I ran into Shokugeki no Soma almost by accident. Since Bakuman, I’ve not been following any Shounen Jump manga, but I heard about Soma and its penchant for… interesting reaction pages.
(Look them up, then come back here.)
The simple explanation for these is that Shun Saeki, the artist, is the real name of the eromanga artist tosh. So what is an eromanga artist doing in Shounen Jump? Beats me! I find it amusing, because Saeki’s (or tosh’s, if you will) art is clean and impeccable. Everyone looks great. Sometimes the sheer detail of the food depicted is overwhelming. But while the art tries to be naughty with characters’ reactions to eating Soma’s food, there’s barely any fanservice otherwise.
So what’s the manga about? Simply put, Shokugeki no Soma is a battle manga involving cooking. The protagonist, Soma, enrolls in a super-elite culinary high school where only a tiny amount of students graduate. He does this because he wants to surpass his chef father, who went off to work overseas.
There are manga with a myriad twists and turns, keeping the reader hooked and guessing on the plot. Shokugeki no Soma is not that kind of manga. It’s a manga where the outcome is clear from the start (Soma wins), but the execution will always catch you off-guard. Even if you know what’s coming, you are not prepared for it.
Even more welcome is the fact that Soma is basically an 80’s Shounen Lead. Soma is already ridiculously strong, and the thrill of the manga is putting him against impossible-sounding odds only to watch him crush the opposition. Soma’s positive, can-do attitude is also refreshing–he doesn’t rage or whine at the unfairness of the culinary school’s system, he tackles it head-on with complete confidence. That, and Soma possesses a surprising amount of intelligence and resourcefulness that makes him unlike any contemporary shounen lead I’ve read. He practically carries the entire manga on his own.
I think it’s a fun, simple manga that would serve as a worthwhile diversion every week. Check it out!