Food Wars! The Third Plate Episode 3
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 3 of
Food Wars! The Third Plate ?
When Soma Yukihira tells a girl she won't be getting any sleep that night, you can bet that he doesn't mean what most manga heroes do by that statement. Poor Megumi will be in for a rough night of experimental cooking before Soma unleashes the next phase of his plan to compete with Kuga during the Moon Festival, and the results of their night together should be good for all of us.
Soma's ability to adapt to his circumstances is one of his strongest weapons at Totsuki, and this story arc is making full use of it. Having backed himself into a corner with his decision to take on Kuga and his Chinese Research Society's highly ranked restaurant, Soma is essentially climbing up the wall in order to jump out of his corner (and over Kuga). He does this by increments – first he decided on a Taiwanese street food to counter Kuga's spicy main dishes. Then he added a second, lighter dish to help lure in customers who might be too full for the heaviness of a meat bun. Now he's working on a third selection, but what's more impressive is the way he's coming to these decisions: research during the festival. Most of the other students did all of their planning and research in the weeks leading up to the event, but Soma is flying by the seat of his pants. That's not unusual for him, but it does give him an interesting edge. By actively analyzing what the people want, he's in a position to increase his sales on a daily basis by giving them that on demand.
As usual, Soma relies on his background as the son in a family restaurant. While his fellow students dismiss his diner as plebeian food, Soma's ability to appeal to a wider variety of customers with both taste and showmanship is a skill that most of them lack, having studied food in a purely academic or elitist way. Ultimately, this will be what saves him at the Festival, capitalizing on his talents by distributing free samples to straggling late-evening visitors. Sure, he's not making any monetary profit, but he is getting a firm grip on the customer base as well as some good advertising. If, as my father has always said, you remember things by how they end, people are going to go home remembering those nice young people and their yummy free food—and then maybe stop by to show their appreciation with a purchase the next day.
Despite all this plot movement, Soma isn't the sole focus of this episode, which actually relies on humor much more than before. About half the episode's character interactions are done in semi-chibi format, and much time is spent on the utter disaster that is Alice, Ryo, and Akira's booth. Poor Akira is well on his way to a nervous breakdown (how Ryo has managed this long is anyone's guess), but we do see that Alice is slowly learning how to play nice with others, even if she still has a ways to go. Both the Don RS and the Aldinis are doing well, even if Takumi is still utterly fixated on Soma as a rival. (I love Isami gently reminding him that he should tell Soma if he wants acknowledgement.) Kuga's overbearing conceit is annoying (albeit earned), but that should just make it more enjoyable when Soma proves his mettle.
Of course, I can't leave this review without mentioning the glory that is Sadatsuka and her Booth of Stink. She's always a fun character to have around, and she's particularly well used this time, as she worries about her somewhat uniform customer base and acts as a creepy background constant while Megumi and Soma discuss what to do next. She could be the “Where's Waldo” of Food Wars, lurking in the background of scenes just waiting to be discovered. Hmm, maybe I should suggest that as a spinoff…?
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