Shokugeki no Soma: Why You Should Watch for the Food and not the Nudity

Yukihara and the other chefs of Totsuki Academy.
Do you have what it takes to be number one?

Shokugeki no Soma (or Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma) is a shonen manga written by Yūto Tsukada and illustrated by Shun Saeki. It was adapted into an anime on October 2014 by Shueisha and tells the story of Soma Yukihara, a boy who is aiming for the number one spot in Tōtsuki Culinary Academy. Only 10% of the students graduate from this elite institution, and the audience follows Yukihara’s journey as he challenges talented chefs and learns more about the food industry.

A selling point in the anime/manga is the ‘foodgasm’. ‘Foodgasm’ is a combination of the two words, food and orgasm, and used to describe the characters’ reactions upon eating delicious food, as the taster’s face gets hot and their clothes get stripped from their body. An example of this can be seen in a clip from Episode 1, after the land shark and her cronies try some of Yukihara’s food.

Although this fan service brings a comedic aspect to the anime, let us not forget that Shokugeki no Soma is about cooking and focus on one thing: food. Not only does Shokugeki no Soma introduce the audience to various cuisines, but it also introduces other elements that are important to being a chef such as creativity. Each of the students come from a different cooking background, and it is their knowledge that makes Shokugeki no Soma not only an entertaining anime but an informative one as well.

[Warning: This article will dive into events that happen in both the anime and manga, so there are spoilers ahead.]

A Variety of Cuisines

What makes Yukihara unique is that his cooking style is similar to his father’s, Soma Joichiro, which combines multiple cooking styles as Joichiro’s results of his travels around the world. Yukihara also specializes on preparing dishes for the masses, and his dishes are considered ‘lowbrow’ to the other students. However, this is because the majority of students come from wealthy families in Tōtsuki Culinary Academy, making Yukihara the odd one out. They also have a speciality, and learned how to cook a specific cuisine at home or in a kitchen.

The Aldini Brothers' dish, Aigamo Grilled with Spices
The Aldini Brothers’ dish, aigamo grilled with spices.

For example, the Aldini brothers, Takumi and Isami, specialize in Italian cuisine as they grew up in Italy working for their family restaurant, Trattoria Aldini. As a result, many of their dishes are inspired by Italian cuisine, as they adjust it to satisfy the Japanese palette. In the first day of training camp, their examiner, Inui Hinako, requested the students to create a Japanese dish using the ingredients found within their location. While most students opted for fish, Takumi and Isami went with their Italian roots and chose duck to create aigamo grilled with spices. Remaking the salsa verde to have uruka, a Japanese ingredient, they were the first pair to pass the exam because of their ingenuity.

There are also other students with specialities. Miyoko Hojo, heiress to a Chinese restaurant, specializes in Chinese cuisine. Ikumi Mito, who is hinted to be American because of her tanned skin, blonde hair, and American flag bikini top, specializes in meat dishes. Akira Hayama specializes in spices and is able to cook by relying on his strong sense of smell. These students are friends, frenemies, or enemies to Yukihara, and showcase their talents through cooking challenges. These challenges are what expose the audience to different cuisines, as each student competes by relying on their speciality to win.

A tournament that gives the students an opportunity to showcase their talents is the Tōtsuki Autumn Election, in which 60 students are chosen to present their food to industry professionals. The selected dish was curry, and everyone utilized their specialities to make a unique curry dish for the judges. Hayama, who claims to be the master of curry, presented the panel of judges with his fish head curry with a naan lid. To demonstrate his talent with spices, his dish had an explosion of aroma when the judges pressed their spoon against the naan. The aroma appealed to the judges so much that Hayama received 95 points, giving him the highest score out of all the male students.

Hayama's fish head curry. However, the judge's are surprised by it's unusual appearance.
Hayama’s fish head curry. However, the judge’s are surprised by its unusual appearance.

Out of all the students’ specialities, there is one student that uses science in her cooking. This brings an interesting element in Shokugeki no Soma, as a new realm of cooking is introduced, which brings us to the question: is cooking considered a science or a culinary art?

Food Science

Alice Nakiri, also known as the Heaven Sent child of Molecular Gastronomy.
Alice Nakiri, also known as the Heaven Sent child of Molecular Gastronomy.

