Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma: The Fourth Plate
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma: The Fourth Plate ?
Food Wars has always had a little trouble with female bodies, but I'm pleased (?) to announce that this week's episode features an entirely new and bizarre issue: shine that really, really looks like pimples. That's been a problem across multiple series ever since the idea struck someone that taut female flesh should be highlighted with little circles of red and white to show off its supple firmness, but rarely have I seen it look so distinctly zit-like as in this particular episode. Poor Nikumi and Décora specifically look like they need to see a doctor or take a bath in medicated waters. I think Nikumi fares worse, actually, because her always low-riding skirt is mere millimeters from falling right off her increasingly exposed hips this week. Fanservice is all well and good, but when it starts to look like this stuff, maybe someone needs to dial it back and let the food carry the cooking show.
Maybe it's no coincidence that the foodgasms brought about by Takumi and Rindo's dishes are among the more irritating we've seen. They basically take the form of infomercials, selling sexy lingerie and then the program needed to develop the body to wear said undergarments. I'm never a fan of body-shaming, which this treads dangerously close to, but more at issue is the fact that they're just boring, especially when compared to previous examples of food reactions. We've had other lengthy ones (although none quite so long as these, I think?), but honestly, would you rather watch magical cabbage girls, Soma chicks, or the Home Shopping Network? Lingerie or not, the last one just isn't as much fun as the other two, and it smacks of the show knowing that the whole thing was too long and just hoping that if they threw enough scantily-clad ladies at the audience, no one would notice.
There's also the fact that we don't see Azami participating in these scenes. Not that I harbor any burning desire to see him in fancy underwear, but Food Wars has always maintained a nice sense of equality with its fanservice, showing as many naked guys as girls. It is absolutely within Azami's character not to have an over-the-top reaction, especially to a dish made by the Rebels, so in that sense, it isn't so much a complaint as an observation. It is a shame to see the sharp shift in the nudity, however; being able to blame Azami is just a lovely bonus.
With Azami's insertion of himself and his handpicked cronies from the WGO as replacements for the initial judges we do see how far he's willing to go to make sure that things turn out in his favor. While most of the room is furious at his blatant rule-bending (if not outright breaking), Soma does make a good point when he says that this means that the Rebels have made Azami nervous. If the man feels that he has to personally intervene in the Team Shokugeki, that means that he's genuinely concerned that he's about to lose. It isn't surprising that Soma would be the only one to see it this way – he's the only one confident enough and with a secure enough ego, really – but it certainly does make sense if you consider that Azami is basically a coward; ostensibly we could say that the entire Central debacle is because he fears innovation and change and the effect that can have on a cook. That he claims to be doing all of this for the very man who taught Soma not to fear these things is a nice bit of irony, not that Azami will ever be able to see it.
Anne is the other person who is able to stand up to this change, and because of her position, she's able to do so in a much bigger way than Soma making an off-hand remark. Her refusal to give up her seat to Courage is significant, not only because she's telling Azami that he doesn't just get to have things his way, but also because Courage and Décora essentially bullied her while “training” her palate, and this is her moment to show them that she's not that timid little girl anymore. Hopefully that's in parallel to Erina, who will have a chance to cook for her father soon and who very much needs to make that exact same point to the man who emotionally abused her under the guise of training.
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