I WOULD say that cooking programs are my “guilty pleasure“, but I honestly don’t feel much guilt after catching an episode of Jamie’s fifteen Minute Meals. The way I see it; humans eat a minimum of three times a day. You’ve got breakfast, lunch, AND dinner, though if you ask Childish Gambino…they’re just for beginners. Us humans eat SO much, we might as well eat good! That’s why, although my skills are closer to “none” than “great“, I still insist on being the cook in my household at least once a week, though I’ve never wanted to be an actual chef. Something I understand about the life of a proper chef, from knowing a number of former chefs, is that it is an incredibly difficult one. I was once told that a chef never quite leaves the kitchen, even long after their hard day is over. A lot resort to drinking to wind down, and most don’t last too long in the industry without cracking and hanging up their apron for good. I suppose what Anthony Bourdain says is true; the kitchen IS like the military. Still, even after knowing this…I love cooking, and it is cooking shows that allow me to see the lighter side of an incredibly brutal profession. When I first heard about Food Wars! I was ecstatic! “A Manga about cooking that ISN’T Toriko?!“, I thought to myself. That was all it took for me get hooked on this Manga and thanks to Madman Entertainment I’ve been given the first two copies to review, so without further delay let’s hop into the kitchen and get cooking!
Soma Yukihira’s old man runs a small family restaurant in the less savory end of town. Aiming to one day surpass his father’s culinary prowess, Soma hones his skills day in and day out until one day, out of the blue, his father decides to enroll Soma in a classy culinary school! Can Soma really cut it in a place that prides itself on a 10 percent graduation rate? And can he convince the beautiful, domineering heiress of the school that he belongs there at all?! – Madman Entertainment (Volume One)
Soma Yukihira’s old man runs a small family restaurant in the less savory end of town. Aiming to one day surpass his father’s culinary prowess, Soma hones his skills day in and day out until one day, out of the blue, his father decides to enroll Soma in a classy culinary school! Can Soma really cut it in a place that prides itself on a 10 percent graduation rate? And can he convince the beautiful, domineering heiress of the school that he belongs there at all?!
Leaving home for the first time in his young life, Soma moves into the Polaris Dormitory – a place run by an old crone and filled with crazy and eccentric students! Barely settled in, Soma quickly finds himself in one of Totsuki’s legendary cooking duels- a shokugeki! Who will his very first opponent be? – Madman Entertainment (Volume Two)
Food Wars! features a pretty standard Shonen storyline that revolves around a young chef who enrolls in a high-class culinary college in order to become the best chef in the world. Change around some of the minor details and you’ve got yourself a pretty rudimentary explanation for most Shonen Jump titles, THAT’S how basic the story of Food Wars! is, though…not to the dismay of the series. From reading through two volumes alone, I can see that Food Wars! is more character driven than anything else. While some titles rely solely on an overarching story, Food Wars! lays out a basic premise which it then expands upon through the use of unique characters. The writer of the Manga, Yuto Tsukuda, being one hell of a “foodie”, understands the different culinary practices and flawlessly bases characters around them which, in a round about way, allows the cooking that goes on within the Manga to develop into a character in and of itself. He’s also the one that writes in a great deal of the unnecessary fanservice throughout, but the blame can’t all be on Tsukuda seeing as series illustrator, Shun Saeki, seems more than happy to oblige.
Alongside some serious cooking knowledge that is shared with the reader between chapters, Food Wars! also provides some of that hard-to-beat sex appeal that usually comes in the form of someone simply sampling the food of one of these A-Grade chefs in-training and reacting to it’s amazing flavour. The incredible sexualisation of these characters comes out of nowhere and it hits you like a freight train, but by the end of the first volume you come to understand that it is all a part of the Manga’s charm. Providing the skills behind the fanservice is, as mentioned above, Shun Saeki who is somewhat of a young artist known mostly for his work on Food Wars! itself much like series author Yuto Tsukuda. Despite his “inexperience” he is an absolutely brilliant illustrator that perfectly understands panel placement and sequential art. Using huge exaggerations and mind-bending extremes, Saeki makes cooking seem almost like a battle you’d witness in a typical Shonen series. There’s so much flair to his illustrations, and each panel is so clean and detailed. It’s hard not to succumb to the visual brilliance of Food Wars! and it is, in fact, mostly the reason I want to continue reading despite my immeasurable love for cooking.
A lot of Shonen Jump productions are overly accessible. Most audiences will like what they see in the pages of a Shonen Jump Manga and that’s why the publisher’s works are so popular. Food Wars! I would say doesn’t quite fit that description: While it is what seems to be a simple Shonen title, there’s a lot hiding beneath the surface that really only people with a penchant for the culinary arts can unlock. There’s something special about Food Wars! that is hidden beneath it’s ridiculous nature and pages upon pages of fanservice and it’s a level of genuine knowledge I’m not sure I’ve seen in any other contemporary Manga. It IS insane, that much is certain, BUT it truly is in a league of it’s own, and should absolutely not be passed up by anyone even partially interested in the world of cooking.
Pick up Food Wars! at Madman Entertainment’s online store and dig in!
Volume One: Click Here
Volume Two: Click Here