What They Say:
“The Secret in the First Bite”
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Souma’s wager at the end of the previous episode was significant enough to warrant the first episode of the season to focus on the buildup to a match of the Autumn Elections, rather than just speeding through one of the matches before it’s over. The fact that we’re now beginning the next level of the tournament could also be a reason, but there’s no denying the weight of the protagonist of a cooking series vowing to give up on cooking if he loses against an undefeated mastermind. There are two perspectives to take when someone does what Souma has just done. On one hand, that level of confidence shows how much he believes that Subaru’s methods aren’t enough to take down someone with a true passion for the art and for all others who earnestly share in it and deserve to have their tools of the trade returned, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say there’s a pretty good chance that the series isn’t going to end halfway through this season. On the other hand, to even allow the possibility of giving up on everything that defines him is appalling to all of the friends he’s made in his time as Totsuki, especially as he goes on to serve Subaru the baseline for the dish he’ll be competing against him with. This is the conundrum those around Souma find themselves in, as the only reason they should take issue with it is if they believe that he might actually lose despite all of his confidence. It’s a tense period for them.
As it turns out, Souma doesn’t spend much of the prep time with them anyway, and instead allows middle school journalist Mitsuru to have his story in exchange for providing taste-testing services. Mitsuru is a good sport, but hardly the proper judge of this level of culinary nuance. Even as Mitsuru is entranced by every aspect of each new version of the dish, Souma acknowledges that he doesn’t stand a chance with it. In this process, he makes the most interesting observation of this matchup: even though Subaru is the antithesis of Souma’s crowd-pleasing love of cooking, Souma’s modus operandi for competitions has generally been using his opponent’s specialty against them and finding new ways to outdo them within it, just like Subaru. Granted, he doesn’t go as far as choosing the exact same dish, but his issue is more of two competitors doing this and resulting in an infinite loop, leaving Souma to look within himself and discover the true specialty that speaks to him. Subaru is ever a master of his own craft, though, engaging in creepy but hilarious image training that is impossibly accurate to Souma’s process.
Naturally, Souma calls upon the one person whose taste he can trust above all else, even if she’s not always the most honest with her feelings, Erina. The beginning of her scene is the most comical (no pun intended) we’ve had of her all season, reminding me of how much I look forward to her coming back into the spotlight in the future. Her harsh reaction is actually believable this time, but she’s not the blonde tsundere with a crush on Souma she can’t admit to that contributes the most to his realization of how to proceed; Nikumi is. We get to see a bit of what he learned as the next round begins, but the final words before then are the most important: the only thing left for him to do is enjoy the cooking. That’s exactly what will defeat Subaru, who lacks any real love.
Souma’s declaration has made major waves, and has warranted an entire episode preceding the match to see him prepare something to take down the seemingly unstoppable Subaru. It’s less exciting as a result, but does include fascinating introspection regarding his similarities to Subaru.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Roku 3, Sceptre X425BV-FHD 42″ Class LCD HDTV.