Food Wars! The Third Plate
Episode 1

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Food Wars! The Third Plate ?

Rejoice, fellow Food Warriors, for Food Wars is back for its third season, whose reported twenty-four episodes should alleviate that rushed feeling from season two. To that end, this introductory episode makes it look like the series will be very faithful to the manga, which hopefully means that the character development won't be dropped in favor of action – both are important, but if we're really going to appreciate Erina as a person, the latter really can't be skimped on.

The latest battle facing Souma is, of course, one he gets himself into. Having met the full Elite Ten of Totsuki for the first time, he promptly asks who will fight him for their seat. He settles on Kuga, a specialist in spicy Chinese cuisine, and decides to take him on at the upcoming school festival. The thing is, and Souma probably should have realized this, Totsuki doesn't do school festivals like all those common high schools – theirs is called the Moon Festival, and it's a veritable smorgasbord of high-end dishes cooked by the students. Popular or well-known chefs, such as the Elite Ten, often attract repeat visitors every year. Basically Souma has decided to beard the lion in his den before checking to see if this particular lion has set up booby traps or the rest of his pride might be lying in wait beside him.

But he wouldn't be Souma if he didn't get himself into one of these messes almost immediately. One of his defining traits is his unwillingness to admit that he or his family's diner could be inferior to someone else just because of fame or status. That's something I've always liked about him as a protagonist – Totsuki's caste system is so toxic and entrenched that to see someone just waltz in and turn it on its ear without a care in the world is a lot of fun. Souma firmly believes in himself and his cooking, and he doesn't give two figs about who your dad was or what your grades are. He just wants to graduate and go home to make his family restaurant the best it can be. This attitude has enabled him to befriend a variety of people and help those like Megumi and Hisako to see their own worth. It also allows him to utterly ignore how much discomfort he causes Erina. She's built her self-image around her own supposed superiority, and Souma's inability (or unwillingness) to recognize that really throws her off. This has been the root of her problems more than anything else, and that's something this season is set to explore when we get farther along.

In the meantime, this episode sets things up for the fight to come. We're reintroduced to the characters, given the basic outline of the Moon Festival, and Souma formulates his plan. This is really the first time he's been back with his friends since the Stagière Arc, so it's nice to see he and Megumi fall back into their close friendship, as well as getting glimpses of familiar faces. (Nikumi!) Unfortunately the quality of the art seems to have gone downhill since season two – everything looks somehow simplified, which is too bad. The requisite fanservice remains equal opportunity as always, with Hojo providing the “T” and Ishiki giving us his “A.” The food still looks fantastic too – it's really just the faces that seem not quite up to snuff.

The plus side of opening with a reintroduction/setup episode is that we can jump right into the meat of the plot next week. Souma's got to reveal his plan to beat Kuga and maybe get someone to man the booth with him, and it will be interesting to see what the rest of the cast is planning to make. Let's hope that we're in for another season of great food, interesting characters, and exciting cook-offs. It looks like we're off to a pretty good start.

Rating: B

Food Wars! The Third Plate is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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