Few characteristics make a Shonen Manga likeable. It is these same characteristics that also set the sub-genre apart from all others. For the most part, a Shonen story must feature a character cast of eccentric but relatable personalities, each one incomparable to the last.
As a part of this “roster”, the protagonist will be left with the burden of having to carry the rest through the bulk of the series’ story. This is a Shonen staple, and a weight-baring facet that will never change. This isn’t always for the worst though, in fact, a story relying entirely on the metaphorical strength of it’s hero can often work out for the better, that is…if the Manga has a protagonist like Soma Yukihira.
It’s the last quarterfinal match of the Fall Classic. Takumi Aldini, looking for another chance to challenge Soma, faces off against the smug-looking Subaru Mimasaka. What’s making him so confident? The truth—and the dish he prepares—sends the entire auditorium into an uproar! Let the shokugeki begin! – VIZ Media
Food Wars! isn’t unlike it’s fellow Shonen Jump Manga; most of the series is made up of battles between highly unique individuals each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Like other Shonen, Food Wars! goes above and beyond not only with it’s visuals but with the intensity of any given moment. One element that makes this series great is simply…that: It can do that which an action Manga is known for, and yet Food Wars! is no combat-heavy series.
Another component that makes this series great, incase you’ve yet to figure it out by my opening words; is it’s protagonist. The bulk of volume ten revolves around the Shokugeki between Soma’s rival Takumi Aldini and the newly-introduced copycat chef Subaru Mimisaka which, in and of itself, made for an absolutely brilliant read, but it was what came next that opened my eyes up to the might of Soma Yukihira as the series’ protagonist.
As a follow up to that of Takumi’s bout with Subaru, the mysterious meal-replication chef challenges Soma to another Shokugeki. As any good protagonist would, Soma courageously agrees despite the fact that this “chef” has never lost a cook-off. What shines brightest in this portion of the Manga is Soma’s adamantine confidence. Unlike many other Shonen protagonists similar to him, Soma’s tenacity is not showcased boorishly. Soma does not become uproarious in his confrontation of Subaru. Instead, his spirit manifests as a quiet confidence that gives off the impressionthat his words are absolute, even against incredible adversity.
Soma Yukihira appeared in this volume as the Shonen protagonist I always knew he was but one that, up until this point in time, had most of what he has to offer hidden within his mostly humble personality, only to be revealed during times of great need. Soma is not just a character that has been written to steal spotlight, he is a protagonist with the charismatic dynamism to accentuate the more important characteristics of his fellow chefs.
As per the norm; Shun Saeki’s incredible illustrative talents lend perfectly to the over-the-top storyline of such a Manga. All of his illustrations are crisp and clean, leaving almost nothing to be desired of them. Not often does a Mangaka produce flawless illustrations every single time, especially considering tight week-to-week deadlines, but it seems as though Saeki has found the secret that allows him not to fall victim to this seemingly inevitable setback, and it mat have to do with his having mastered the practice of sequential art.
What more is there for me to possibly say about Shonen Jumps’ Food Wars!? It’s an incredibly well-written Shonen story that continues to defy expectations volume after volume, only ever serving up greater story arcs and more detailed character developments backed up by some of the most impressive visuals I’ve ever had the opportunity to lay eyes upon. Sure, a moderate interest in the culinary arts, as well as some knowledge, is necessary to fully enjoy this series, but it’s interestingly adaptable and hard not to love.