Food Wars! The Third Plate
Episode 14

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 14 of
Food Wars! The Third Plate (TV 2) ?

As manga readers may have noticed, it looks like things are moving at a somewhat accelerated pace this season with the first stage of the advancement exams over and done this week. That may sound more worrying than it actually is, because there's still enough time for us to get good and mad about what's happening, even with the addition of a few transition scenes that weren't present originally, making this episode replete with both frustration and triumph – something that other sped-up adaptations have failed to pull off. It isn't perfect, but it does do a good job of making the point and setting the stage for what's to come.

Mind you, the opening theme isn't being hugely subtle about one of the big reveals, but this week still does a good job of planting the seed for it when Soma wonders something rather specific aloud. We also get a firm grasp of just what Erina's Evil Dad is planning in order to weed out the inconvenient rebels; in an astounding failure of academic principles, he's actually setting them up to fail while tacitly overlooking his own offspring's part in their rebellion. It's like the superintendent's kid not getting punished for a minor infraction while her friends get expelled – it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Not that Azami or his cronies care. They make no effort to hide what they're doing and even tell the other students that this is an elaborate plan to drive out the rebels; you can't tell me that no one noticed the Polaris kids weren't in Azami's special prep classes. It's a testament to the power of Azami's brainwashing and the level of fear at Totsuki in general that people not only go along with his plot but end up agreeing with it. Where's the Department of Education when you need it?

Luckily for us, Azami's not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. If Japan sinks into the ocean, he could probably survive by floating on his giant ego, but that does cause him to overlook that the inventiveness he so despises actually sets up the rebels to succeed. Fortunately for the show, there's still a good amount of tension in the narrative, even if we're largely certain that Soma and friends will prevail. This is likely due to the pains taken to show us just how far Azami will go to implement his corrupt policies – when all's said and done, he's still a powerful man and they're just a group of plucky kids. Even if the novels of Horatio Alger taught me that the underdog can win with enough determination, that's still a scary prospect. The glee on the instructor's face this week as Soma's group realizes that they're being hamstrung is alarming, and even though we know that the group is more than capable of getting the job done, she's awful enough that there are some moments of real worry.

The major downside of trying to fit the entire first test, the scenes of Erina's boot camp, and the train ride to destination number two into this episode is that we don't get enough time to enjoy all of them. Fanservice fares better than some other aspects of the show this week, possibly because it's easier to slip in – from Nikumi's shrinking bra-top to that random scene where the camera lingers on Erina and Sakaki's breasts while they talk, it barely matters that the foodgasm is kind of lackluster (but definitely creepy). But Yoshino and Megumi are almost entirely cut out of the cooking scenes (which we barely see anything of anyway), and only Erina gets any real character development time. Granted, she's the one who's currently changing the most, and everyone trying to thank her for her help is really nice – I kind of wish she'd gone to see the stars with Isami.

Whether the pace will continue this rapidly remains to be seen, but I suspect that the show is itching to get to one particular reveal. Regardless, Food Wars! manages to be frustrating and triumphant before swinging back to frustrating again, and if it can fit that much emotion into under half an hour, I'd say it's holding up well.

Rating: B

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

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