Food Wars! The Second Plate
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Food Wars! The Second Plate ?
Ladies and Gentlemen, it's the match you've all been waiting for: Soma versus Mimasaka, concluded! This has definitely been one of the better executed showdowns of Food Wars's second season, having taken the time to really set things up as well as two episodes for the actual cooking, putting this much more in line with the show's first season. When we left off last week, Mimasaka had just revealed the secret weapon (bacon) with which he planned to take Soma's recipe one step farther. It's what he did to Takumi and countless other cooks in the past, but unlike his self-proclaimed rival, Soma doesn't seem all that concerned. Not that Soma ever looks particularly worried (I'm not sure he knows how to make a worried face), but it's especially worth noting given who he's up against, the stalker extraordinaire.
So again, I find myself asking how Mimasaka hasn't been taken away by the police yet. Seriously – this week he flat-out admits that he hacked into Mitsuru's computer and we see him lurking under the desk like a variation of the monster under the bed. How is that not illegal, if not at least against school rules? For some reason, I can buy that good food makes a man's kimono fall off but not that Mimasaka is still free to participate in school events. However, this issue of disbelief does not take away from the match itself, and watching the moment when Mimasaka's own belief crumbles is still glorious, if not as all-consuming as it could have been. The same can be said of one of the judges, Taki, a Totsuki alum who has not outgrown the school's snobbish views – that's actually the more satisfying takedown of the episode.
Vengeance aside, the reason why Soma agreed to the shoukugeki is the most remarkable aspect of the episode. It wasn't out of his innate competitiveness, although that probably helped, but rather because he wanted to make a point to Mimasaka – that winning and losing are not the be-all-end-all of life. If you think back to season one, Soma's always been pretty even-tempered about losing, with the one major exception being when Erina initially trashed his test dish for transferring in, and he was probably upset then because he knew she was lying. Soma comes from the school of thought that says if you fall, you get right back up again, and next time, you won't fall as far. In a very dad-like way, that's what he wants to impart to Mimasaka, who has a winner-takes-all attitude and doesn't consider anything but first place worthwhile. I could practically hear my own dad reminding me that, in his words, “falling is all part of skiing” when he picked me back up after a colossal spill. That's the attitude Soma embodies, along with Takumi, Mito, Megumi, and the others to some extent. It's only Mimasaka who failed to get that memo.
Not that this necessarily makes Mimasaka more sympathetic, although seeing his past does help to explain where his attitude came from. It's basically his way of getting back at his own father's rejection and learning to use the humiliation of others to validate his own talents for memorization. Whether that excuses him or not is largely left up to each viewer to decide; there isn't a major push either way by the show – it just tells us what happened in his past, which I appreciate.
That subtlety is out the window where the foodgasms are concerned, of course. While Mimasaka provokes the usual stripping reaction with a bonus boxing match, Soma's dish goes into totally weird territory by transporting his diners to “Yukihee Land,” a meat theme park where they all dress like high school girls for no good reason. I'm not sure why the mascot is a Soma clown and not some kind of cow (although maybe I just answered my own question), but it does fit with the bizarreness of the scenes, and I do tend to prefer the silly to the sexual in these reactions.
Next up is the second semi-final battle between Ryo and Akira, and I'll be curious to see how that goes. The rushed pacing of the first episodes seems to have left, but with only thirteen episodes listed, I am concerned that they'll either drag this last semi-final and the final match out or rush through the start of the next story arc only to leave us hanging. I'm hoping we'll get an announcement towards the end of the season, but until then we'll just have to see if we can gauge what's to come by next week's offering.
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