Shokugeki no Soma / Food Wars Season 3 Review – Weak? Strong? Maybe Both?

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Food Wars Season 3 has aired and let’s just say: EYYYYYYYY

Totsuki is under the rule of Central and Azami Nakiri, Erina’s father who was exiled from the family. He plans on centralizing cooking, so that only gourmet-food is served. What this actually means is that he aims to close down your Pizza restaurant and replace it with gourmet food.

Only menus on the list of Central are allowed and the indoctrination process of Totsuki’s students is on the road.

Soma, Erina and friends decide to take up the fight for culinary freedom and fight against a system, that has publicly branded them as rebels. As the fight slowly drags on, the rebels receive many losses, devastating setbacks and unexpected help by the Legends of Totsuki’s Golden Era.

All of this happens fairly late within this third season but I didn’t mention anything that could ruin your enjoyment of the show, STAKE ME IF I DID!

Although, please don’t.

The first three episodes of the third season are the worst, with lackluster animation quality and unusual pacing. After that, the fourth episode delivers one of the best highlights of the series and we have a long set-up for the rest of the season.

Is it worth it to sit through all of this? Yes, because the show makes use of its established, formulaic monotony to surprise the viewer with a fresh turn of events. This is really good because at that point, the viewer is probably way too tired and might have already stopped watching.

This is partially thanks to the slow pace that continues all throughout the third season, though the episodes never feel that long thanks to certain tricks that primarily appear in cook-off episodes. One of which is to never leave any room to breathe for the viewer, both on the visual but also on the audio spectrum.

One of these simple but very effective tricks is still images that move. We’ve all seen it. That scene in an anime where a few characters are talking and NOTHING except their mouths move. Food Wars does the same but it’s moving the entire imagine in a slow but steady speed from up to down, left to right etc. which keeps the viewer interested as the full picture is slowly revealed. That’s nothing new for this series and I didn’t consider it noteworthy until now, but whoever was directing those last few episodes of this season had a great understanding of how to use this properly. Not that previous seasons didn’t have it, but when the series finally does get interesting again, then the episodes feel like they’re flying by.

Naturally, that’s an achievement in my book. Starting weak and finishing strong from a technical standpoint, especially if it’s not with raw talent or a big budget but with clever tricks, is really not as easy as it sounds. Just look at Full Metal Panic IV as an example, it’s a 12 episode season and we already got TWO recap episodes in the middle of the season.

Nothing kills the mood more than a recap episode. Luckily, Food Wars doesn’t have that, yet anyway.

The soundtrack gets a few new tracks but many songs are reused so don’t expect anything ground breaking here. There are some surprisingly amazing tracks with my favourite being the new Opening song. FULL [SYMBOL] by Luck Life is an unusually memorable song thanks to a very good rhythm and strong vocals. I’m not an expert on that but it’s just what I particularly enjoyed about it.

So is this season perfect then?

Absolutely not.

It wastes a lot of time setting up the battle that occurs in the last three episodes of this season and that hurts the overall viewing pleasure if you go into this without knowing about it. Cliffhangers are a regular customer for Food Wars by now and I’m sure they already have a fourth season confirmed, otherwise they wouldn’t have implied a “short break” within the final episode.

Many characters were also shoved to the sidelines with almost no screen-time at all, even those that had extensive focus put upon. Erina profits heavily from this but especially the likes of Takumi Aldini suffer for it.

If I’m correct about what will happen, then the side characters will return to a secondary spot-light in the fourth season but I was wrong a number of times during this season already, usually in a good way though.

Other than that, the issues I addressed in the other articles about season 3 (First Half / Half of the Second Half) are still present, though the longer the third season kept going, the better it actually got and the long build-up towards this confrontation is rewarded. It’s at episode 18 of this season that the severity of the situation is fully revealed, but it might have been too late for some people.

The story is interesting, the food is delicious and the comedy is sometimes good. I can still recommend Food Wars. The third season had me really worried at the beginning but it managed to pick itself up and run strong after that. It got a bit stale watching someone run for several episodes with the same events happening in a similar order, but eventually it pays off. The same issues are still there but if you got through the first 12 episodes, then let me tell you:
The next 12 episodes are going to be better.




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