Publisher: Viz Media
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
With just three left for the final round of the Fall Classic, it’s judgment day for Soma’s cooking. Does his cooking have enough personality that the judges can see his face in the taste? Or will someone else win the Fall Classic? Once the decision is made, the heat has barely died down before Soma and the others are sent off to local restaurants for a new test. Will the students of Totsuki Institute survive in the real world?
Think of Volume 13 as a reboot of the series, in a sense. After 12 volumes of redundancy, the author takes a new approach in this installment. I think a lot of people, myself included, continued to read this series for the food porn. Other than that, I was beginning to think the characters and plot were growing stale. All of that changes when Soma faces his first loss (dude, if you didn’t read it by now, you probably never will so this isn’t a spoiler anymore). This change in the standard FOOD WARS formula is really welcome because this series was becoming really predictable. The author also couldn’t have picked a better time – all of the other shokugeki Soma took part in had high-stakes ranging from expulsion to quitting cooking forever. The Fall Classic had none of this on the line, making it the perfect opportunity for Soma to have his first loss. The loss is a good thing for Soma as it humbles him a bit and helps him realize the path he needs to follow to reach his goals.
The second half of the volume focuses on a new challenge – internships at various restaurants. They are paired off in groups you wouldn’t expect and surprisingly, this brings out a new way to look at the main cast. It turns out Erina isn’t as callous as she seems, Megumi is more competent than she thinks she is, and Soma has to learn how to work in a team. The students being sent off into the real world to real work sites with difficult bosses, frustrated chefs, and angered customers is a nice change in the formula.
After a few volumes of staleness, I really enjoyed volume 13. All of the characters I thought I knew show new sides that make you second-guess your judgment. It turns out the ones you thought were selfish aren’t exactly all they seem. Soma isn’t as flawless as we were led to believe, and Totsuki isn’t just an endless stream of cooking battles.
If you were losing hope in this series, forget about that and read this volume.
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**This item was provided for review.