It was a long time coming, but we’re finally at the end of the team shokugeki that will determine who will control Totsuki Academy—Central or Soma and Erina.
Story: Yuto Tsukuda
Art: Shun Saeki
Contributor: Yuki Morisaki
Translation: Adrienne Beck
Production: James Gaubatz, Mara Coman (Touch up art and lettering), Alice Lewis (design), Jennifer LeBlanc (editor)
What They Say:
The Régiment de Cuisine has reached its final bout! The Council sends in its two best chefs, Tsukasa and Rindo, while the resisters’ hopes ride on Soma and Erina. In this battle of true gourmet between father and daughter, who will walk away the victor—Azami or Erina?!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Raise your hand if you did not see it coming that the final battle for all the marble(d cakes and wagyu beef) would pit Soma and Erina against the top two of the Council of Ten: Tsukasa and Rindo. Of course it would have to end this way. One could say it was foreordained.
That doesn’t make it wrong. While the Resistance has many talented chefs, especially the former Council members on their side, Soma is the title character, after all, and possessed of special qualities that make all the chefs around him…better. His relentless drive towards novelty and exploration gives wind to the sails of all chefs who might venture upon the dark waters of the sea of culinary unknowns. On the other side to that is the once icy perfection of Erina Nakiri, the Divine Tongue who is compared to a compass, the one who will show the path forward. Her father Azami had planned for her to indicate only the paths that have been taken before. But exposure to Soma has “corrupted” her from his viewpoint, turning her in directions she should not go.
From Erina’s own standpoint, she has been liberated. Freed from Azami’s prison of convention, Erina can now do many things we, the readers, could not have imagined well back in the beginning of this whole saga.
For one thing, she can laugh and giggle in the middle of a highly stressful cooking contest that has real stakes on the line.
In some ways, the conclusion was ordained a long time ago. No, not by simple authorial fiat. But Yuto Tsukuda showed his hand well before this final climax. After all, we know that Senzaemon had requested that Joichiro send his son Soma to Totsuki, where from all we learned from the past, Joichiro, while he certainly bears no ill will towards Senzaemon (quite the contrary), probably does not look upon his past at Totsuki with entirely happy feelings. He wasn’t interested in turning Soma into a Totsuki prodigy. He wasn’t interested in his son becoming a chef at all.
Once Soma came to Totsuki, Senzemon had already put in place all the pieces he would need to counter Azami’s takeover, though he might originally have just wanted someone who would be able to break Erina free from the cage created by Azami with the “special training” that created the “Divine Tongue.” So Soma and the others, the “diamond generation” as Senzaemon called them, were specifically brought to Totsuki in order to shake things up.
I am not going to recount all the details of the final bout. Tsukasa, of course, creates a dish of sheer perfection, as he always does. Rindo made a highly unusual flavor enhancer for her appetizer that came before it. Of course the judges would be impressed (and we finally learn Azami’s odd “inheritance” from joining the Nakiri family—he has his own version of disrobing that is…well, it’s different). The two of them displayed a friendship that we know is genuine, despite how different the two of them really are.
In comparison, Soma and Erina remain fire and ice, oil and water, cat and dog. Even at this stage, the two of them cannot be a “team” the way that Eishi and Rindo can. This is no surprise. Soma has from the moment we met him been someone who thrives on competition. Despite being hopeless against his overpowered father, Soma continues to challenge him whenever they are together. Erina is just another challenger to him. It makes sense that instead of cooperating, they would be competing. Where Erina has really changed is that once, she would not have acknowledged Soma as a worthy opponent. Now, she shows us how much she has learned from him. I will leave it at that, so that you may see what Erina has gained and how that proves to be decisive in her victory over Tsuksasa—and more importantly, over her father.
The volume ends with the decision being effectively rendered. We need to wait for the next volume to see the aftermath.
It was about time that the cooking battled ended. Yes, a long, sustained tournament arc is classic for shounen manga. After all, you want to keep the readers hooked for, well, months if you can. But all good things must come to an end and it was about time for the Régiment de Cuisine to conclude. Looking back at the entire series from this vantage point, it does make some sense. This story has been about Soma’s quest through the “wasteland” of cuisine, but it has as much been about Erina’s journey out of her prison and into that same wasteland. Now we have to see what Erina will make of her newfound freedom.
The final competition was to create a complete two-course meal that was truly gourmet…as defined by Azami Nakiri, who had usurped the position of head judge for this final round. Eishi Tsukasa and Rindo Kobayashi of course provided a two-course meal that spoke to their close friendship in how well the appetizer fed into the main course. Tsukasa, naturally, brought out his true specialty, a venison dish that was pure perfection. Soma and Erina, just as naturally, were at loggerheads right up to the very end. But that friction produced something…magical. So ends the Régiment de Cuisine and this current arc. We now await the aftermath.
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A-
Package Rating: A-
Age Rating: Teen+ (16+)
Released By:Viz Media
Release Date: June 4th, 2019