Food Wars! The Third Plate
Episode 11

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 11 of
Food Wars! The Third Plate ?

It's kind of fun to think about this season of Food Wars in conjunction with last season's Restaurant to Another World, if only because there are some patrons of Nekoya who would no doubt love to kick Azami's ass. Azami's chief tenet in his reformation of not only Totsuki but the entire food situation of Japan, as Tsukasa reveals this week, is to eliminate all casual dining establishments in order to create a gourmet-only dining culture. He refers to restaurants beloved by “the masses” as serving “animal feed,” a slap in the face to comfort food lovers everywhere. It's actually a disquieting thought if you consider this initiative outside the scope of anime – imagine a world where you couldn't run out and get a burger or some mac and cheese when you just need a pick-me-up. Sometimes we don't want fine dining or even have time for it, but in Azami's vision, those of us who just like to go grab a quick bite need not apply for dining privileges.

While this is hardly on the scale of Brave New World, it's still a pretty powerful statement, as well as a nice reminder that people looking to build utopias are usually only thinking of a select few who will benefit. That's ultimately what pushes Soma over the edge this week. He's always objected to Central and Azami on basic principle, to say nothing of his treatment of Erina, but when Tsukasa casually mentions Central's plans for all restaurants in Japan, it becomes personal. Restaurants are Soma's life, and he's only putting up with Totsuki so that his dad will let him take over Yukihira (or he was at first, at any rate). If Azami wants to destroy his family's diner, he'll have to do it over Soma's dead body.

Of course, Soma's too smart to charge in with metaphorical guns blazing. When he offers to help Tsukasa as his assistant in class, it's entirely possible that he's doing so to get a closer look at how the First Seat cooks. Soma's always been okay with losing or working with someone he doesn't even like if he can learn something from it, so getting to be Tsukasa's sous-chef is a great opportunity for him. It's also not clear if he accepts Tsukasa's challenge (beat me or join Central as my permanent sous-chef) thinking that he can win. Erina, Hisako, and Megumi are clearly more nervous about the whole thing than Soma, but even if he is forced to join Tsukasa, he's still going to be in a position to learn a ton and possibly join Isshiki in working to change Central from within.

Tsukasa himself is proving to be an interesting character. He's the poster boy for anxiety, but he's also completely self-absorbed, unable to see anyone's goals as having merit beyond his own. He's not a bad person, just a selfish one. He's a good contrast to the rest of the Council in that way; with a couple of exceptions, he's not snobby or outwardly elitist, and even seems like a basically decent guy. He just can't see the dish for the ingredients, so to speak, and that leads him to make questionable choices, like teaming up with the man who allows students to be humiliated by stripping them to their underwear and tying them to poles. Seriously, if you had any doubts about Azami's unfitness to be anywhere remotely near children, this episode should clear those up – not only is he advocating and encouraging bullying, we also learn that he ripped up all of Alice's letters to Erina in a bid to fully isolate her and place her under his control – a classic abuser move.

While Alice telling her uncle that she hates him is a personal highlight this week, on the whole this episode simply flows more smoothly than its predecessor. There's a better sense of the cooking Soma and Tsukasa share, and with a couple of exceptions (Hisako's weird face in the scene where she and Megumi anticipate the taste of Tsukasa's venison), the art is much improved.

The scene is set for Soma and Tsukasa to face off next week, and Soma's good and motivated now. Whether or not he can win is another question, but even if he ends up stuck with Central, he's made it clear that this is personal now. Central had better watch out.

Rating: B+

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

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