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Food Wars! (Shokugeki No Soma) Volume Seven – Review

food-wars-vol-7-cover-image-01Every story, no matter how boiling hot, gets to a point wherein which it starts to cool, it starts to slow down, it comes to…a simmer. After six jaw-dropping volumes of Food Wars! (Shokugeki No Soma) I feel as though the time has come for the series to take a natural step back in preparation for big things to come, and it was the pacing of this latest volume that put such a thought into my head.

Every good Manga series has that one volume that doesn’t quite hit the mark, possibly because, much like this particular one, what goes on between it’s pages is mostly set-up for the duel between the story’s main character and the current rival. Almost every single Shonen Manga has this and, seeing as Food Wars! (Shokugeki No Soma) is indeed a Shonen Manga…it makes a great deal of sense that, it too, would fall victim to such a common pacing issue.

Thanks to Madman Entertainment, as always, we’ve been given to chance to review the latest volume of the series that took me by surprise early on and has become one of my favorite new Shonen Jump titles ever since.

The preliminary round of the Fall Classic begins! All of the contestants do their utmost to showcase their skills to the acclaimed judges, with the favored students presenting the most exquisite of curry dishes! Only the top eight finalists will qualify to enter the main event. Who will make the cut?! – Madman Entertainment

The Fall Classic is now underway, and the theme of the very first examination is what was foreshadowed in the previous volume; Curry. Having some of the most talented young chefs around, with many few of them masters of the spicy dish, it’s going to be hard for Soma to overcome the challenge that this test puts forth, that is…if he wasn’t the main character of a Shonen Manga. Chances are, he’s going to demolish the competition, but it’s still interesting seeing the lead up to his inevitable victory. Unlike previous volumes, continuing off of what I said in my opening statement; volume seven didn’t feel as high-octane as past volumes, and it could have been because most of what went on within the pages of this book was mostly taste-testing and score-giving rather than any real story development or…cooking.

As per usual, new characters were introduced by presenting their dishes; which usually mirror their personalities almost perfectly. This was fantastic, as it usually is, but I felt as though there was too high a volume of introduction for multiple character and not enough time spent on individuals. The only real insight we got into any of the characters was of a couple that had already been established; Takumi Aldini and Megumi Tadokoro. Thankfully the small shred of backstory shown through the judgement of their dishes were ones that pulled heavily at the heart strings, and ultimately made this volume worth reading through.

Volume seven seemed as though, as mentioned above, that it was only setting up for the battle to come between Soma Yukihira and Akira Hayama who are currently on each others’ radars as they move forward into the Fall Classic. This volume ends on a cliffhanger showing that everyone apart from these two young chefs have had their dishes judged, meaning that the next volume will most likely revolve around the two going head-to-head. While this isn’t a bad thing, it is something that really takes away from every other character simply because it’s detailing to the audience that, while most characters are talented enough to stand alongside these culinary giants…none matter as much as the story’s hero and his current rival. Unfortunately, this is how most Shonen Mangas go.

As per usual, Shun Saeki’s illustration mastery is awe-inspiring. Unfortunately, in volume seven, there wasn’t much he could do with what author Yuto Tsukuda had written for him. Usually there are always cinematic scenes of characters preparing, cooking, or serving food, but this time around most of what was shown was simply the reactions of the judges being blown away by the amazing quality of the food. Even so, usually Shun Saeki goes at those panels with an amazing level of extravagance…but not in volume seven. Though every panel looked clean and well-illustrated, it just didn’t seem like Saeki had a great deal to work with, so what we’re left with, while good, is still some of his worse pieces of illustration work. He’s illustrations in volume seven are still absolutely amazing, I cannot stress this enough, it simply didn’t have the same pizzaz as it has in past volumes.

In the end, despite how slow this volume read and how dull the judging process of these dishes were…Food Wars! volume seven was still a great read, albeit not as good as the volumes that have come before it. having an extensive knowledge of Shonen titles, considering I’ve read far too many in the past, I know that what’s coming next is the same quality of story telling and vibrance that the other volumes featured. Seven left us with a cliffhanger that is pushing this particular section of the arc towards it’s climactic ending, and I absolutely cannot wait for that to come. It just seems as thought his volume is necessary to set-up upcoming story events. Don’t let a natural dip in this series deter you from continuing. I urge you to stick with it, much like I will, in the hopes that it will return to former glory like many other similar series’ have done in the past, and many will do in the future.

Don’t miss out on this amazing culinary experience! Pick up Food Wars! (Shokugeki No Soma) at Madman Entertainment’s official online store: Click Here

Grade: C+

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