WARNING: Spoilers Below!
The semifinals are finally here, and volume 11 of Food Wars delivers both rounds excellently.
First up is Soma Yukihara vs. Subaru Mimasaka. The copycat chef (Mimasaka) toppled fan-favorite Takumi Alidini in the last volume, adding the Italian chef’s prized family knife to his collection. Mimasaka is a fearsome foe due to his effective strategy: by replicating his opponents dish, step by step, followed by a signature “twist” that takes it over the top, he has won 99 previous Shokugeki matches. The early chapters show Yukihara preparing for the match by having the reluctant Nakiri perform a taste-test and provide him with feedback. Though her comments aren’t particularly helpful, Yukihara has what he needs to move forward, and goes into the challenge without fear.
Put simply, the battle between Yukihara and Mimasaka lives up to the hype. While it’s easy to cast Mimasaka as a one-dimensional villain, the battle and its aftermath certainly gives you a fresh angle from which to view the copycat-chef.
Though Mimasaka certainly throws Yukihara for a loop, the collected protagonist emerges on top after revealing an array of delectable meats that he infuses into his beef stew with the skill and finesse expected of a top-tier chef. Defeating Mimasaka, he returns the collected knives to their respective owners, with the exception of Alidini, who insists he will win the knife back fair and square through a Shokugeki battle.
While Mimasaka is ready to leave the school forever, Yukihara convinces him to stay and challenges him to get even better. While this theme is fairly prevalent in shonen manga as a whole (protagonist winning villains over to his side), the added complexity of family backgrounds within the restaurant industry lends a richer story and deeper motivations than your typical “You beat me in combat, now I respect you for your strength.” theme.
Moving on from the Yukihara/Mimasaka battle, we take a look at the other two top competitors: Ryo Kurokiba and Akira Hayama. While the first battle was a lot of fun, I actually enjoyed this second shokugeki much more, namely because I didn’t know what to expect.
Maybe it’s just me, but I really like Ryo as a character. His wild-child archetype and white-hot competitive streak makes him stand out when compared to a lot of the other, more reserved, characters. At the same time, despite Hayama’s cool and aloof attitude, you can definitely see the ferocity in their competition with one another.
The back-and-forth between the characters is executed perfectly – drawing you in and once again making you curse Tsukuda for conceptualizing these mouth-watering dishes when we can’t smell or taste them! The battle concludes with a shocker: after a breathless match, the judges are unable to make a decision on the Kurokiba/Hayama shokugeki. So, at the suggestion of judge Dojima, the fall classic will have its first three-way final!
The three-way final ramps up the hype to the next volume as Yukihara, Hayama and Kurokiba prepare for a battle royale for the top spot!
Volume 11 was an excellent installment in the Food Wars series. After the sluggishness of last volume, it made up for that and then some as it prepares us for the thrilling conclusion to the fall classic!
Volume 12 will be out June 7th, we can’t wait!
What did you think of volume 11? Let us know in the comments!