Nakiri Alice has a unique speciality, as she creates dishes using molecular gastronomy. Molecular gastronomy was coined by Nicholas Kurti and Herve This, and is defined as the art and science of selecting, preparing, serving and enjoying food. It can also be considered the ‘art of deliciousness’, as innovative dishes are created by combining different chemical components. 1 According to chemists, prepared food dishes are the result of a colloid, which is the tiny particles of one substance that are dispersed into another.

Alice shows off her gastronomic knowledge during the training camp’s buffet challenge when she served her ‘three egg dish’ to the masses. Despite its simple appearance, the flavours amazed the consumers so much that Alice served 380 dishes, and was unable to serve more because she ran out of ingredients. Alice presented another dish using molecular gastronomy during the Autumn Election preliminaries, when the judges were confused at her curry’s unique appearance. Upon its tasting, the judges were silent, as they were unable to describe the taste and texture. The curry sauce was foamy, and the dish was a mixture of warm and cold. However, she was rewarded 95 points for her dish, as the judges all agreed it was delicious, but were too tongue-tied to explain the reason.

Nakiri Alice's thermal sense curry.
Nakiri Alice’s thermal sense curry.

Does this mean that molecular gastronomy will dominate the food industry? Critics do not think so, as they believe this subfield of cooking overemphasizes the scientific processes of cooking and does not acknowledge the intangible aspects of the craft, such as intuition and spontaneity. 2 Hence, it is interesting that in the first round of the Tōtsuki Autumn Election, Alice faces against an opponent that is all about spontaneity – Yukihara – in their battle to see who can create the best bento box.

Although Alice’s bento is beautiful like a jewellery box, she loses to Yukihara because she is unable to present the ‘fun aspect’ of the bento box to the judges. Opening a bento box is supposed to be filled with surprises, and Yukihara does this by adding mysterious black drops that reveal to be ‘nori bombs.’ Not only does he implement molecular gastronomy into his dish, but he also does it in a way that excites the audience. To answer the question whether cooking is either a science or a culinary art, the answer is… both. Rather than looking at cooking as two separate components, both science and art should compliment each other. 3 Food should invoke creativity, and it is because Yukihara implements creativity into his bento box that he wins against Alice’s speciality and proceeds to the next round.

Creativity on Dishes

Creativity is an important aspect in becoming a chef, as a chef must make their recipes unique and memorable. Although many of the students are creative, the student who displays the most creativity in his work is none other than the main protagonist, Yukihara. Unbound by cuisine traditions, Yukihara surprises people with his creations and is able to think ‘outside the box’. In the first day of training camp, Yukihara clarifies if they can use anything within their boundaries to make their dish and uses Hinako’s kaki-no-tane (kaki seeds) to deep-fry the fish. This is considered unique, because despite using fish for the exam (a common choice amongst the students), Yukihara uses his creativity to find a solution to bread the fish as there was no flour available.

Soma Yukihara and Tadokoro Megumi's dish, char okakiage.
Soma Yukihara and Tadokoro Megumi’s dish, char okakiage.

Yukihara’s creativity is not limited to just cooking, as he is able to serve 200 dishes of his Soufflé Omelette using live performance. Upon his realization that he cooked the wrong dish for a buffet, Yukihara concentrated his efforts to perform for the audience instead of the food’s presentation. Because of this, he is able to complete the challenge in 30 minutes, which is a remarkable feat, as everyone was given two hours to serve 200 customers.

However, Yukihara’s creativity does not stem from his own intelligence. Unlike the other students, Yukihara continuously grows as a chef by asking for assistance from his friends. In episode 6, Yukihara used the Don Research Society’s recipes to create a don that will be superior to his opponent’s. In episode 17, Yukihara asked ‘Nikumi’ (Ikumi Mito) about karaage because of her expertise on meat. After his victory against Kabutoyama Tetsuji, Yukihara asked Tetsuji to teach him skewering techniques as compensation. Yukihara’s passion and interest in cooking helps him grow as a chef, and makes the audience root for him as he climbs to the top.

Currently, Yukihara’s struggle is to create a cooking style that resembles ‘the face of the chef.’ As previously stated, many of his cooking techniques derive from his father’s, so he has yet to find a style that is specifically his. Since Yukihara is competitive and determined to win, there is no doubt to the audience that he will eventually find his own style. This is what attracts the audience to Shokugeki no Soma in the first place: to watch passionate students fight for the number one spot in Tōtsuki Culinary Academy.

