Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma: The Fifth Plate
Episode 4

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma: The Fifth Plate ?

Ah, yes, the chainsaw, that delicate instrument of true gourmet. Who doesn't have one in their kitchen cupboard for slicing brisket or carefully peeling an apple? Naturally one of Noir's top chefs would choose to specialize in so nuanced a style of cookery as that based on that most perfect cutting tool.

Okay, seriously. Food Wars has always been skirting the edge of cooking lunacy, but previous to this season it did at least largely stick to things that were at least remotely plausible. This season, however, has taken off all of the restraints and is going off in directions previously left to the goofier brand of cooking show, like Yakitate Japan and Cooking Master Boy. (More the latter than the former, really.) As if an underworld cooking organization wasn't enough, the entire Blue competition appears to have been re-engineered especially for Soma's class of young chefs: whereas it used to be a standard, albeit grueling, contest, now it has been reworked so that competitors are simulating storming a castle with their cooking, and each stage of the contest has new and bizarre conditions to be met. But where Megumi has to make a dish for both pets and owners to enjoy (which had to have been thought of by someone without a dog; mine's a stomach on four legs) and Takumi needs to make baby's first solid food, Soma has to prepare a “last supper” for an old mob chef while Erina has to beat all bazillion challengers who have been unleashed upon her.

Ridiculousness aside, what's much more troubling is the fact that much of this year's Blue appears to be organized in a semi-tribute to Noir. That's suspicious in and of itself and leads me to wonder if they've perhaps infiltrated the competition's organization and/or the WGO at the highest levels, but it also is granting a legitimacy to the group that's appalling. Much has been made of the fact that the chefs of Noir are involved with shady if not outright criminal endeavors, and even if all they're doing is cooking for them (which isn't great, but it also isn't technically illegal), the implication is that they themselves are unscrupulous and don't mind stooping to their employers' levels. If the competition is rigged in their favor, that's bad enough; if it's designed specifically to legitimize Noir and undermine the stability of the world one commercial kitchen at a time, that's much more dangerous.

That definitely looks like a real possibility, too. Soma's group's trial is being judged by a former mob cook whose words specifically hint at the idea that no one without connections in The Business will be able to successfully pass his test. Since there is a WGO member present, there's implied sanctioning of this unbeatable challenge, which all adds up to something very worrying. That Soma himself will pass is never in question – not only does his diner experience prepare him for finnicky older palates, but he and his dad are maybe half a step removed from “thug” themselves at times, plus he's really not easily cowed. Add in that he watches most of the group fail before he even starts cooking and we know he's going to be okay here. That doesn't change or excuse the fact that someone set him up to fail, along with most of the other non-Noir chefs, and you don't have to be a whiny child to start muttering “that's not fair.”

But who is the woman behind the curtain who apparently sanctioned this entire fiasco? Given that we're starting to see some of the missing moms, I wouldn't be hugely surprised if she wasn't Erina's, although that may be a stretch. It would be symbolic, though, given that Soma's headband was his mother's, so it could take the show from Daddy Issues to Mommy Issues smoothly. (Not that that's a jump we need to make…) At least this episode is free of Asahi creeping on Erina; just talking to her (albeit smarmily) is far removed from what he was pulling before. That's sort of a dim light, but with the increasingly bizarre turns this final season is taking, I'll take whatever dim lights I can get.


Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma: The Fifth Plate is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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