When it comes to delivering pure over-the-top fun, few manga are more consistent than Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma. The last volume marked the start of the duel between Central and the resistors, with thrilling matches marked by unconventional ingredients and cooking methods. The latest installment, Vol. 27, collects chapters 227-235. These feature the judgment after the tournament’s second bout, as well as most of the third bout. Do creators Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki, and Yuki Morisaki mix drama and culinary creativity together as effectively as usual? Is Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma Vol. 27 good?
As per usual, one of this manga’s greatest strengths is its artwork. The flow of movement across panels is very well-done. The cooking scenes are imbued with a great sense of energy that keeps one enraptured even when the characters are just pouring sauce in a pan or performing some other theoretically mundane task. Of course, there’s nothing mundane about the food in this series. Saeki’s line-work and shading are packed with details and textures that make the food look so realistic you’ll find yourself salivating.
The characters look great as well. This continues to be a very comedic series, thanks largely to Yukihira and co.’s outrageous facial expressions and body language. Saeki contrasts these humorous moments from the rest of the story by rendering events with far more or far less minute detail than usual. Some of the most striking images in this volume are of Eizan making frighteningly well-detailed angry faces at his competitors. Also memorable are the metaphorical splash pages where characters are depicted in situations analogous to how they feel about the food they’ve just eaten. At one point a judge is drawn trapped inside a magician’s box that’s been pierced with swords which just narrowly avoid cutting her. It’s extreme, but entertainingly so.
On the downside, this volume suffers from some strange pacing choices. The judgment for the second bout is glossed over very quickly, so we don’t get as long-winded and imaginative of tangents about the dishes as expected or desired. Tadokoro’s training with Shinomiya is also rushed, so we don’t get a very firm understanding of how or why it helped her grow. This feels like a missed opportunity for great character work, especially since Tadokoro hasn’t gotten much time in the spotlight lately.
Thankfully, the characters are still as lovable as always. Yukihira continues to be charmingly determined yet dimwitted, and the Elite Ten members aligned with Central are very intimidating. The character who gets the most development is easily Takumi Aldini. He’s changed a lot since he was first introduced roughly 200 chapters ago, and there’s a flashback to his internship that provides insight into how he’s polished his skills. He’s become easy to root for, and watching all the protagonists strive for victory makes it easy to get pumped up and excited.
Overall, Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Vol. 27 is an enjoyably over-the-top read. The artwork is superb and the comedy throughout is great. Unfortunately, multiple parts of the story feel rushed. As a result it’s harder to get fully immersed in the drama when compared to past installments. Nonetheless, this continues to be one of the most fun shonen series currently on shelves.