Publisher: Viz Media
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Volume 24 of Food Wars continues Soma’s journey to overturn his classmates’ expulsions from Totsuki. With the remaining students being accepting of their fate as tools of the Azami administration, Soma and his allies need all of the support they can garner. The final stage of the advancement exams is unlike any other Totsuki has seen. Taking place on Rebun Island, the rebels challenge Central for their seats and for the return of the students expelled in earlier stages of the exams. Can they win when the odds are so obviously tipped against them?
This volume is a wonderful blend of two generations of Totsuki students uniting to accomplish the same goal. Soma’s team which consists of Erina, Megumi, and Takumi undergo special training with the help of Joichiro, Gin, and Grandpa Nakiri. To get them prepared, Joichiro and Gin separate Soma’s team into two groups that will face off against each other. Through this exercise they have to learn how to cooperate as a team and harness their specialties to contribute to a perfect dish. Team Joichiro falls apart at first due to their leader’s eccentric cooking habits – both Soma and Erina find themselves puzzled by Joichiro’s prep work. Team Gin begins prepping and cooking right away while Soma and Erina are in a panic – they cannot figure out what Joichiro is preparing nor can they step into beat with him and assist as he needs it.
Team Gin moves along smoothly with Megumi building her confidence as she picks up on her team’s needs while using her own talents to propel them forward. Takumi, who has also developed further as a chef immediately falls in line with Gin, preparing ingredients as they need them with his own flare. All of the things they have learned and built upon at Totsuki can be showcased in their cooking with Gin.
It isn’t until almost halfway into the practice that Erina and Soma really understand what they need to do for Jochiro, They both realize that they’re being tested in a big way – Soma realizes he needs to watch his father closely to figure out what he needs and then live up to those expectations. Erina discovers she needs to follow her heart and cook what makes sense to her – cooking alongside Joichiro helps her realize that she needs to go against her father’s training in order to beat him.
Takumi Aldini really has come a long way since we first met him. In this volume he reflects upon his first encounter with Soma and his obnoxious arrogance and unorthodox cooking style. Takumi realizes that he has to break his beliefs on cooking and build a new foundation. To reach his goals he has to rethink his approach to cooking. We really see his struggle and rebirth while he thinks rapidly and adopts appropriately to the needs of Gin.
Megumi finds within herself a new confidence that she hasn’t shown before. Throughout the series she has always questioned her talents and skills without understanding that she has a home at Totsuki. Now that she really has to fight to keep that home, she steps up in a big way and helps Gin prepare a dish at breakneck speed. Megumi has finally transformed into the beautiful butterfly we have been waiting for.
Erina discovers cooking for her own enjoyment for the first time since her father trained her as the divine tongue. Throughout the series she’s been looking for ways to rebel against him and his strict cooking beliefs but never once did she look inside herself for the answer. When she realizes that the other team is plowing ahead, she has to take action. After a few moments of panic and thought, she realizes she has to be as unorthodox as Joichiro. Straying far from her traditional training, she finally gets a nod from her grandfather who wanted her to cook with passion all along.
Soma has the biggest challenge yet – he finally has to serve as a sous chef to the man who has made him the unpredictable and unorthodox chef he is today. Soma is not new to cooking along side his dad; however, that was in a controlled environment with a standard menu for regulars who had specific expectations. All of that is thrown out of the window when Soma has to meet his father’s expectations without a customer in waiting. It is almost as if he gets a taste of his own medicine, having been unpredictable in every aspect of his studies at Totsuki. Now he has to read his father and find a way to sync his cooking so that he can help him finish their team’s dish. He successfully manages but not without a struggle.
This volume emphasizes the friendships that have grown out of need and genuine admiration that these unlikely allies have for each other. In Volume 1, Erina thought Soma’s dish was repulsive which set off a chain of events that would bring her closer to the classmate she hated. Soma’s obsession with making the divine tongue praise his dish helped awaken in her the desire to seek autonomy from Azami Nakiri. Takumi, likewise, became obsessed with being a better chef than Soma. Now all three of them are united to preserve the future of Totsuki and protect it from Azami. Megumi, who didn’t feel like she belonged at Totsuki, has grown as a chef and found within herself the confidence to cook along side anyone. Although this is a foodie manga focused on cooking battles, you can really see the development of the characters and their friendships. Food Wars isn’t just about succeeding as a chef – it’s a true coming of age story about students under truly high-pressure circumstances.
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**This item was provided for review.