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Food Wars! Season 4 Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read
It's pretty well-animated for the most part with a lot of payoff in the food porn moments

A shorter and tighter season that’s still tasty.

What They Say:
The ultimate Regimental Food War continues as the culinary rebels led by Soma and the members of Kyokusei square off against epicurean elitist Azami and the Totsuki Ten. At stake – the future of dining across Japan. Because if the rebels fail, Azami intends to impose his own tastes and techniques on the entire restaurant industry!

But the fine dining control freak has made a serious mistake in threatening the futures of Soma’s friends and family, as while the rebels may seem less experienced overall, this is ultimately a clash of skill, dedication, and, most of all, taste. That may be a recipe for disaster for the seasoned veterans! There are truffled times ahead, and it’s anyone’s guess as to whose goose will ultimately be cooked in the mind-roasting season-long battle

The Review:
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 2019, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes for this set are spread across two discs so there’s plenty of room to work with as it goes with a standard nine/three format. 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 the 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 two Blu-ray discs held without hinges. The front cover gives us a good-looking piece that isn’t the usual key visual, much to my surprise, with the core trio together in their uniforms looking serious and intense in an engaging way with some solid color design to it. The logo is kept to the bottom and it’s decent enough even with the almost garish mix of colors it employs. The back cover goes for a decent strip of shots from the show near the top while the artwork piece of Soma from the front cover looks good here with the expression and blade. The summary of the premise is well-handled and we get a good breakdown of production credits and a clean and accurate technical grid. 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 groupings, such as the front cover piece but tighter together, but unlike the earlier seasons doesn’t go for copious displays of food. 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 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 as well as a couple of the Japanese promos.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the third season in 2017 and 2018 ran across two cour and provided a lot of fun, the fourth season landed in the fall of 2019 and delivered a single-cour experience – with a fifth and final season arriving in 2020. The longevity of this property really surprised me overall even with the popularity of the manga and that its creator could stretch it out to thirty-six volumes. The grind of it probably took its toll but in the end, it provided a lot of fun for a lot of people in providing some solid food porn, competition material, and softcore style material at the same time with the characters. But, in the end, it’s another Shonen Jump tournament project and that means a lot of baseline familiarity with how it’s going to play out. Not that there’s anything wrong in that. It’s successful because people enjoy it.

The Regimental Food War continues after the first round wrapping up at the end of the previous season so we head fully into the second round here. This dominates the set and pushes our favorites into some pretty good material as they come up with creative delights while facing very specific challenges. This is always something that I love seeing because they have to use specific ingredients and there’s seemingly no real limit to what they can creatively come up with. The opening one, for example, involves one team using green tea while the other focuses on cayenne pepper. There’s a lot you can work with (though alligator meat isn’t something that would come to mind quickly in my thinking) in order to use the specific ingredients to make something that will win over the judges. And you have some judges with some really refined tastes in events like these, so the teams really have to shine beyond the food itself but also in what it actually is and what it involves.

One of the main competitions that delights early on is the way that we get Kuga and Tsukasa competing since Kuga has real issues with Tsukasa. It’s a lot of fun seeing them competing with each other after having to work together earlier in the season and the kind of intensity that they bring to it. But as good as Kuga is, he just can’t seem to make it past Tsukasa and there’s a lot of enjoyable visuals in how all that plays out. Particularly since, at this point in the larger competition with the Big Ten, the whole thing just takes down Tsukasa from going forward as he’s exhausted by it. Even Rindo in her competition win puts her in a place that has just pushed her past her limits. Of course, there’s Erina waiting in the wings to take advantage of things.

The third round finishes up just a bit past the halfway mark of this set and that lets us move into the fourth and final round with its new configuration of participants. The matches are pretty good in general as one would expect with the creative combinations that come up but I was mostly just delighted to watch Erina going up against Momo for a bit and seeing just how surprised Momo is by how the match plays out. While not a huge culinary person myself, I watch a ton of cooking shows and world food-travelogue type pieces and the chef’s that always amaze the most are ones like Erina who either don’t seem to have a comfort zone because they’re constantly seeking new ways to do things or those that know how to escape their comfort zone. Erina is definitely in that realm and it’s what continually gives her an edge.

But we also see the other part that makes Erina as talented as she is because as this competition progresses overall, she ends up in a rough place against Azami during the challenge and has to get help from Soma. But that’s not a surprise since within this series, and the Shonen Jump framework overall, friendship is what brings us to a better place. Though they may compete in the various challenges, at the end when they go out into the world in full, the best things they’ll produce are when they’re done with friends and those that they work with at whatever restaurants they engage in. So having Erina acknowledge this in the way she does, first with accepting Soma’s help and then really coming to understand that it’s her friends that help drive her passion, it comes together well while dealing through the various epilogue elements of the season to set up for the next and final one.

In Summary:
Food Wars is still that kind of empty-calorie show that I just enjoy consuming, especially in a binge fashion like this. The series extolls the usual Shonen Jump positives that I’m glad they do with friendship even amid competition and the working together angles but there’s also just a kind of familiarity that comes with all of this in the same way that live-action cooking competition game shows have. We just get to experience it through the form of anime and with the narrative storyline of these younger characters and their lives. It’s pretty well-animated for the most part with a lot of payoff in the food porn moments but it’s pretty much what we’ve been getting the whole time so you know what to expect. I like this season better with its episode count as it didn’t feel like it was just so much all at once, at least for those of us who binge this stuff hard. Sentai’s release is solid here with a lot to like in its presentation that will make for an enjoyable experience.

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: February 23rd, 2021
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
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.

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