Erina Nakiri is one of the most human characters from Shokugeki no Soma. She is the princess of the story, the girl who has the power and pedigree. The Nakiri clan has been one of the most influential in this cooking universe, the only clan to have run the prestigious Totsuki school that we know of. Beyond the pedigree, Erina also has a terrifying talent for cooking with her unique god tongue. The ability to perfect any dish and by the same token judge others dishes to a perfect degree. So how is it that Erina gets shattered towards the end of the Shokugeki no Soma manga with all the talents, power and pedigree that she has? We get to see a fragile side of Erina. As it turns out Erina is human just like the rest of us, and with her ego shattered falls for the whims of Asahi under the guise of a romantic match.
I am no match maker, but a marriage relationship between Erina and Asahi would have been a tragic one. The transition from Totsuki headmaster to Asahi’s potential wife wasn’t a sudden move. It was a slow infiltration by Asahi. He gathered information about the key players in Totsuki. Asahi was obsessed with beating Soma and then making Erina a marriage partner. After beating Soma in a shokugeki, Asahi turns his sights on the real prize, Erina who is the ticket into the Nakiri clan. Asahi gives her flowers and dotes on her giving Erina the feel that she is in a shoujo manga. But the feeling that he actually cares about Erina seems to be a hollow one as Asahi is a self-serving character. One of his goals was to show he was better than both Joichiro and his son, and weirdly wishing he was Joichiro’s son. He is seemingly obsessed with proving to everyone that he is the best cook that ever existed while being devoid of the actual passion for cooking. Erina is at first able to resist the wiles of Asahi but her support structure breaks down.
Erina is no longer able to resist Asahi after she is captured by the Noir chefs, who seem to be true villians of the cooking world. Now for a moment you will have to put away the fact that once Erina is taken by Asahi that no one does really anything about it, which yes doesn’t make sense given the fact that Erina is our princess and not only would the Nakira clan send people but also the school would send people to find her. Don’t let that writing move boggle your mind too much. After Erina’s capture we see a complete deterioration of her self-confidence and ego. She is left isolated to fend for her own, thrown to the wolves of the cooking world. Its not surprising she finally caves into Asahi and agreeing if he can beat her in a shokugeki she will marry him. It is a move that makes no sense, really its a move of exasperation and desperation. She is driven into a desperate corner without the help and support of the other students of Totsuki.
Eventually help arrives at the Blue event in the form of Soma and others of Erina’s emotional support squad. Erina remains fairly distant the whole event. She is physically separated due to her cooking skills. Soma needs to storm the castle by exceptional cooking skills to reach her. When we do reach Erina we learn more about why she is so despondent. She is concerned with her mother, feeling that she cannot overcome the desperation of the god tongue which is a fate she is supposed to share. While under the guise of trying to win Blue and win her mothers approval in cooking I get the sense that Erina is trying to prove something to herself more than to anyone else. Her self doubt is evident as she thinks that Asahi’s cross knives ability may be the only way to save her mother from desperation. That is where Soma proves her wrong. The simple diner chef comes and saves Erina.
Erina is the only character that feels like it has lots of depth after the defeat of Azami, the rest feels shallow in comparision. I suppose we have explored the easier cases of the other students as we have watched them develop and grow as budding chefs. Erina was left behind in emotional development as she had yet to confront her own fears, the inevitability of being swallowed by the god tongue. While its easy to say she was blessed with great talents and prosperity so she shouldn’t have problems its clear she had more problems than most. While I find the ending of Shokugeki no Soma average at best, lets give a nod to Erina who had the best story moments of the ending. It’s good to have you back Ms. Nakiri.