Shokugeki no Souma may be the first anime I’ve seen where I initially read the manga. I’ve never been much of a manga reader given the difficulty of obtaining it where I grew up, and the price point of each volume had always seemed too high. But now I’m supposedly a functioning adult with money and live in a city with easy access to the medium, both licensed in English, and in the original Japanese.
When Shokugeki was recommended to me, I about drop kicked both the reading and the recommending friend after the first chapter’s erotic display of overflowing pleasure in flavors and textures. Juices dripped, skin gleamed, and tongues flapped for more. But I kept reading, and gasping, and found the work difficult to drop. As a foodie, the reactions of those in the manga were relatable in a taboo, over-the-top way. Their emotions were exhibited more openly than I would ever dare, their hunger, joy, pride, and greed.
Then came the anime, which opened the act to satisfying movements without watering down the original too much. Now I could pair sounds to visuals, and fantasize the tastes even more. Both the manga and the anime satisfied that smutty side I usually suppressed. It toed the line but was able to maintain its position by supplementing with international dishes and advanced cooking techniques.
In addition to the sexualized act of eating, we were also presented with battles reminiscent of Iron Chef. The “shokugeki” pits student against student, sometimes even student against instructor, in a public showdown featuring a predetermined ingredient or dish. The shokugeki play out more like martial art battles in their fierceness and unpredictability–there are even sabatoges that remind me of Alton Brown’s Cutthroat Kitchen.
The intense competition and the judges’ reactions to the food placed before them kept me coming back for more food, more battles! And what we have isn’t even the end; for once I can say from reading the manga that there’s plenty more to show and tell.