Shokugeki no Souma – 12

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Hannah: You know Zane, there wasn’t even a battle in this episode, but I was still bowled over by how much power lay in the deliberations, judgement and, aftermath, along with the surprise resolution that actually served both parties, thus transcending the typical Good Guys Win, Bad Guys Lose formula. A Food Wars episode without a Food War might sound transitory, but it sure didn’t feel that way. Instead, what it felt like was a masterpiece.

Zane: I’m inclined to agree, Han, that was an emotional spin cycle right there! Even with the cookoff concluded, it still had all the elements I’ve loved from previous previous showdowns, what with the highly-detailed analysis of the dish and its unique, metaphorical effect on the alumni-judges. At least in this Shokugeki, 7 > 9!

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Hannah: I like that; and I’m no math whiz, as you know. I also liked how the warm, earthy, nurturing flavor of Megumi’s terrine each evoked a different benevolent deity forthe judges. It spoke to them in different ways, but it spoke to them all, touching their hearts in a way Shinomiya’s simply didn’t.

Zane: Yeah, those Megumi gods were the best! I also appreciated how Megumi decided her best option was to try to put forth the best damn veggie terrine she could, freed of the limitations of Shino’s recette. Her Mature-vs.-Fresh treatment impressed the judges, and also laid the groundwork for the excellent character work to follow.

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Hannah: Was your heart, just warmed by the effect of her food when she’s on her game, suddenly cleaved in two upon the sight of those three coins on Shinomiya’s plate, indicating our heroine’s defeat? Even though I knew this wouldn’t be the end for her or Souma, mine certainly was.

Zane: Absolutely. I also knew Shino’s far more technically proficient, real-world-tested, award-winning cuisine was going to blow Megumi’s earnest but sloppy effort out of the water. I mean, the guy has the Pluspol. The PLUSPOL, fer cryin’ out loud! And yet, the suddenness of the judgement, and the look on Megumi’s face as she realizes she’s done, still had impact.

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Hannah: That brings us to the Deus Ex Doujima [Gin], which turned out not to be what I thought. When he put his coin on Megumi’s plate, breaking the rules of the Shokugeki, I thought we were in for a predictable-ish 12 Angry Men scenario in which he convinces the other judges to change their votes one by one. What happened instead was…much better.

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Zane: It was…it so was! Last week Doujima opined that Shino was holding back against a student, and now we see why: he graduated from Totsuki, moved to France, and became the chef-owner of a restaurant, i.e. got to the top so frikkin’ quickly, he finds himself at the top of a precipice, unsure of his next move.

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Hannah: You gotta stop agreeing with me…it’s kinda freaking me out. Anyway. His stagnation is regression. He’s moved forward so forcefully by sheer will and talent, he’s left the heart behind…a heart he finds when he finally takes a bite of Megumi’s cooking.

I’m glad to see the tripartite Megumi-deities show up again, but I’m even more impressed that rather than a goofy ridiculous fantasy played for laughs, which is often how people react to Souma’s food, Megumi’s food creates a pang of nostalgia for Shinomiya, transporting him back to a simpler, safer time, before he was on a “knife’s edge.”

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Zane: It’s a beautiful memory, to be sure. And as you say, the other judges don’t change their votes. Doujima puts his coin on Megumi’s plate, followed by Shino himself. He scoffed at Doujima’s apparent “pity vote” for the loser, but now sees that the power of Megumi’s food must be acknowledged. …Then Hinako, who isn’t even a judge, puts a 500-yen piece (these guys are rich, after all!) on the plate, making the Shokugeki a tie. The rules are bent, but Shino not only approves of the bending, but is a dang part of it.

Hannah: The flashback of Shinomiya with Hinako and the others gives us a glimpse into how far back these guys go, and how they continue to want to look out for him. Doujima allows this shokugeki because he sensed Shinomiya was in a rut and crafted an opportunity to show, not tell, him what he was missing; what he lost sight of: caring for the customers. Showing hospitality, of which Megumi is apparently the goddess, at least in her class. Shinomiya found a way forward, while Megumi found her strength.

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Zane: Well said. I also enjoyed the little scene between Megumi and Souma on their way back to the hotel room. Free from the oppressive concrete and stainless steel of the basement kitchen, they now walk in a cool, soothing night, a great weight lifted. Megumi no knows without a doubt that Souma is a good person, someone she wants to keep cooking with for a long time yet, and thanks him for helping her get that opportunity.

Hannah: Yes, if it weren’t for his reckless gambit, she’d be packing her bags for home. But to his credit, Souma doesn’t take credit; he only provided a nudge—breaking through the light mesh of Shinomiya’s unfairness—in order to bust through the brick wall and inspire both the judges and the chef who would’ve expelled her, Megumi herself had to rise to the occasion and show what she’s made of…and she did.

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Zane: So, all’s well that ends well! Except when Megumi goes ahead, Souma expresses his intense displeasure with losing, smacking his fist against a wall so hard his friends notice it when he returns to the hotel room. However well things ended, he still drew, rather than beat, Shino, and Doujima saved both their asses. Even as the sous chef, he takes responsibility, and will likely take the draw as a bitter pill of wisdom: as we saw from Shino’s rise, you don’t always win.

