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        1. The Spring 2020 Anime Preview Guide
          Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma: The Fifth Plate

          How would you rate episode 1 of
          Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma: The Fifth Plate ?



          What is this?

          With the battle against Central finished and Erina installed as the next head of school, things are back to normal at Totsuki – for whatever that's worth! The first semester has just ended and that means that it's time for finals, with this year's challenge for the gang being to run a series of beachfront restaurants that the school has leased, with a minimum required profit of three million yen. Oh, and did I mention that they only have three days? With Soma and his other second-year buddies from the Elite Ten given the worst-looking restaurant on the beach, they'll have their work cut out for them to make the grade, and that's not even factoring in Mr. Suzuki, the new instructor who seems just a little too obsessed with Soma for comfort.

          Food Wars: The Fifth Plate is based on a manga. It's available streaming on Crunchyroll, Fridays at 12:30 pm EST.


          How was the first episode?

          Rebecca Silverman

          Rating:

          I have to admit that I wasn't looking forward to the start of this last season of Food Wars because I've so disliked what I've read of the manga during this arc. But if we ignore what's on the page and simply focus on this particular episode, it's a decent way to reintroduce us to the cast and concept. It's got all of our major players in their new roles, a ridiculous cooking challenge, a new bad guy with resting evil face, and, of course, breasts.

          What it doesn't have, sadly, is much actual cooking, although I suppose that that relieves it of the need to explain how shirtless cooking is a good idea when many of the items involve frying of one kind or another. (We'll have to go with the old “fanservice is magic” theory, I suppose.) Since the Elite Ten group has been shunted to the far end of the beach in a dilapidated shack that Totsuki perhaps had less to rent and more to just walk into, what and how they're cooking feels like it should have gotten more screen time, especially since the group has such a variety of cooks with different specialties and skills. It's very nice to see that at least part of that is being considered in their strategy, with Soma, Takumi, and Ryo doing the bulk of the actual cooking as the ones with experience in restaurants, and Megumi as the super hostess also makes sense. Whether Alice is more than just dead weight, however, isn't sufficiently explained. We also get glimpses of the other Polaris kids' work and how their special talents help them out, which is a nice bit of detail, even if poor Nikumi seems to exist in the episode solely as the weirdly mobile boobs that happen to have a character attached to them.

          On that subject, I'm not entirely pleased with the characterization of Megumi and Erina here. Erina has softened quite a bit, and that's both positive and logical, but she seems almost to have gone a bit too far – she almost feels like a completely different character. Megumi's personality remains largely intact (her new confidence is, like Erina's kindness, a bit much), but no matter how much stronger she feels in her work, having her wear a bikini, and a relatively skimpy one at that, seems very out of character for her. That requires a level of self-confidence and comfort that no amount of travel is likely to have given her in under a year, and that's not even taking into account the bizarre fact that the entire female cast is apparently allergic to one piece swimsuits.

          The final moments of the episode introduce us to the next big challenge for the gang – The BLUE, a special youth cooking competition, the very one Soma's dad was supposed to have participated in once upon a time. That gives it special significance for Soma and Erina, but it also may mark the shift in the show from daddy issues to mommy issues; both Soma and Erina mention, if not talk about, their mothers and it was after the BLUE fiasco that Joichiro met Soma's mom. I'm not sure I want to stick around to see how the anime pulls it off (see opening sentence), but there are definitely answers to some of the story's questions coming if you're in the mood to find out.


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