Publisher: Viz Media
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
A reign of terror has taken hold of the Totsuki Institute and with it, a revolution with a clear goal in mind. Newly appointed Dean Azami Nakiri seeks to sanitize the students of Totsuki of any individuality in their cooking. Anything not approved by the elite student council is banned. Is this the end of the line for the students at Totsuki?
In the previous volume of Food Wars we learned a lot about the Nakiri family – particularly about Azami’s banishment from Totsuki because of his harsh methods of developing Erina’s divine tongue. Because of his negligence as both a father and a cook, he was banned from Totsuki Institute indefinitely. This volume showcases the revolutionary changes he brings to the elite culinary school, and none of them seem fair or friendly to the pursuit of knowledge. On the administrative side, Azami closes all of the cooking clubs and declares that all students will be given a very specific curriculum to follow. They will no longer need to worry about finding their own style or creating new dishes. Everything the studentry learns will be approved by the elite council. Azami seems to think the creative freedom granted to Totsuki students is holding the school back from reaching a higher status. Azami even finds a way to nullify the Shokugeki so that students don’t even have the freedom to fight back through cooking competition. The reforms at the institute are truly frightening.
On the other end of things, Azami holds Erina hostage so that she may be of use to him for taste testing. He plans to use her divine tongue to gain an advantage in the realm of the restaurateurs. Of course, this grinds to a halt when Alice helps Erina escape to safety in the Polaris dorm where everyone is mortified by stories of Azami’s
treatment. While the dwellers of Polaris are determined to protect Erina, they can do so for only so long before they have to worry about their own futures. Even Polaris, a dorm facility that is autonomous from the institute is not safe from Azami’s outright ban against anything unique.
I am not surprised that Erina had an abusive childhood that caused severe changes in her personality. What bothers me is that the author would explain Erina’s tsundere casting with an abusive childhood. She grew up with a shitty childhood, so at least remove her from the tsundere archetype a little bit and give her a depth that isn’t dependent on familial relations. While I want to sympathize with Erina because she seemed like a genuinely open minded child, I feel like Tsukuda is taking the easy road to justify how she socializes with others. I also see this as a way to get Soma closer to Erina, since now he needs to swoop in as the knight in shining armor and protect her. I predict we will see a lot of this in forthcoming volumes. At this time, everyone is powerless while the institutional structure at Totsuki realigns with all of the power up top.
Erina’s brief time at Polaris is funny and heartwarming. Everyone is truly concerned about her. Of course since she is in Polaris they all use the opportunity to take advantage of the divine tongue. At least this time she is in the comfort of a pair of pajamas and surrounded by friendly people her own age.
This volume of Food Wars brings back a lot of characters that make up the student body of Totsuki. It’s nicely done because they are all in cameos that show how the dean’s new policies directly impact their academic lives, while also showing how they have been developing as students under the previous freedoms granted to them by the old dean. We especially see this with Ikumi who is outraged that the Don society is being closed. It looks as if civil war is about to break out between the students and the governing body of Totsuki. We don’t actually see a war in volume 17, but we do see the beginnings of one on the horizon. It is apparent that the students are going to fight back – of course Azami and the council have a plan for hushing the masses…. by rigging shokugekis to deter people from speaking up. The message is clear – anyone who questions the new dean will be expelled.
Soma has become significantly more stubborn and determined as the series progresses. It is obvious that the rigged shokugeki was intended to deflate his spirits. Despite this, Soma puts himself on the line to protect Polaris. Even though the Shokugeki is fixed and his expulsion is guaranteed he steps up. Of course, Eizan is so underhanded that he uses the shokugeki as an excuse to move up Polaris’s eviction date. Fortunately, Soma’s brazen decision infused everyone at the dorm with courage.
This volume of Food Wars did a wonderful job bringing the students together for a common cause. “Central” the new governing student body has become an enemy of the passionate young minds who attend Totsuki. The first portion of the volume shows the reactions to the new dean and his rules. The middle is filled with reflections of joyous times on campus making new dishes. The final half reveals the fatal flaws of “Central” and it’s inability to capture the minds of the students. This volume ends with Polaris defending itself against goons sent to evict its residents while Soma finds a way to get Eizan and his bought judges to taste his dish. Of course, the results of both are left waiting for us in the next book.
I enjoyed this volume of Food Wars thoroughly and found its pace significantly different from the rest of the series. It’s a good change to a series that follows a specific formula. With previous cliffhangers, I assumed Soma was going to win the shokugeki. Now that all of the rules have been broken and replaced, I am not so sure this time. Will Soma win? I hope so. He has to win. Do I feel 100% certain as I did before? No, so now it’s time to move on to volume 18.
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**This item was NOT provided for review.