Anime Review: “Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma”

2The idea of “super schools” has been around for a quite a few years. Schools like these often specialize on one thing and all its variations. Take Naruto for example – kids go to a special school to become ninjas. Food Wars! is no different in this idea, featuring a super elite school, called Totsuki Tea Ceremony and Cooking Academy for high schoolers that want to become the best of the best at cooking.

Many animes these days tend to make their official titles both English and Japanese, and often they mean the same thing. Take Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit – the word Moribito means “guardian,” basically making it redundant. However, Food Wars! title is a little different, even if its similar.

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shokugeki is a term that combines the Japanese words shoku, meaning “meal”, and geki, which refers to a type of spear also referred to as a ji. It’s also the name of cooking competitions students can participate in at the academy. Shokugeki’s can be used to settle a bet, an argument, or in a few cases, save a student from expulsion. So, the best localized version of the Japanese title might be something closer to “Soma’s Food Battles” or “Iron Chef Soma.” But, I think Food Wars! works well since it’s simpler and more eye catching.

The plot itself in the first two seasons basically shows off all of what Totsuki offers. The first few episodes establish that Soma Yukihira is confident in his cooking skills, and rightfully so. He’d grown up working in his father’s diner, competing with the older man, Joichiro Saiba. His transfer exam is judged by the “God Tounge,” Erina Nakiri, who finds him classless, but changes her mind after tasting his food. However, she denies him, and is suprised to see him at the opening ceremony anyway, thanks to her uncle Senzaemon Nakiri, where Soma makes a statement that angers almost every student.

4Despite his new enemies, Soma makes new friends with those in the Polar Star Dormitory, his new home for the next three years. He attends classes and helps the nervous and unsure Megumi Tadokoro, also a member of his dorm, and helps her grow in confidence. They attend the Totsuki summer camp together, which is known for being extra tough, and both make it through.

However, year two has other plans for Polar Star and Soma. A new headmaster, who also happens to be the exiled Azami Nakiri, and Erina’s abusive father, shows up and starts paying off the Elite Ten to change the school to his will. But, after all they’ve been through, the motley crew of Polar Star won’t let things go his way. Soma challenges Azami’s right hand man to a shokugeki and wins despite the paid off judges. There’s still hope for the school yet, even now, and Soma and Megumi won’t let Azami get his way.

Final Words

I feel like the first two seasons was just showing off the idea of this “amazing new idea” that is the cooking academy. Also, food apparently makes people’s clothes fly off. Apparently, this is a popular part of the show, as I saw a lot of people upset when there happened to be less in the third season. This is probably due to the fact that the third season actually seems to have formulations of a plot, which the first two seasons seemed to lack. I feel the third season actually kind of saved the anime in a way, but not quite enough.

I would give this anime…6.75/10 (rating scale)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Girls und Panzer, Kill la Kill, Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)

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“K” Review

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“Did you eat my last tamagomaki?”

I actually saw this anime subbed last year, I believe, but I watched it again dubbed with my best friend and roommate last week. It’s definitely a different experience, and I’m pretty sure Funimation specializes in added a pound and a half of sass whenever they dub something. But this is for sure a somewhat complex anime, and I suppose I didn’t fully understand it the first time I saw it, so a rewatch was kind of nice.

The setting is that of a somewhat futuristic Japan, with advanced technology and a sort of clan system that mimics something of the warring states period (or feudalistic Japan, if you’re familiar). There are seven clans, each with an assigned color, though only two are featured, and the four others only touched on. The red clan, also called HOMRA, appears as a sort of gang with fiercely loyal members, and the blue clan, also called Scepter 4, appears as a police force and more connected to the government.

Each king has a special power, which he is able to give to his clansmen when they join

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“You told him to wear that?”

the clan. The red clan can create and manipulate fire, while the blue clan can freeze and destroy matter. The king of each clan is the most powerful, however, there is a limit. Their power is represented by a giant Sword of Damocles, which appears in the sky when a king begins to fight.

If the king uses too much power, the sword falls and causes physical destruction. This is shown in the prologue, as it has happened before. In the first episode, the leader of the red clan, known as Mikoto Suoh (or the Red King), is captured by the blue clan leader (Reisi Munakata) and put in a special jail. He actually remains there for a majority of the anime in order to prevent him from causing another incident with his sword.

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“I swear I don’t know where her nipples went!”

Now, besides all of this, there is a boy named Yashiro Isana who appears to be a normal high school student. He seems forgetful, as he is known for forgetting his lunch, and often runs around during lunch hour asking for donations, which people gladly give him. He doesn’t seem to care about school, and almost never has his PDA, which is required to enter the school grounds.