Although Shokugeki no Soma’s fan service can be considered a selling point, the main appeal of the show is the variety of dishes that are cooked by the characters. As every character has their own speciality, various cuisines are presented to the audience, as some episodes focus on tasting the dishes. Some dishes are so delicious that they have inspired others to create real-life replicas, such as Stanlick’s recipe for the Gotcha Roast, which can be found here.

What will Yukihara cook next?
What will Yukihara cook next?

Shokugeki no Soma is an anime that appeals to those who love to cook or love food, and is recommended for those that want to learn more about the food industry. Just don’t watch it on an empty stomach!

Works Cited

  1. Harris, William. “How Molecular Gastronomy Works.” HowStuffWorks., n.d. Web.
  2. Harris, William. “How Molecular Gastronomy Works.” HowStuffWorks., n.d. Web.
  3. Heidi. “Food Science vs Culinary Arts.” A Dash of Science. N.p., 14 Mar. 2013. Web.

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  1. Cojo

    One of my favorite things about this series is how it parodies other shonen style anime and manga. It replaces special attacks and powerful villians with weird food combos and skilled chefs. It even has “cooking super moves” that satirize others of the genre (the cabbage chefs anyone?). A great parody that also kind of works on its own merits.

  2. blautoothdmand

    One of the most entertaining aspects of Shokugeki no Soma for me was seeing the differences in food culture between Japan and other countries. Like, a lot of times the show would present dishes that I’d never heard of but which are regularities in the Japanese kitchen, while other times a dish that I eat at restaurants all the time would be presented as this entity from another planet. One of the funniest moments for me was when the Aldini brothers pulled out their “secret weapon”; the mezzaluna, as if it was some alien super weapon, and I was like: “Yeah, I have one of those in my kitchen.”

  3. Robinette

    i work as a chef… to be completely honest; the personality types aren’t to off the mark. In school I actually ran into 95% of these personalities. i ran out of episodes to watch and began to read the manga, the characters a bit more fleshed out later in the series and it focuses more on the food then the Gasms.

  4. My only problem with this show is that it makes me really hungry

  5. Marry Harwell

    I saw the anime and I loved it!

  6. this anime is ridicolous, its like a parady, and i dont take it seriously at all , just laugh at how simple and over the top it is…

  7. washo

    Need to get into anime at some point. This sounds like a great starting point for me. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I stopped reading the manga. I stopped at volume one. I just didn’t see any point to reading it any more. It trys to hard to be egdy with near porn thrown in. It looked like half of the people in it, were two steeps from being raped by squid legs.

    • YsabelGo

      If you keep reading the manga, there are not that many tasting scenes for Yukihara’s terrible dishes.

  9. I have actually heard of food wars and I’m saying this right now the manga is better if this show intrigued you plot wise I think you should read the manga.

  10. Yi Rife

    you know, I study culinary arts and when I heard about a culinary anime i was so hyped, and the way that they present the ideas and method of cooking in this show is great! i love how the characters interact and them some but when i saw this show an meet erina nakiri with the name god tongue that was not the first thing that can to my mind, i am a guy but i was viewing this anime through a culinary aspect and not as any thing else.

  11. All the characters in this show are horngry. 😉

  12. The manga is awesome!

  13. Steward

    I watched it when it first came out and at first it was okay but then I don’t know about you but I fell in love with it considering I wish there was such food that could make me feel that way otherwise I really ship erina and souma and I love the main character souma with he comedic acts and when someone is trying to be serious he just makes it funny although it may not appeal to you I really suggest it to people who just finished the second season of tokyo ghoul finished angel beats plastic memories or anohana as I watched them all in one sitting and really needed this to cheer me up

  14. I’ve been reading this for awhile and the “food gasims” do die down a bit…or at least in the Manga.

  15. I love manga/anime about cooking but to be honest this one has a little too much fanservice for my tastes from what I’ve seen of it. Not a fan of Erina, but I like Soma himself.

  16. Food porn anime is possibly one of the best shows this season. I like all the characters, and I never have watched a food anime before and this show has sparked my interest in the art of cooking. I am 90% positive about buying this anime whenever i get the opportunity.

  17. HeInsds

    i just watch it for the cooking part, and soma is funny

  18. What I like about the show is how over the top it goes. I like the fact that it hasn’t resorted to the tired cliché of the protagonist getting beat up by the many women trope that tends to pop up so much in modern anime. It’s light hearted, cheesy (get it), over the top fun. And I wouldn’t have this show any other way.

