Shokugeki no Souma 3 – 13 – The God Tongue Officially Joins the Rebellion

…Aaaand we’re back. Good! I missed my Food Wars. The Fall cour of the third season ended with Erina learning that the irritating pest and hack chef Yukihira Souma’s father is none other than her beloved Saiba-sama.

Eishi gives a school-wide address about impending Advancement Exams that will no doubt drive this cour, and makes it clear in no uncertain terms that those who stray from Central’s edicts won’t make the cut. The morale among Polar Star’s ranks sinks at the news.

Erina, to her credit, doesn’t go on an “avoiding Souma” binge to forestall telling him what she’s learned. Instead, she comes to his room, in her nightgown, no less! She has something to say, wants Souma to hear it, and it can’t wait.

What she essentially tells him is that she’s lost. As God Tongue from a young age, tasting and cooking were merely tasks to be performed, and she never derived any fun from any of it…until on a rare day off she got to sample some of Saiba’s cooking. From then on, she got it: cooking could be fun and good enough to win over the God Tongue!

But not long after experiencing that fun, her father began her “education” in “good food is only what I say it is” culinary orthodoxy. She cannot easily cast aside that conditioning, even if she wanted to, and part of her understands the need for standards to be set and followed, even if Azami goes about it in far to harsh and oppressive a way.

As such, she’s torn between two opposing philosophies. Souma decides to try to put his finger on the scales, so to speak, and get back at her at the same time for telling him his food was disgusting the first time she tasted it. He wants to make something quintessentially Yukihira, to remind her of those fun yet refined flavors Azami tried to condition away, along with her passion for cooking.

Souma’s Polar Star peers worry he may be up to something, but Megumi assures them he’s on a mission to make her understand not only his philosophy, but all their philosophies. The rewards of “awakening” Erina to culinary freedom may be the key to Polar Star’s survival.

Souma ends up preparing a tempura egg rice bowl, the process for making which neither Erina nor the eavesdropping dorm-mates understand, until Souma lets them in on the secret: freezing the egg before coating and frying it. And not just any egg: a low-quality egg that was on sale at the local shops.

Not only does Souma achieve an aroma, texture and flavor that have Erina imagining countless tiny Souma-chickens gently pecking her naked body (yikes, that’s a foodgasm for the books), but he manages to debunk Erina’s firm belief that only the finest, rarest, highest quality ingredients can make a great dish. In this case, a finer egg would be too overwhelming due to the freezer’s effect on the protein.

As expected, Erina never actually says “delicious” as Souma bet he’d make her do, but he does remind her of Saiba, not just in his style of cooking, but how he talks about it. Cooking isn’t about following a book, it’s about taking risks. To paraphrase Julia Child, great cooking requires a multitude of failures. It takes risks that sometimes won’t pan out. And taking those risks is what makes cooking fun.

So even though Erina craftily takes her leave before giving Souma any answers about the taste of his bowl, the effects of the meal inspire her to call for all of Polar Star to assemble out front the next morning. It’s cold, and her first words to them are cold as well, rattling their cages before praising them for helping to teach her that not only is their value in cooking food that is “free”, but that such innovation-through-failure is essential to stave of culinary stagnation.

To that end, she challenges each and every Polar Star member to keep doing what they’ve been doing—cooking free food, failing, learning, and improving—and she’ll summon the full powers of her God Tongue to see to it each and every one of them pass the Advancement Exams. And so, Erina has officially taken a side against her Azami and Central.

I have no doubt that if the dorm-mates can cook food that impresses her, they’ll impress any and all impartial exam judges. The question is, how are they going to get non-Central-sanctioned food to the judges’ table? The Rebellion Continues…

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Shokugeki no Souma 3 – 12

Here we are: at the midpoint of what I assume will be a 24/25-episode third season of Food Wars, and Souma has finally taken it on himself to challenge the First Seat of Totsuki’s Elite Ten.

But it wasn’t arrogance that led him to this position! What would you do if Tsukasa told you Nakiri Azami’s ultimate goal is to shut down every restaurant in Japan? Somebody has to take a stand, even if it’s foolhardy.

Despite the stakes, Souma remains calm and does his thing. I appreciated the meta nod to his bag of secret ingredients that have won him challenges in the past. He whips out a new one to use with the venison—sweet chestnuts—then cooks the meat in a seemingly very un-French way—with a charcoal brazier.

When his dish is complete, Tsukasa wonders who will judge it, clearly too focused on his cooking to notice the eavesdroppers in the hall. Souma, however, knew Megumi, Hisako and Erina were there all along, and encourages them to serve as judges.

Souma’s dish tears both Megumi and Hisako’s clothes off, and even Erina is pleasantly surprised; despite the charcoal, Souma used the bitterness of instant coffee to balance his dish, and it is presented in a way that barely passes the French cuisine test.

