What They Say:
Ever since he was little, Soma Yukihira’s main goals have been to beat his father in a cooking contest and take over the family diner. That’s why, when his dad suddenly announces that he’s shutting the restaurant down and sending Soma to cooking school, Soma is shocked. However, Tohtsuki Academy is no ordinary cooking school.
This elite institution is filled with culinary giants like Erina “God Tongue” Nakiri, who does her best to keep a lowly short-order like Soma from even making it inside the door. However, if the snobs can dish it out, Soma can serve it up, and when he learns that only a handful of the students manage to graduate every year, he swears that the only way he’ll leave is as number one!
The audio presentation for this series is done up in its original Japanese language form along with an English language dub, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is primarily dialogue driven with what it wants to do but it does have some bigger moments along the way with reactions and some of the over the top designs on how the food presentations go, which works the forward soundstage well. It’s not looking to go overly big or creative but it has some fun moments and it gives it the additional life that it needs. Both tracks handle things well, though the English side feels a bit louder, but in the end they’re clean and clear and come across very well as they engage the viewer with a problem free experience.
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twenty-four episodes for this set are spread across three discs in a nine/nine/six format so there’s plenty of room to work with. Animated by JC Staff, the series works some basic designs with characters from time to time so they can really go all in on the budget with the bigger scenes and all of the food material. The characters aren’t simplistic but they’re more manageable and fit into the style of story pretty well, though we do get some that are naturally more detailed – or at least more attention is given to their bouncy moments. Color design is big in a show like this and it really does some fantastic stuff with the food porn sections but the show as a whole as well, with a solid feeling throughout that gives it some nice weight to things. It’s a great looking encoding that delivers the design of the show very well.
The packaging design for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case with a hinge inside to hold two of the three discs. The front cover gives us a familiar key visual piece with Soma in the middle as he’s surrounded by the various characters that he’s involved with throughout the season. It’s done to a white background with an orange fade along the bottom that uses the same pieces as the logo so it looks decent but generally has that familiar aspect to it of just being kind of bland. It’s not bad but it’s just simple poses when you kind of want some sort of intense culinary aspect with the richness of the food or the sauciness of some of the fanservice elements. The back cover carries the same kind of color design over from the front but with heavier emphasis on the orange blocks that holds the white center strip better. This is busy with some nice food pieces mixed in, some good shots from the show, and a simple but clean summary of the premise. The production credits are laid out in a straightforward manner while the technical grid breaks down what to expect accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for this release go for a simple but effective approach with static menu screens for each disc. These use various pieces of the Japanese cover artwork to good effect as we get the main characters in different pairings while assorted dishes of beautiful food are arrayed behind them. With a white background given to a kitchen style design it’s bright and colorful in all the right ways. The navigation is kept to the left that’s also done in white, though I thought they’d go for a menu design, where the text is in easy to read against the white while the episode numbers are done up in plates similar to how each episode starts off. Selections are quick and easy to make with a minimal approach here both as the main menu and the pop-up menu, making for a solid experience in getting you to the show quickly with a nice touch of thematic elements.
The only extras included with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Based on the manga by Yuto Tsukuda and illustrated by Shun Saeki, Food Wars is a twenty-four episode anime series that aired in the spring 2015 season. Animated by JC Staff with Yoshitomo Yonetani as the director, the series delivers the kind of shonen material that you expect but also serves up some great food porn. I ended up watching this over two days (twelve episodes each day) and that may color my view a good bit compared to those that soaked it up weekly. Some meals are meant to be devoured, some are meant to be savored. I suspect this is one that’s better in bite sized portions rather than an all you can eat buffet as by the end of it I was feeling somewhat bloated, lost, and a little confused. But still satisfied.
The show focuses on Soma Yukihira as its central character, a young man of fifteen who is an apprentice chef with his father at the family restaurant. He’s good at what he does but his father is on a whole other level. And that’s something that causes a lot of trouble here early on as his dad, Joichiro, ends up overseas for a bit do cook up something special and that leaves Soma in charge of the restaurant. That, in turn, has him dealing with a conniving woman who tries to get the restaurant closed so she can build something else on it. It’s a fun enough setup and one that resolves with our hero winning the day but it gets Joichiro to realize that his son needs some real experience. So he sets himself off to travel the world for three years and enrolls his son into the well-respected Totsuki Culinary Academy where he’s going to face all manner of challenges that you’d expect in a shonen based property.
And that’s where the show kind of lost me a little bit in some ways because it turns to culinary battles for pretty much the whole run. It’s like a Food Network competition show, which is all fine and good because I’ve watched those and I see plenty of other similar shows thanks to family members who are heavily invested in watching them. Soma’s arrival at the academy has him meeting a range of other very skilled chef’s with all their creative aspects as they bring something new while there are a few low ranking ones in the mix that are just there to sow discord. A lot of those get weeded out early in favor of the more “name” characters with creative costumes (that they wear all the time) that can offer up quirky personalities to give as challenge to Soma. He’s got real talent that has been fostered in unusual ways since he was a young child, thanks to his father, but these are all familiar concepts and the execution is largely by the numbers.
The other area that the show goes well in on animation, to the delight of the viewer for a different reason, are the reaction shots to eating the food. While there are comical moments to be had throughout there are also some very fanservice/sexually oriented pieces, often from the women, as they become so enamored of what they eat. These are amusing to watch because it does take you out of the moment while providing a way to showcase just how intense the sensations of the delicacies are. Sometimes it does go further than it should (some tentacle material toward the end of the series, for example) but others fit within what you’d expect out of a shonen series looking to entice young men to read it. The designs are nice done, there’s some with a really good sense of eroticism to it, and they’re not done as constantly as one might believe based on some of the early visuals when the series first came out.
Food Wars is fun. I enjoyed the show with what it did with the food, the way it didn’t go so completely over the top like some other shows with the competitions, and the fanservice elements of it. But it’s also a show that doesn’t give you anything to really latch onto outside of the simple competitive school narrative and the characters themselves are largely one-dimensional when it comes to who they are, which is probably the biggest problem with it. There’s a lot to be said for taking this one on in small doses as opposed to gorging on it but in the end it’s what you’d expect from a shonen series of this nature. Sentai’s release is solidly put together with a fun dub, a great looking encode, and a solid package that will make fans happy they can own it and at such a good price and footprint on their shelf.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: August 15th, 2017
Running Time: 600 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.