What They Say:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Mimasaka Subaru is the Autumn Elections contestant we know the least about, but in just the few moments of the last episode that weren’t dedicated to the match at hand, he’s proven himself to be both a much more meticulous man than those who see his hulking figure first assume and exactly as terrible a person as any stereotypes based on his physical characteristics could imply. He challenges Takumi more disgustingly than anything we’ve seen in this series of varied characters and over-the-top battle sequences based around cooking, and as the match is announced as a Shokugeki, there is absolutely no room for ambiguity in who every person inside or outside of the show is rooting for. If Subaru has a positive relationship with a single human being, we certainly haven’t been given any indication of it yet, and it would be hard to imagine based on what we know of him so far. But between his placement in this tournament so far and his record of having participated in and won 99 Shokugeki prior to this, it’s clear that he has the skills to progress in this tournament, no matter how rotten his personality is in every possible way.
Subaru’s gimmick extends further; not only does he stalk his upcoming opponents to the point of being able to discern exactly how to get them to agree to a Shokugeki and wager their tools, he determines what they’ll be making in the match and with what ingredients so that he can use the exact same ingredients and add something extra to the meal to one-up his opponent’s own specialty. With every twist, Subaru only becomes more despicable, but also more impressive. Most of the chefs we know in this series have some specialties that they’re more likely to make the assigned theme fit into than work outside of altogether, which is more or less in line with real master chefs. Subaru’s ability to perfect trademarks of any specialty and even innovate within them beyond what the apparent expert can manage makes him sound like the most amazing chef in the series, and is his most effective tool in inflicting optimal humiliation and despair upon his opponent. But that also means that Subaru has no cooking of his own, which has been the greatest asset of each main character to achieve any greatness in this story. He’s such a textbook villain that it’s a little hard to fully take him seriously, even in a series that’s wacky enough that we don’t bat an eye at an elderly judge subconsciously turning into a rapping girl.
As climactic as it is in some ways, this match is essentially all setup. In fact, the most important part of the episode is after the ending sequence, something that this series does fairly often. The first round of the main tournament is complete, so it’s time to move onto the final four, all of whom have proven themselves to be the absolute best of the best. This episode was only the first level of grudge match, but the outcome sets up the true showdown, all the frustration that has been built up guaranteed to culminate in the ultimate catharsis, as basic as it all is. The best part, though, which will surely continue to be the case, is how Souma can shake off Subaru’s provocations and beat him at his own game, his utter confidence serving as his greatest weapon.
With the rushed pacing and some less complex characters at the forefront, this season is admittedly falling a bit below its predecessor, but that’s really like comparing any two dishes in the Autumn Elections. All are of an extremely high quality, but one must always win. The result this time isn’t one that anyone is going to like, but it sets up a battle that will be supremely cathartic.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Roku 3, Sceptre X425BV-FHD 42″ Class LCD HDTV.