However, one day, he’s making his way into town for some errands for the school festival, and a strange man chases him and calls him “The Colorless King.” The man, Kuroh Yotogami, says Yashiro has murdered someone, and he must die. Kuroh’s master, who was the previous Colorless King, instructed him to kill the new Colorless King if that new king is evil. He seems very loyal to his late master, even carrying a recording device with his master words saved on it.

Yashiro insists he has no idea what Kuroh is talking about, and is innocent. With a bit of

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“Alright, slowly, slowly…and drop the giant cake…now!”

trickery, the boy manages to escape, but Kuroh catches up with him, only to be stopped by a strange girl, nude mind you, that apparently was disguised all this time as Yashiro’s pet cat Neko. With a bit of convincing, Kuroh decides to let Yashiro try and prove his innocence. But there’s a bit more to Neko than meets the eye. In fact, there’s more to Yashiro than meets the eye.

In the world of “K,” there are people that possess powers, but are not part of a clan. As it turns out, Neko is one of these – known as a Strain – and she can manipulate peoples senses, and even create false memories. Without revealing too much, we soon find out that Yashiro might not be who he says he is after all, and the Colorless King is not who he says he is either.

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They seem to be overcompensating.

Despite it being quite a complicated setting, “K” manages to pull together an interesting story of friendship, sacrifice, and loyalty. While I feel Neko was a bit of a token character in the beginning, it turns out she simply wants to protect Yashiro and make sure he’s happy. I really enjoyed Kuroh as a character, being a very loyal person myself, and the twist ending I’d forgotten about had me hooked. I also liked the unabashed sass that Yashiro displays early on, even blushing fiercely when Kuroh carries him to safety a few times.

The members of HOMRA were also very endearing. Yata and his fierce loyalty and youth, jumping at the chance to defend his kings honor with a baseball bat or a skateboard was just as attractive as Kamamoto’s dorkiness and short attention span. The characters were very real, even if you only got a short glimpse of them, like the total of twenty minutes the Mikoto gets. There’s also a member of the Scepter 4 that was once part of HOMRA, and this is even explained in somewhat detail.

Final Words:

Man, I really didn’t realize how convoluted this setting was until I started writing this review, but don’t let it scare you off. Despite being somewhat confusing, it’s very well done, with close attention to characters and their interactions. It’s beautifully animated with each battle scene animated as if a wide angle camera was used. A lot of animes avoid long extended scenes because they cost more and require much more work, but “K” spares no expense. You can see it from episode one how much care went into each part. This is probably very close to a perfect anime as one might get. The only thing that brought it down was how confusing the plot was in some parts. But everything does come together in the end.

I would give this anime…9/10 (rating scale)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji), Magi, Tokyo Ravens

 

“Myriad Colors Phantom World” Review

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“My face scares birds! Wow!”

What? Two reviews back-to-back? What’s going on! Well, the truth is, I just really like anime. Can’t you tell?

It’s important to note that going into this anime, I had seen an image on Tumblr that showed the producers(?) of this series in a sort of new headline that read “Myriad Colors Phantom World was just an experiment – producers wanted to see if they could make a bad anime with beautiful animation and still make money.” Now, I’m paraphrasing of course, but whether or not it was an actual article, I can see why it would be fun to see the result.

The story begins right after a strange virus has been released by a mysterious company

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“If only I was an A-cup!”

by accident. The virus is said to have infected the brains of humans in such a way that folk tales and legends become real. So all the youkai (demons) and kami (spirits) in Japan become real. At the same time, teenagers develop strange powers to combat these “phantoms” as they call them to seal them away and stop them from causing trouble.

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“You said this tail wouldn’t be itchy!”

But, sadly, the story is just slightly too unbelievable. It doesn’t really make for a plot where things could possibly work. Even worse, the entire anime is basically what any person that has seen any anime ever. There are huge boobs and lots of strange poses to show off these boobs. There’s also basically every type of anime cliche ever, which made for a pretty predictable story. Yes, it’s amusing to say the least, and of course, the animation is beautiful, but it really just didn’t do it for me in the end.

Final Words:

If there was one word I could use to describe this series it would be “cliched.” The main character is, of course, surrounded by a team of beautiful girls. The characters are pretty flat, even if they are cute. The story is just too unreasonable, and made me say roll my eyes a few times. It’s a neat concept, but with some better writing, it would have done a lot better. There are too many plot-holes to make it satisfying.

I would give “Myriad Colors Phantom World” a… 4/10 (rating scale)

If you like this anime you might also like… Heaven’s Lost Property, Sekirei, Blood+

Picture Credits: Episode 3, Series PV, Episode 7