Souma is a teenager who loves to cook, and desires to surpass his father, the owner of a popular restaurant. He constantly has cooking contests with his father, but has lost every single one. He also likes experimenting with crazy dishes, such as squid in peanut butter, which consistently turn out disgusting.
Souma anticipates his graduation from middle school, after which he plans to study cooking at the family restaurant. In the meantime, he fends off an aggressive realtor hoping to buy the land and demolish the restaurant to build apartments. She goes as far as trashing the restaurant’s sign and spoiling its meat to obtain her goal. In retaliation, he challenges her – if he can serve her a satisfying meal, she’ll leave the restaurant alone for good. Using the meat he had purchased for his own meal, he produces a delicious bacon-and-potato roast of his own recipe. She finds it unbearably delicious, and promises not to come after the restaurant again.
However, Souma’s triumph seems to have been for naught. His father announces that he will be closing the restaurant for the next several years, in order to take a cooking job alongside an old friend of his. Souma’s father encourages him to attend cooking school for the next few years, in order to hone his skills before the restaurant re-opens. Souma is confident in his skills and believes that the school will be easy, only to learn that it is an elite academy with a graduation rate of less than 10%.
Man, was this one of the strangest anime that I have ever seen! I went into “Shokugeki no Souma” expecting a typical shounen anime story with a cooking rather than fighting or sports theme. While there’s definitely some of that present – Souma’s hot-blooded personality, his desire to surpass his father, and the intense, fast-paced cooking scenes – there was a lot more that I wasn’t expecting, not all of it good.
First, the pacing of this episode was kind of all over the place. The first scene with the cooking contest between Souma and his dad was rather amusing, especially their argument about who could make a more disgusting dish. The remainder of the episode was largely taken up by Souma’s ‘battle’ against the real estate agent, culminating in his triumph and her defeat at the hands of his delicious meal. I was expecting the episode to end there – the twist of his father closing the restaurant and Souma enrolling in cooking school came out of nowhere at the tail end, and was incredibly rushed. It also felt like it cheapened the rest of the episode’s plot – while his ‘combat’ against the realtor showed his hot-blooded personality, skill in creating his own recipes, and devotion to cooking, it also ulitmately had no point as his father closed the restaurant the next day.
I could forgive that, and might even have been interested in watching the next episode (which, according to the preview, seems to be a ‘student enters a new elite school and is very overwhelmed’ story) were it not for the show’s other major flaw. Cooking-themed anime tend to have very beautifully animated food, and Shokugeki no Souma is no exception. Everything from the fried rice his father served in the first scene to the bacon roast that felled the realtor looked good enough to eat. Even the peanut butter fried squid tentacles managed to look appealing. Souma even describes how he made the bacon roast, making it possible for interested viewers to copy his recipes in their own kitchens. However…well let’s just say, in this show, the term ‘food porn’ refers to more than just how delicious the meals look.
The creators of this show have chosen to show how delicious Souma and his father’s cooking is in a rather…uncomfortable way. Scenes of eating are highly sexualized, with the (usually female) characters moaning, twitching their legs and shaking their breasts in ecstasy in response to the taste. Mayu, the unfortunate girl forced to eat the peanut butter squid, is subjected to a scene of her being groped by tentacles while nude to symbolize how disgusting she found it. Even worse is when the real estate agent and her three (well-built, male) bodyguards eat Souma’s roast – their clothing literally flies off, and they moan ‘meat juice’ as said juice drenches their fully nude bodies.
These scenes made watching this episode a truly cringe-worthy, uncomfortable experience, and removed any enjoyment I might have felt looking at the deliciously animated food. I will not be watching any more of this show, and will be giving it a low score: