SPOILERS CONTAINED BELOW
I can’t wait for others to finish the manga, as I am pretty impatient when I like to share my thoughts about something. By the time everyone is caught up I will have forgotten what I was thinking. So here goes! Let me say that I am a big Food Wars fan, its fairly fantastic in terms of story telling and building hype for the cook offs. However I will say that the end left some holes that I would have liked to have filled. Of course its easy to sit on the sideline and make remarks about how something incredible has fallen short. So now is my chance to prove it.
I’ll condense my thoughts into one word: anticlimactic. Shokugeki no Soma was on pretty shaky grounds towards the end. I feel the story up to the defeat of Azami Nakiri had been fairly amazing keeping me up late into the evening. Reading chapter after chapter I was entranced. We had a direction, we had characters with the motivation and drive to oppose antagonists. The chances of success seemed impossible, even with the God tongue on the side of the rebels. After Azami Nakiri’s defeat at the hand of the Soma and the gang, the story had been stuck in seemingly neutral. I was unsure of what new trajectory the story would be taking. The freshmen of Totsuki Academy had defeated the elite ten. I found some of the aftermath of Azami’s defeat to be dumbfounding. For example, why was Erina named the headmaster of the school? At the end of the day she was still going through her studies and a child at that. Without a doubt she was talented at cooking, but seemed overall unqualified to lead the prestigious school. It would have been ok to have Nakiri as the number one seat and Soma as the number two seat, which is honestly what I was expecting.
With the set up for the last phase of the story my initial hesitations and doubts manifested themselves in an ending that left me wanting. It broke a lot of its own conventions with leaving the ending open to interpretation. True we get the build up for the blue event and get a motley crew of cooking villains. The light versus dark chef cooking angle was a bit weird. At the end of the day aren’t the dark chefs just making food? And doing it unconventionally? Wait a moment, unconventional cooking ideas sounds just like Soma. This all aside the antagonist Asahi had motivations which were strange. At the end of the day besides marrying into the God-tongue family, Asahi’s motivations were murky and unclear. While at the end the manga does portray him as hollow and devoid of self in his cooking when he is defeated I wasn’t even interested. I didn’t feel the same need or urgency to stop him from doing what he wanted like I did when it came to Azami’s plans. To sum up Asahi’s motivations he just wanted to marry Erina and feed Erina’s mother? I am sure there was more to it than that, but that is all I was getting at the end.
Of course we could say Asahi was a bad fit for Erina. Even with that logic, people make bad decisions all the time. And who are we as an audience to tell Erina on how to make life decisions? If anyone would have been at fault for marrying Asahi it would have been Erina who apparently lost self-respect because of Asahi’s doting and then his forceful pushing. All it would have taken is a firm no from Erina, who seemed powerless to defy Asahi. As she is essentially the princess of our Food Wars story she had the power to tell him off at any time. She was not only headmaster of Totsuki but the heiress of the Nakiri clan. Even if she wasn’t, she could have always said no to Asahi at anytime and had the power to remove him. She doesn’t even get the chance to prove herself against him, or get the chance to say no in terms of a cook off. Soma does the job for us.
Then we get to the last chapter of the manga, after the rest of the hype of the Blue all we end up with is an incomplete shokugeki. No winners, we don’t even know if Erina’s mother approved of Erina’s cooking. While we do get the final moment of Erina restoring her self-respect, essentially we only restore what we had from the beginning of the last phase of the story. We do get answers as to who Yukihira’s mother is and who Erina’s mother is, big questions I had wanted to know for a while, so I appreciate that. The ending can be interpreted as finding yourself and your own happiness in cooking. However putting aside the happy ending for Erina I was disappointed because the entire show has been proving your point through cooking. It felt pointless without a winner or a substantial conclusion. And I was also left wanting to know if Erina could impress her mother or not through her cooking. Erina’s biggest doubt is never tested, can one god tongue save another god tongue? Of course there may not be a point to testing that theory, but it would have left me with an answer.
I still enjoyed the manga as a whole. And the ending I would rate as an average ending, falling short of exceptional story telling it had displayed before.