Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma: The Fifth Plate
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma: The Fifth Plate ?
There's something fitting about reviewing this episode while I'm waiting for my challah dough to rise, because I feel like I've been waiting for this season of Food Wars to rise the entire time. With only one episode left, this would have been the moment to bring everything to a point just shy of the peak, but the same old problems that have been around the entire time keep punching things right back down. It's a bit depressing, really.
Part of the problem is, as always, the rushed pacing. It was no surprise that Asahi lost to Soma, because that was basically established last week, and if we're honest, the fact that Asahi's cooking can't compete with Soma's because he's lacking in the heart required to pour love into his dishes isn't all that shocking, either. It is sad that this is all because Asahi turned down Joichiro's offer to adopt him and bring him back to Japan to be raised with Soma, although that was no guarantee, either – Joichiro tells Asahi that he regained his passion for cooking because of Tamako, who we've also seen was instrumental in Soma's formation as a cook, and the only reason Joichiro went home at that pivotal moment was because of Tamako's death. Still, it might have given Asahi the family he so clearly yearns for.
Why he thought Erina could provide that as a wife isn't entirely clear, but he seems to believe that her God Tongue would have pushed him to greater heights, which suggests that he didn't get what Joichiro was telling him at all. (In fairness, he was about ten years old at the time.) Asahi can't acknowledge that what he was really missing was a sense of belonging and the safety of a family, which we've seen is what most of our main cast has behind them – Megumi, the Aldini brothers, and Alice all have biological families, while Ryo and Akira have adoptive ones. (That's another sign of what Asahi could have been had Joichiro not taken an angry child at his word.) Meanwhile Erina only appears to have turned out as semi-well as she did because of her grandfather's support; having that backing kept her (truly awful) parents from undermining her humanity entirely. It's a surprisingly wholesome message for a show based on competition and people's clothes exploding off their bodies.
How it's used in the final episode will ultimately determine whether Food Wars really means it, though. If the story sticks to its theme and means it, Soma will win for the same reason he beat Asahi: his cooking has heart and he knows what it means to care about others. Erina is not only tortured by her self-imposed plan to save her mother from herself (which I can't fault her for, but efforts to save someone from their problems rarely work out), but she's also lacking in the emotional honesty that all of the other characters have. All she's got going for her are her skills, and Asahi just proved that that's not enough. If she does win, it's going to look awfully like Mana favored her own child over the actual best based on the precedent the series has spent episodes establishing.
Speaking of precedent, it looks as if Erina's parents had a very similar dynamic to her and Soma. We saw how well that worked out, so if she and Soma are smart they'll head for the hills before becoming romantically involved with each other. That's more of an observation than any assumption about what's coming next week, though; what actually remains to be seen is whether the story reneges on its established lore.
Either way, at least the series will be over.
Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma: The Fifth Plate is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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