Then it’s time to taste Tsukasa’s dish—absolutely perfectly-cooked venison with two exquisite sauces—and it isn’t even a matter of clothes coming off or foodgasms…the girls are transported to an Eden-like dimension where they are one with the deer, the trees, and the sunshine.

So yeah…it was kinda silly to imagine Souma was never going to come anywhere close to beating Tsukasa, unless Tsukasa was jobbing. As much as they don’t want Souma working for Central, they have no choice but to pick Tsukasa’s dish as the winner; it’s just…better.

But hey, turns out Souma doesn’t have to work for Central even though he lost! He put up a good fight, and in the process demonstrated to Tsukasa that he’s far too wild and unpredictable to serve as his right hand. So he declares a draw and takes his leave. No harm, no foul!

With that, the episode moves on, with two quick, surprising wins for Megumi’s Cultural RS Nikumi’s Don RS. While sadly there wasn’t time to get into them in any kind of detail, it’s good to see that it isn’t just Souma and Ryo who can beat Central. The morale of the rebellion reaches a new high.

While celebrating Megumi’s win, Polar Star holds a grand tasting session for the God Tongue (much to her chagrin), but Hisako is nevertheless glad Erina’s fitting in with everyone (though someone needs to take that dour brown frock away from Erina and burn it, IMO).

Just when it looks like the episode will end on a happy upbeat note, Azami darkens Polar Star’s doorstep. He invites himself in, ignores demands to leave, and orders Erina to come with him. Erina almost starts to move reflexively, so completely has he conditioner her to obey, but he’s blocked by the other dorm members, Hisako, and even Fumio, who reveals Azami is a Polar Star alumnus.

Isshiki reports the results of his research on Nakamura Azami, and how he rose to Third Seat in his first year, First Seat in his second, and became a top star…until Senzaemon exiled him. Outnumbered, Azami takes his leave, but Souma follows him outside and asks, basically, why he hates Polar Star so much.

But Polar Star is nothing to Azami; neither love nor hate. He’s after bigger things. Besides, Polar Star’s Golden Age is long gone; during that time, Azami looked up to a senpai named Saiba Jouichirou. Azami’s revolution is meant to be the “salvation of the culinary world that ruined Saiba-senpai.”

Erina peaked her head out at just the right time to hear that the chef she always admired and even loved has a son, and that son is Yukihira Souma. That knowledge should make the second half of the season interesting!

Eureka Seven AO – 23

Fleur fights Naru while Elena fights Truth, but Naru easily evades them all and escapes with Truth, citing even Ao’s Nirvash has no archetype and isn’t alive. Ao and Harlequin catch up to Truth and Naru at the Okinawa Plant Coral, where Truth backstabs Naru and grabs the Quartz Gun and fires it. Ao opens his eyes to another rewritten history where Truth never existed and he just destroyed the Allied forces stole the coral relic IFO, saving the world. Renton emerges from the portal and confronts Ao, who gets news that Eureka has appeared on the Triton. Renton and Ao hurry there, where the family is briefly reunited.

It’s been such a good Fall season, we’d put Eureka Seven AO completely out of our minds, so the arrival of the final two episodes was a shock, but a pleasant one. The penultimate episode wastes no time jumping back into the action after leaving us hanging…somewhere, somewhen with Renton nearly two months ago. The battle between Ao and Truth is ultimately resolved when Truth essentially commits suicide. He is convinced the current world’s history isn’t correct and he shouldn’t exist, at least in his current form. Thus the Quartz Gun is fired for the second time, causing another vast, complicated explosion, and causing history to change once more.

What’s cool is that Ao isn’t the only one who notices. Two short scenes between Gazelle and Nakamura efficiently show us they noticed too, and even though Okinawa is part of Japan again Nakamura still isn’t happy with how small Japan remains. It’s this timeline where Renton chooses to travel in order to meet with Eureka in her Nirvash…only Ao’s in it, and Eureka is some kind of “ghost”, wandering time, without physical form and unable to stay anytime for long. Could she be Ao’s Neo-Nirvash’s archetype Naru said was missing? What “choice” led to Eureka becoming like this? Where does Renton fit into all this? We’ll find out…later tonight.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Eureka Seven AO – 21

Fleur, now president of Pied Piper, meets with the Japanese Diet to formalize a relationship, while Ao patrols territorial waters, turning away the Allied forces with the help of Secrets. On an Allied airbase on Guam, Elena meets Maggie and learns that adults infected with coral can fly IFOs. While in the cockpit of Elena’s prototype, Maggie gets flashes of her other life in Goldilocks. Eureka appears before her and Elena, telling Elena she can’t send her back. Maggie investigates and learns Elena wasn’t born on another world. A scub burst occurs in Indonesia; Elena confronts Ao as he emerges with the Quartz. He talks her down and asks her to come back. Truth appears and starts wreaking havoc.

