In the world of food manga, few titles are as famous or intense as Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma. The series is written by Yuto Tsukuda, drawn by Shun Saeki, and features recipes by Yuki Morisaki. The manga’s twenty-eighth volume is now out from Viz Media, and it collects chapters 236-244. The Central arc is still in full swing, and the rebels’ battles against Totsuki’s elite are as intense as ever. Does this volume effectively build off other recent installments’ momentum? Is it good?
Given this series’ premise, its quality can be made or broken by how well the food and processes of cooking are presented. Artistically, this volume excels on those fronts. Saeki’s illustrations are mouth-watering thanks largely to his attention to detail. The textures throughout are fantastically rendered so the various dishes always look spot-on in terms of how they would feel to the touch. From crumbly toppings to thick pastes, all manner of ingredients are believably drawn. Even the plating and general presentation are divine, as Saeki shows off dishes that look like they belong on fancy dining tables where only the rich could afford to feast.
The cooking in this volume also succeeds from a character development perspective. We get a great sense of the characters’ personalities and tribulations from watching them cook. Tadokoro’s quiet resolve is likened to that of a resilient boxer. Aldini and Eizan’s match, meanwhile, is a battle of wits that shows off their respective scheming styles and abilities to respond to sudden changes. The matches’ senses of intensity also owe a lot to Tsukuda’s dramatic narration. It’s very clear just how much the results of the tournament mean to its participants. The stakes in this series have never felt higher than they do here.
The comedy and metaphors in this volume are also excellent. Saeki frequently utilizes chibi-style faces when delivering gags, and these look great. The process of cooking and the judges’ reactions to tasting dishes are often depicted with elaborate and over-the-top metaphors that enhance both comedic and dramatic moments. My favorite of the judges’ reaction shots in this volume is one of two judges naked and stuck inside of a barrel as it plunges down a waterfall, swept up in their food’s delicious flavor.
On the more badass side there’s a great armed duel between Yukihira and Saito. Saito is depicted as a swordsman whose every strike breaks Yukihira’s blades. Yukihira keeps pulling out weapon after weapon however, and his arsenal isn’t limited to just swords. He brings guns to a knife-fight, and it’s a great metaphor for the way he meets Saito’s expertise with a variety of counter-techniques.
My main cons with this volume pertain to its second and third cooking matches. The middle match between Tadokoro and Akanegakubo is enjoyable, but it packs less punch compared to the rest of the bouts. Though Tadokoro keeps getting short moments to shine, none of these probe very deeply into her motivations or personal growth. The general flow of the action here is also a tad less exciting than the rest of the volume. The third match, meanwhile, is thrilling to read about but its pacing gets a bit rushed toward its conclusion.
All in all, Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Vol. 28 is yet another enjoyable installment in the Central arc. The artwork is fantastic, both in terms of the food looking delicious and the characters having hilarious reactions. The cooking matches are thrilling to watch unfold, and we get good glimpses into the various chefs’ psyches. On the downside, the middle and final bouts suffer a bit from rushed pacing and a comparative lack of depth. Nonetheless, the series continues to stay strong.