Food Wars! The Third Plate
Episode 18

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 18 of
Food Wars! The Third Plate (TV 2) ?

If any recent episode of Food Wars can be said to have ended with a bang, this would be it. While the battle between Akira and Soma was tense, with the stakes as they were, it's not actually that big of a surprise that Soma carried the day; after all, if he'd lost, the series would have had to struggle to continue. Likewise we knew that Erina would be fine even if we hadn't heard as much last week, because her dad still foolishly thinks that he can win her over to his side. But the final moments of this episode reveal that Soma may be the only rebel who made it past this stage: everyone who wasn't at his location failed and has been expelled. (Tellingly, Megumi and Takumi's fates are as yet unrevealed, but the opening theme can be interpreted to show that they're fine, since they're shown outside of the bars closing in the rest of the rebels.) That means that it's now truly up to our core group of characters to defeat Central, because they may be on their own from here on out.

Of course, that's without counting on some of the adults. Grown-ups haven't been precisely trustworthy in this series, with most of the teachers espousing abusive teaching methods and theories and dads being either flat-out evil (Erina's) or largely absent (Soma's). But Dojima showing up at this particular stage of the advancement exam may be a sign that there are some powerful adults who aren't going to just abandon the kids to Azami's machinations, and the fact that he brought Jun in as well indicates that he's not just there because it's his job. That Alice's father was one of the judges who ultimately chose Soma over Azami's minion Akira is another good sign – Azami may be his brother-in-law, but he's no one's toady, signaling once again that there's a major split in the Nakiri family when it comes to Central's tenets.

That's what wins Soma the day in the end. His dish is on par with Akira's in terms of skill, but it has that indefinable something that is added when someone really cares about their food. He's not just cooking to win, in other words, chasing an illusion of ultimate perfection, he's making something that he wants people to enjoy eating. That's been Soma's creed all along: he wants the people who eat his food to feel. Sure, that gets perverted when he's whipping up peanut butter-coated octopus, but when it counts, he wants his diners to be happy. Akira's been blinded by his determination to regain Jun's research lab – he wants her to be proud and happy, yes, but she's not the one who will be eating his food. His quest for results ends up costing him, because what really matters isn't just taste, it's enjoyment.

The way that enjoyment is shown is pretty great even by the standards of the show that refined the foodgasm. Dojima's utterly serious description of the clothes-shredding powers of the Nakiri bloodline is one of the most delightfully ridiculous things I've heard Takehito Koyasu say, especially when it's accompanied by an ancient scroll depicting the technique in antiquity. I love that Food Wars makes the foodgasms part of its internal mythology, because that means that we can interpret things like the magical cabbage girls and other similarly zany reactions as actually happening via the mysterious powers of yumminess. It kind of makes me wish we got to see people seeing the reactions – are they weirded out or totally blasé about the whole thing because it's so normal? It must make going out to dinner quite the experience in the story's world.

Azami perhaps isn't anticipating the experience he's about to have now that he's managed to winnow the rebellion down to just a few people. He may think that he's taken a step toward victory, but it's much more likely that all he's done is made the remaining rebels mad. That's the thing about knocking down a hornets' nest: sure, it's no longer hanging on your porch. But now the hornets are angry – and they know that the guy holding the stick is to blame.

Rating: B+

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

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