Fleur and Elena both “like” Ao, but in very different ways. Fleur’s is a fairly conventional bond formed by mutual struggles, parallels in their pasts, and an ongoing mutual crush. Elena’s friendship is complicated by her feelings towards Eureka – feelings of hate and resentment. Elena is particularly fun to watch this week, as she’s excited about her her surroundings and the promise of returning home soon, while overlaying anime traits over her situation. It’s cute, but as we learn later, it’s also a little sad…and dangerous. When Maggie learns the truth about Elena, Elena doesn’t want to hear it, because it’s boring. She had this grand, fantastical idea of where she came from and where her destiny is (no doubt a fantasy fueled by her otakuism). The world she’s living in doesn’t feel quiet right, and never has. So it makes sense that she wouldn’t be too receptive of the idea that it’s her world.

Ao mitigates the sting of this somewhat by giving her a good smack (to her IFO, not her face) and delivering a heartfelt declaration of affection for her and an inteniton for them (and Fleur) to stick together always! It’s a very anime-like presentation that appeals to Elena, spicing up the otherwise dull proceedings. But this isn’t just about Elena: Nakamura has resigned, yet still vows to return Japan to greatness; Haru is home (in a hilarious breakfast scene) and stirring up resentment for the coral’s use as a weapon; Maggie sees her other life for the first time; Fleur trades in her flight pajamas for a smart pantsuit; and then there’s the wild card, Truth: who just wants to SHOOT and DESTROY. A little of everything this week, but all nicely juggled; we were never lost.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Eureka Seven AO – 14

After communicating with the Coralians, who are partially occupying her body, Naru emerges back on Iwato Island. After helping Eureka return to where she belongs through use of the pillar of light, Ao visits Iwato Island where he learns his real father didn’t abandon Eureka, but was fighting for him. Before leaving, Eureka insisted she was pregnant with a girl, not a boy. Ao visits Naru at the hospital, but they’re both arrested by Nakamura and the JAF, who have invaded Iwato. Naru escapes with the help of a real coral and unearths the Mk. I. Eureka travelled in, and when Ao hesitates joining her, she flies off with Truth.

This week we get a new OP, a new ED, and a whole lotta new, big developments. Ao and Generation Bleu are faced with two possible truths: either it’s as Naru says and the Coralians are only interested in communication and coexistence, or it’s as Nakamura says; the Scub coral are an invading force, and secrets are the earth’s defense mechanism. Nakamura retrieves a secret fragment and parades it over the airwaves like it’s King Kong, and the international community okays his invasion of Iwato. He wants Naru under quarantine and for Ao to pay for his crime of attacking the JAF and killing Colonel Endo. The usually neutral Gen Bleu can’t do much.

Who are we to believe? Well, we’re more inclined to believe Naru about the Coralians, but she’s so cold towards Ao, we have to wonder about her motives, especially since she’s not 100% Naru anymore. Her transformation into something nearly as enigmatic and powerful as Truth was something we weren’t expecting. As for Eureka having a girl…what does that mean; Ao has a sister out there somewhere? And why was Elena hellbent on killing Eureka? For every mystery this episode shed light on, many more remain. But we’re definitely enjoying the ride.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Persona 4: The Animation – 03

Yukiko goes missing after appearing on the Midnight Channel very much out of character. Chie races into the otherworld after her, followed close behind by Yu and Yosuke. Once there, Chie is confronted by her doppleganger, who is full of jealosy and resentment for Yukiko, and is content to use her as a doormat. After a battle, the foe morphs into Chie’s first persona, but Yukiko remains at large.

So, we kinda knew this episode would be about Chie gaining her Persona, and we kinda knew that her relationship with Yukiko was not all smiles and sunshine beneath the surface. Chie is a bit of a tomboy, and Yukiko is far more popular with the lads, it would seem. There’s a dark side to us all, and even strong, kind Chie has hers. Unfortunately, her entire battle with that dark side and the monster it turned into was a bit of a dawdle. It was strangling Yosuke far longer than was needed to kill him, for instance, and once Yu summoned the right Persona, dispatching her was, well, really easy.

But then, Persona is a game-based anime, and things start out easy, so it’s understandable. The execution of Chie’s confrontation with herself was fine, although the dopplegangers come off as petty, arrogant assholes more than dire threats to one’s self. And as always, the chemistry between Chie, Yu and Yosuke remains strong; they’re gelling well as both friends and comrades in battle, and are fun to watch. And there’s still a Yukiko to be saved, though lord knows where she is. Her performance on the Midnight Channel was downright bizarre, and we couldn’t make heads nor tails about it. Ah well, next week. Till then, don’t brandish swords in public places!


Rating: 3.5