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Shokugeki no Soma season 1 07 March 2016

2015 cooking story, shounen manga adaptation in 24 episodes: AniDB, vt "Food Wars". Yukihira Sōma works at his father's diner, then finds himself sent to an élite cooking school: not only is it tough to get in, but only one in ten graduate.

As an outsider, he's at the bottom of the pecking order, and starts to work his way up. In fact this is basically a sports anime in the shape of its story; it's just that the sport is cooking. The way this is done is to have a sequence of cooking duels ("shokugeki"), either directly to impress an instructor at the school or as a form of conflict against another student.

It's also a show where people casually say things like

Shinomiya's Terrine of Nine Vegetables is a dish meant to savor the flavor of fresh vegetables, but this recette focuses on the flavor unique to vegetables prepared for preservation. While they're both vegetable terrines, one showcases the flavor of freshness, and the other the umami born of maturation. They approach vegetables as an ingredient from completely different angles.

and nobody ever giggles. But it's also a show where a profound taste experience (which happens at least a couple of times per episode) is accompanied by (censored) nudity and orgasmic squeaks, from both female and male characters. And there's an image implying tentacle rape when someone eats a particularly unpleasant squid dish.

In short, this show has no dignity, and doesn't want it. I'd personally have preferred a bit less of the blatant fanservice, and indeed more time spent with each of fewer characters rather than constantly introducing new ones, but that's often the shounen manga way.

There's no real structure to the battles, which puts this below something like Hajime no Ippo: there Ippo had a plan for each boxing match, a particular thing to try or failure to work against, whereas here there's just a very loose theme and entirely subjective judgement of the results. I gather that in the manga the recipes are given at the end of each volume; not so here, though to be fair some of them are far too complicated to be taken seriously anyway. Still, at least there's an appreciation of the quality of good basic food as well as the top-flight fancy stuff.

The first few episodes are a bit rough, but once we've met the main cast around episode 4 things settle down a bit into a series I rather liked. A sequel is expected, though no broadcast date has been announced.

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