  19. I only watch for the cooking and food. So only like….ten minutes of the episodes.

  20. I grew up reading “Kitchen Princess” so it was super interesting to read another cooking manga that’s on a different spectrum, especially the way Yukihara incorporates so many different methods of cooking from around the world into Japanese dishes.

  21. Tera Linkous

    I freaking LOVE Shokugeki no Soma! The ending song is so addicting!

  22. The story really does get better and you find out… Spoilers…….. Soma’s dad went to the school and was the Second Seat on the elite ten. Erika has a crush (Idolizes) Soma’s dad but doesn’t know Soma is his son because his dad went to the school using a different last name. There are some lightly hinted Harem Elements that really aren’t over done in the anime since a lot of the girls have developed “Feels” for Soma. AS I said thought the Harem element is kinda subtle and pretty much the only thing not done in an Over the Top style…. We’re eighteen episodes in. It’s been a fun ride.

  23. Clemons

    I was also really fucking salty about this show when I watched the first episode. You know, it just seemed ridiculous and lame. I wasn’t very fond of the main character, either, ’cause he just seemes so mainstream and unoriginal. His design wasn’t very good either. It eventually got better and better; more hype and hype.

  24. This is one of my favourite Anime

  25. Samatha

    I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first watched this anime, having never read the manga. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it, in all of its over-the-top glory. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good laugh.

  26. Shapiro

    I love that show!

  27. Garland

    This is good!

  28. This show has really impressed me. When it first started airing I really didn’t expect much from it since, as it’s been pointed out, the series starts out a little off-putting with heavy “fan service” elements. That being said, if you stick with the series, the focus quickly travels away from straight up fan service, and more towards competition, good natured comedy, and delicious looking food. Also, speaking in reference to how far along the manga has gotten, we start to see a bit of character reflection on Soma’s part. Initially, he’d been trying to follow in his dad’s footsteps to the point where he was stuck standing in his shadow, but now he is looking to forge his own identity through cooking, not just emulating his father (for those of you up to date with the manga, can we sense some parallels to be used as we begin to approach the issues regarding Erina, her father, and her sense of self in relation to him). All told, I came into this anime without high expectations, and now it’s second season is one of my most anticipated continuations. Give this one a few episodes, I don’t think you’ll regret it.

  29. I haven’t been able to actually watch the series yet, though it is definitely on my list, so I’m afraid I carefully skimmed your article because I do not like spoilers. I did, however, like your article. I can say I’m more intrigued now than I was before, since I only really heard about the fanservice bits. I like that you present this in a way that proves that anime is not just for fanservice, because so many people outside of the fandom think that’s all anime is. As an anime fan, I can watch a show with nudity and barely be fazed because it’s only a joke. I’m glad I’m not the only one trying to present anime in this way.

    • YsabelGo

      I’m glad you enjoyed this article! When my friends told me about this anime, they would always mention the fanservice first, which is why I decided to focus on the food instead 🙂

  30. I absolutely loved this anime! The descriptions of the food and how they cooked it had me licking my lips the entire time haha. I really hope we get a second season!

  31. The fan service in this series is hilariously over the top but the food they make is mouth watering to the point where it makes you want to go out and start making these dishes to try yourself.

  32. Jordan

    I’m pretty sure I gave some feedback for you on this when it was pending, but I just wanted to let you know that thanks to your article I started watching the show via legal streaming. Normally I can’t stand anime that have slightly average animation, but I love cooking so much and find the show so entertaining yet ridiculous that I’m addicted! It’s just insane… I think this show brings the word ‘food porn’ to a whole new level.

  33. Loved Shokugeki no Souma anime! I’m excited to see it return and really enjoyed the blend of cooking trials and tribulations with comedic story. The story of the underdog really got me into it as well. Witnessing the underestimated Soma destroy opponents with his cooking skill is a thrill to see. Unfortunately for me, I leave the show hungry after each viewing haha.

    • YsabelGo

      You should read the manga if you don’t want to wait! The food still looks just as tasty and you can stare at it as long as you want 😛

  34. Kevin Mohammed

    The food always looks so appetizing that I can’t watch this series without having a meal in front of me to prevent me from feeling hungry. XD I have actually been wanting to try out some of the recipes that they put in the manga just for fun and to see what it would taste like. I think it would even give a whole new feel to the series to be able to add in the sense of taste. In general, I just love the series, both anime and manga and I can’t wait for season 2.

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