Food Wars! The Third Plate
Episode 19

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 19 of
Food Wars! The Third Plate (TV 2) ?

Manga readers will have noticed that once again this version of Food Wars is doing things a little out of order, but if you think about it, it makes sense. Although what's being skipped over for the moment is important, it also isn't as action-packed as preparing for a team shoukugeki, and after the declaration of war in this episode has been made, what a medium like anime needs is to keep the momentum going. This means that Food Wars needs to do what it does best: have a cook-off.

The biggest plot point this week wasn't that a war against Central was officially declared by the Rebels, but who it involves: Soma's dad. Joichiro Saiba has been the driving force behind most of the story – he took Soma out of his comfort zone and threw him into Totsuki, he motivated Erina to think about food beyond her father's strictures, and he's somehow involved with Polaris, Dojima, and Azami in ways that brought us to where we are now. That Dojima specifically went out of his way to get Joichiro involved in the advancement exam fiasco means that the Rebels are now truly playing hardball, something that Azami isn't totally blind to, although he's clearing viewing the world through Central-colored glasses. With powerful adults now truly involved in the fight, things are set to move to the next level.

That level is going to be the group shoukugeki, or Régiment de Cuisine, between the Elite Ten and the remaining Rebels. That this latter group will now include graduates of Totsuki, renowned chefs in the working world, says a lot about the overweening confidence Azami has in his theories and flunkeys. Of course, he may be counting on the fact that his group has all been indoctrinated in his specific theories and is thus well-equipped to work as a coordinated group. The Rebels are fighting for the chance to have variations and separate ideas in their interpretation of a dish, which may turn out to be their weakness in this case, not because they're in the wrong, but because their ideals aren't quite as well-suited to smooth group operating.

Or are they? Yes, the chefs all have to be on the same basic page, but doesn't a team battle also mean that the members of the team have to really know each other? That may be an area where the Rebels have Central beat – they're a group of friends, and many of them have also lived together. That means that they don't just know each other's cooking styles and preferences, but they know the little things about a person that only a roommate or family member can, the quirks that you figure out through prolonged day-to-day exposure to someone at their most comfortable. That can, of course, be a double-edged sword, though – we start to see that when in the practice match this episode begins Soma and his dad end up on the same team. Rather than becoming a perfectly oiled father/son machine, the two immediately start to bicker, their familiarity and comfort level with each other making them perfectly willing to call each other out despite judge Senzaemon's edict that there must be no verbal communication within the teams. It's a move I really appreciate, because it makes the two of them feel like a real family, not a perfect fictional one, and their squabbles (“Why are you doing it that way?” “Don't touch my hair!”) feel normal.

That's something that the Rebel team is going to have to deal with in general – Soma, Joichiro, and Takumi are going to have to learn to rein it in while Megumi is going to need to develop her self-confidence some more. Erina, meanwhile, may have the toughest road ahead of her in learning to see Joichiro as a person and not her idol; she's got some definite risks associated with meeting your heroes lurking on the horizon. Dojima's going to need to keep his cool around Joichiro as well, which could be a problem given the latter's love of baiting him. It's a good thing that they're all accomplished chefs, because saying it with their plates may turn out to be more of a challenge than actually defeating Central.

Rating: B

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

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