Image source: 『食戟のソーマ』TVアニメ公式 on Twitter

The Fall 2017 anime season is just around the corner and there are a lot of interesting new series coming out. But, it’s always nice to go back to my manga roots and watch something adapted from Weekly Shonen Jump. And Food Wars! The Third Plate is where it’s at.

Food Wars! The Third Plate continues our hero Sōma Yukihira’s journey to surpass his father’s culinary skills. He does this by attending a prestigious culinary school. But, graduating is no easy task as the students battle each other for culinary dominance.

Food Wars! has a very simple premise: a school all about cooking battles. In other words, it’s the hit TV show Iron Chef but in a school. That’s an ingenious concept right there because it takes a concept ingrained in shonen series—battling—and adds a nice little twist to it: cooking. While this may seem simplistic at first, there’s a good reason why the series uses it. It makes the series very easy to follow and gives the protagonist clearly defined goals. That’s important for the series because the longer it becomes, the more conflated the story can be. Thus, by keeping the stories and overarching goals “simple,” we become engaged with the story and characters.

Image source: 『食戟のソーマ』TVアニメ公式 on Twitter

The easiest way for Food Wars! creates an engaging story is by making the antagonists as bad as possible. Other Weekly Shonen Jump series have done this by having them do villainous acts. Yet, Food Wars! can’t fall back on this. Instead, what happens is the antagonistic characters have large egos to the point they’re overly arrogant; they believe no one can beat them at their craft. This makes us despise the characters and want to root for our hero—in this case, Yukihira. We want to see the underdog overcome and defeat the antagonists. However, it has to be a hard-fought victory. This is why in the previous two seasons of Food Wars! Yukihira has faced large hurdles. It’s so we get the sweet taste of victory after seeing see his struggle.

Granted, at the end of the previous season, Food Wars! The Second Plate, Yukihira is defeated. But, that’s the beauty of Weekly Shonen Jump series. It’s not enough for Yukihira to beat the antagonists or his rivals; he has to work for it. It’s what makes any shonen series so exciting. There’s a certain amount of build-up to the final confrontation and even during the confrontation both characters are on relatively even footing.

Image source: 『食戟のソーマ』TVアニメ公式 on Twitter

In Food Wars! it’s shown through the work Yukihira puts into his craft and the strategies he considers using to win a food battle. Then, during a food battle, we see him put his all into creating a handful of dishes. The thing is, we also see Yukihira’s opponent and how they’re just one step ahead of him. This creates enough tension in each battle to keep us engaged and excited for the outcome. Consider, if it were just as simple as Yukihira defeating each student there’d be no story. So, by making the battles appear very close between Yukihira and the major characters it stirs our emotions. It’s a good flow for the series and makes it exciting to watch.

What Food Wars! comes down to is Weekly Shonen Jump’s mantra, “Friendship, Hard work, and Victory.” Each season of Food Wars! has all of that and then some. And Food Wars! The Third Plate is likely going to bring it to the forefront again. That’s what has me excited to watch the series.

Food Wars! The Third Plate will stream on Crunchyroll.

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