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

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The final pages of Food Wars! Volume seven left readers in a state of anticipation thanks to the cliffhanger ending that saw protagonist Soma finally about to go head-to-head with his Fall Classic arc nemesis Akira Hayama; the self-proclaimed master of curry.

Volume seven served as an introductory volume that set up a great deal of the story that leads directly into the confrontation between these two culinary juggernauts. That then transitions almost seamlessly into the next, and possibly final, segment of this tournament-arc.

Thanks to Madman Entertainment, once again, for allowing us the opportunity to review the latest release in this much-loved Manga series.

 

The battle of the Fall Classic preliminaries comes to a thundering close! Can Soma conjure up a curry masterpiece brilliant enough to surpass a dish from the master of fragrance, Akira Hayama? This volume also includes a bonus story about the adventures of a certain someone during her lazy summer vacation! – Madman Entertainment

Volume eight took an entirely different approach to story development than volume seven which, as I mentioned, featured a great deal of character introduction but not a lot of that typical over-the-top culinary storytelling that Food Wars! is known and loved for.  Volume eight is broken up into three defining sub-storylines that all  contribute to the overarching Fall Classic arc, two of which are more pivotal than the other: The volume opens with Soma and Akira’s curry judging, it then fades into a break period wherein which Soma is hired to teach a children’s cooking class, and the volume ends with the beginning of the Fall Classic finals which pits Soma against the notorious Alice Nakiri.

As per usual, each of these three segments were served up to readers with class, charm, and a level of cinematic excellence that you can only get from a well-written, masterfully-illustrated Shonen Manga. Once again, Soma is the one in the spotlight for most of the volume, but the way his character is written is realistic enough to have you still root for him despite the fact that you know he’s inevitably going to win.

In previous instillments of the Manga, the audience is slowly given this image of a hero who will always win no matter what the circumstances. In volume eight, the reason why this is the case is brought up, once again, the only difference being that it is overtly outlined in a way that sticks with you long after you’ve finished reading: Soma’s confidence and drive comes from the fact that he is constantly losing. Rather than simply taking the loss as is and allowing it to shake his mental foundation, he uses it as a reason to learn and evolve. This is why he charges head-first into every challenge, big or small. It’s a trope that is often used in Shonen Manga to fault, but in the pages of Food Wars! it is utilised in a way that shows the main character as both powerful yet not unbeatable.

As is the norm at this point in time; the illustrative style featured in Food Wars! thanks to the efforts of series artist Shun Saeki is absolutely breathtaking. What I absolutely adored about volume eight of Food Wars! was the large amount of intricately detailed multi-panel spreads that showcased the fighting spirits of both Soma and Akira. It was amazing to, once again, witness just how wonderfully talented Shun Saeki truly is, and I feel as though it hits you so hard when you turn a single page and the next two are filled with nothing but what looks to be hardcore Shonen action…in a Manga about the culinary world. Nothing I say here will be any different to the previous reviews but I feel as though it’s always necessary to reiterate that Shun Saeki’s illustrations are what make Food Wars! truly stick in the long term memory of the reader.

I hate to repeat myself, I really do, but it’s inevitable when I’m to review each and every new volume of a Manga that is continually providing such high quality story-telling and visuals. Granted, the last time I reviewed a volume of Food Wars! I wasn’t too happy about the way it was presented, but that was simply because it was a volume dedicated to setting up the events of the eighth. I think, though, the audience absolutely needed this rollercoaster of quality, even just briefly, for the sake of being able to compare the series’ positives and negatives, proving that the negatives are overtly outnumbered by the positives.

Reading through volume eight brought me back to my days as a young man first experiencing a Shonen Manga, which is quite a feat considering I said something quite similar in my review of volume one. What this says about Food Wars! is that it is a Manga that takes the realistic concept of a culinary school and mixes it with the ridiculousness of a Shonen series in a way that continues to stay fresh while not seeming at all out of place. Fact is; this happens time and time again, like it almost forces you into forgetting exactly what it is just so it can shock you with it. It takes a special Manga to do something like that, and I’m not sure there’s one more special than Food Wars!.

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: A+

-30-

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