Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma: The Fifth Plate
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma: The Fifth Plate ?
Okay, so this is, in fact, Food Wars, the show that has prided itself on unconventional methods and ingredients, as well as chefs with very, very specific specialties, but I categorically refuse to buy that Sarge can make “a fluffy and delicate” meringue with a chainsaw. I would have had an easier time if she'd used an outboard motor propeller, because the very nature of the chainsaw, with its elongated chain, means that the meringue would be smeared all over the length of the saw, and there's just no way it's coming together into soft, stiff peaks after that.
I'm also not sure that baking even thin cakes suitable for rolling by holding charcoal over the top would work, but that's demonstrably less insane. Damn it, Food Wars, what happened to you?
As you may have figured out, this week's episode features Sarge, the Noir chef with the chainsaw (and apparently nothing else by way of implements except for a pair of tweezers) going up against Soma in the first stage of the main event in this year's Blue. To arrive at this point, of course, the show has to just blow past the third gate challenge in a fashion even more egregious than the first two gates' matches; we don't even really get a firm grasp of the theme of the challenge beyond “meat” before we're seeing everyone's lovely dishes and watching as Soma, Takumi, Megumi, and Tsukasa are waved on through. (I feel like flowers may have been a part of it, given that both Tsukasa and Megumi used floral imagery in their dishes.) Mostly the point of the third gate seems to be to demonstrate that Noir's wacky chefs can, in fact, cook – even if how they cook is steadily gaining speed in terms of how ludicrous it is. From seasonings placed in each tooth of the chainsaw's chain-blade to pots that become friction-heating pressure-cooking balls to a guillotine used by a lady in a bunny mask, it's not enough for Noir to just work for society's seedy underbelly, they have to have a gimmick while they do it, too. But even without all of that, skipping so quickly through the challenge feels like all of the previous season's worst habits distilled down into a repugnant sauce go over the ridiculous spectacle that has taken the place of actual cooking in this show.
That may be a bit harsh, since there has always been an element of spectacle involved. But we barely see any prep or cooking now unless it's distinctly unusual, such as beating egg whites with a chainsaw. Even Soma's use of cheap ingredients has become background noise even though that's as much his signature move as anything Noir does, and when you pair that with the decreased foodgasms and fanservice alongside the pared-down use of the supporting cast, this episode really begins to leave a foul taste in your mouth. And that truly is too bad, because time was, this series was a lot of fun.
Of course, part of the problem here is that The Blue's main event started right off with Soma versus Sarge. We know Soma has to make it to the end because he's the hero, so even leaving off here we can reasonably guess that he's going to win this round, especially since Sarge wants to beat him to please Asahi. Had the event started with Megumi or Takumi facing off against a Noir chef, there'd be more of a feeling of suspense, because they don't have Soma's plot armor. (Although they, and Soma, might still have a second shot in the revenge matches Erina's fighting.) It makes this feel more gimmicky than like a legitimate competition even within the story's world, and that undercuts the point of the season, at least to a degree.
Maybe I'm wrong, and Soma will lose here. That'd actually be a nice surprise. But all the guest appearances by Nikumi in the world can't quite fix this mess, and even if Sarge prevails, this will still feel like a bit of a wasted episode that exists to show us that none of Soma's friends can understand a metaphor.
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