Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma: The Fourth Plate
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma: The Fourth Plate ?
It probably shouldn't surprise me that only Erina seems to be able to see that the Empress (or rather, queen) of Cute doesn't have any clothes. Even Momo herself may not be aware of just how much of an act she's really putting on, but this episode definitely makes it clear that for her, being cute and loving cute things isn't necessarily an organic reflection of who she is: instead, it's a presentation of how she wants to be seen. Just look at her stated reason for becoming a pâtissière in the first place – it's not because she loves sweets or baking, it's because “she looks the cutest” when she's in the kitchen, and presumably only pastry fits with her image of all-around adorableness in terms of types of cooking. Because as a child her love of weird toys accidentally predicted a market change, she's been billed as a cute savant, and that, rather than an actual love of cuteness, has directed her entire life to this point. We could even read her supposedly godlike eye for what will sell as another example of her as the naked emperor – Momo's from a wealthy and powerful family, so perhaps her name was enough to make people buy what she's endorsed; after all, it's the parents who have the spending power, and who are more likely to care about such things.
In any event, Megumi completely shook Momo's foundations with her unorthodox sweet treat, and even though Momo won, the fact that it wasn't the total victory that all the other Central members have gotten had to sting. Now she's up against Erina, with brown sugar as a theme ingredient, and she's all set to outdo herself in order to prove that there's nothing wrong with the way she functions: within an orthodox world of purported cuteness. The problem is, Momo herself is getting less and less cute by the second, and flashbacks to her as a younger girl only serve to highlight the artificiality of her eighteen-year-old attempts at cuteness…and maybe make us start to wonder how long she can keep this up. There's a reason why her roll cake castles' foodgasm attack is cannons and not something pinker – the cracks are definitely starting to show, and her entire “massive roll cake castle with ribbon candy” entry smacks of the desperation she's struggling not to feel.
Food Wars has always been more invested in this kind of symbolism and ridiculous cookery than any kind of realism, so it isn't surprising that Momo would go so far and so over-the-top. It is, however, credulity-straining even for this show that she'd whip up that many individual cakes perfectly rolled, filled, stacked, and decorated and be the first person to finish her dish. Roll cakes are faster to bake in terms of actual oven time (they have to be thin so you can roll them), but they can't be filled or decorated until they're cool, so even if we assume a blast freezer or something, it still feels like there's no way in hell that she could be done before Erina's fluffy pancakes or whatever it is that the other cards are all making. There aren't staggered start times, right? It also feels like saving Erina's match for last would have been better narratively, since we haven't seen her compete before and barely even see her cook; mostly we've been shown that she's a great taster with encyclopedic knowledge of cookery. The impact of her victory would have been much greater had the show held off on it for a bit.
Of course, then the Azami bombshell couldn't have been dropped with quite so much impact, because we really don't want him judging Erina's food. Yes, just when you thought you couldn't hate him anymore, Erina's dad comes back to replace the judges in what must surely be an illegal move by Central. After all, judges are supposed to be impartial, and that man is anything but. I've never been fully convinced of Anne, Charme, and Histoire's total impartiality (or at least not until Anne voted Megumi), but you know Azami is going to be a whole lot worse. Does his participation mean that Isshiki and Takumi are doomed? We'll have to wait until next week to find out.
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