Publisher: Viz Media
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
So much happens in this volume that it’s incredibly important to read it – even if you want to understand what is happening in season 3 of the anime. The food festival competition steps into overdrive and Tsukuda introduces a new villain. While we may have spent the series hating Erina, now we can only find ourselves sympathizing with her. I’m a little disappointed that we are now turning the tables on Erina, who spent the entire series turning her nose up at Soma while fantasizing about how she will seek his father’s approval(and of course she doesn’t know the man she admires is Soma’s dad). Unfortunately that is the direction Tsukuda is headed in and the cover does this volume justice. Yes, the cover is creepy. Even worse, the man on the cover is Erina’s father.
The artwork in this volume is very sexualized, which isn’t atypical of a series that disrobes a grandpa whenever he eats something orgasmic. What makes it a bit cringey in this volume is the fact that Erina is shown in various situations where her father destroys her love of food and forces her to develop the divine tongue that the institute so proud of. I definitely felt bad for Erina, especially when we get flashbacks of when she enjoyed simple food that wasn’t intended to please a divine tongue.
At the end of the festival, we see the return of Erina’s father, whom we learned was exiled from the institute and forbidden to return. Somehow he finds his way back and we can see how villainous he is because the fear Erina has for him completely disrupts her ability to function. Soma, on the other hand, serves as a great comic relief because he has no idea who the pale-faced snob is and continues on as if her father is just another ordinary person. Unfortunately, things go a step further and Erina’s father sends her grandfather into retirement. We now find everyone facing a new era at the Totsuki institute with a seemingly cruel man in charge, who has the blessings of the Council of Ten.
Some parts of this volume were definitely difficult to read. I wish the relationship between Erina and her father was portrayed differently, but I suppose in a series where the enjoyment of food is represented by sexual imagery anything else would feel out of character. Thankfully Soma remains oblivious to powerful people and uncomfortable situations. Although he is maturing as a cook, he still remains fairly clueless in social situations. This is something I think all readers going through this volume can appreciate. It was definitely needed here. With the change of staff at Totsuki, my interest in the series is doubly renewed. Every so often Tsukuda throws a wrench into the system to shake up the monotony that comes with endless cooking competitions. Now you have to continue reading to see where the series is going to go.
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**This item was provided for review.