Hannah: And that brings us to the midpoint of this awesome show that blends your love of cooking with my love of intense battles. I’m really looking forward to the second half, which I’m sure will be just as entertaining a watch.

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Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen – 02

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After being stabbed by Lune, Apollo escapes from Kanon and sends a warning to the other goddesses. Haqua determines that Kanon has about a week to live unless they can clear the ancient demon magic, which Diana says will require the remaining four sisters. Keima forms and operates under the theory that the goddesses are all within his former conquests. He narrows the list down to Kosaka Chihiro, Takahara Ayumi, Goidou Yui, Kujou Tsukiyo, and Shiomiya Shiori, approaching them one by one to gauge whether they remember him and confessing his love to them, with varying results. By the end of two days, he concludes that all five remain potential hosts for the four remaining goddesses.

This episode operates under the assumption its audience knows a formidable amount of backstory on all of Keima’s former conquests. Some even happened in OVAs we haven’t watched, but that’s okay; one is some astronomer, and the other is a rich girl who is now acting like a boy. As for Chihiro, Ayumi, and Shiori, we know them. It’s interesting to watch all the girls’ reactions to Keima as he undertakes his most challenging mission yet: re-conquering all five of them simultaneously in an effort to summon the remaining goddesses to aid Diana in saving Kanon’s life. This is a tall task even for someone used to multiple simultaneous conquests in the gaming world.

That’s because all the girls he means to re-conquer inhabit the same space, so he has to re-conquer them without any of them getting the idea that there’s a fourth-party beyond him and Kanon to deal with. While in most harems, the guy in the middle is an oblivious milquetoast, Keima is very much aware of the danger of creating love polygons, and his intricate strategy depends on him being able to keep the girls separate as he works on them. Keima is relying on Haqua to assist him in this and other things, and in their interactions Haqua’s opinion of him improves (despite his walking in on her preparing for a bath) as she sees just how resolved he is to save Kanon.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

The World God Only Knows III – 01

Apollo / Nakagawa Kanon

When not playing dating sims, Katsuragi Keima continues to extract loose souls from troubled young women with the help of the demon Elucia de Lute Ima. After summarizing his past conquests, he heads to school with Elsie and is stopped by his neighbor and childhood friend Ayukawa Tenri, who suddenly grows a halo and changes demeanor. It turns out the goddess Diana is possessing her, and wants Keima to marry her so she can gain power and restore the balance between heaven, earth, and hell that’s currently off.

Meanwhile, J-pop idol and Keima’s classmate and former conquest Nakagawa Kanon is a vessel for Diana’s older sister Apollo. As a result of the presence of these “Jupiter Sisters”, both Tenri and Kanon remember everything about their romantic exploits with Keima. Kanon latches on to Keima in the middle of a test, fearful of someone chasing her, and Apollo comes out, having recieved a boost, and then withdraws. Apollo is then captured by Lune, a demon, member of Vintage and part of the movement to restore hell to its former glory.

While sometimes our opinions of various anime can vary wildly, we pride ourselves on being mostly consistent. So we went back to the review of the last episode of TWGOKII to re-familiarize ourselves with our thoughts on the close of that series:

“Keima is simply doomed for life to make girls fall in love with him and then lose them”

“For all the girls whose lives he’s changed by releasing them from loose souls, Keima remains stubbornly static”

“None of the relationships he forms ever have any lasting emotional effect on him”

“If another season is just going to continue the by-now tired formula, it’s going to be very hard to watch”

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Once Keima learned that none of his conquests would stick once the loose soul was extracted, he stopped caring about the aftermaths of those conquests. And why wouldn’t he? The girls went back to the way they used to feel about him. The reset button was pressed, again and again. For Keima, emotional detachment was the key to avoiding getting his heart broken every time.

This inclusion of the Jupiter Sisters, while seeming a bit tacked-on, and the resulting restored memories of his conquests, may be the kick in the pants this series needs to regain some freshness – and our interest. It also helps that there are no other series we’re watching that air when it airs, otherwise we’d definitely give it the boot.

In a subtle but clever parallel to his new situation and impending role this season, before shutting down his game center, he saves all of his in-progress dating sims. The goddesses serve as memory cards for real life, having saved the conquests Keima believed to be deleted. But it brings up a potential fatal flaw in this resurgence: if the goddesses leave the girls, surely they’ll take the memories too. We’ll see how it goes…for now.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Stray Observations:

  • This episode summarizes Keima’s conquest of Goidou Yui in the manga, as well as his conquest of Tenri in an OVA we never got around to watching. We got the jist, though!
  • Every time Keima’s conquest lost her memories it hurt a little bit, but we really liked Kanon’s arc, so we’re glad the series starts off with her remembering everything.
  • Way back, we also said the reset button prevented Keima from being in a harem situation, since only one girl liked him at a time. But that would no longer seem to be the case. It will be interesting to see how Keima, who’s played dozens of dating sims at once, deals with a real-life version of that situation!