – as a certain fast food restaurant may say – and that’s exactly what’s presented in Food Wars.

Extras:

Those looking for deserts in the bonus features will be disappointed to find that the only offerings are textless songs and trailers for other ‘Sentai Filmworks’ licensed shows. Although this may be the case the ‘textless songs’ on offer do cover the entire series and as such you’ll find over 30 minutes of both opening and closing songs.

The trailers on the other hand are for other Sentai Filmworks licensed shows but interestingly all of them – with the exception for Girls Und Panzer: Der Film – have been licensed by Animatsu / Manga UK; so at least the trailers relate the distributor (so to speak).

For something as informative and detailed as Food Wars it is slightly disappointing that behind the scenes materials were not available, even from a US perspective, as it would have been exceedingly interesting to learn about the creation of the translation and dub (due to all of the food styles); but alas that is not to be.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50 x3
Region: B
Running Time:  3:51:36 (Disc 1 & 2), 2:32:54 (Disc 3)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD 2.0 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Food Wars! Shokugeki No Soma is delightfully fun with a strong sense of purpose and a wide range of characters; but sadly it does occasional fall down with its unneeded fan-service and excessive descriptions of the food. Naturally this is all part of the charm but at times it can become overwhelming and – even more so – a bit boring if you are just interested in the story itself and not the food.

The story itself revolves around Soma Yukihira, a high-school student who is forcibly (so-to-speak) removed from his home by his father in order to study at Totsuki Culinary Academy; a school designed for creating high-class chefs. As part of this story we see Soma adapt to the situation by meeting new friends, creating new rivals and creating the best dishes with the food available. As the series moves on we see Soma take on both the training camps and selection trials in order to prove that he has what it takes to survive in the war; but alas a deeper story has still yet to be found – but at least it looks good.

Digger further into the core of Food Wars doesn’t show a developing story, especially when – except for the occasional time – we don’t see Soma learning to be a better cook; but it does deliver some fun and a lot of delicious looking food. Speaking of delicious this Blu-ray release looks exceptional with the only disappointing aspects being a small subtitle error (an error which sees white/yellow text appear black during episode 24) and a mediocre English Dub; but as the Dub is produced by Sentai Filmworks it is to be expected. Naturally the Japanese audio track provides a more authentic experience – especially when it comes to discussion of food (which is pretty much everything!).

Food Wars looks great, tastes great and is enjoyable to watch but at the same time I won’t be rushing back for a second serving anytime soon; instead I will wait for a completely different course in the form of its second season.

Score: review-stars-4

Food Wars!: Shokugeki No Soma – Season 1 will be available on Blu-ray from the 28th August 2017.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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