This episode was largely set-up for the big showdown though I’d say it’s warranted since Souma really does need a game plan against Kuga and he would certainly benefit from researching on Chinese cuisine.
Early in the episode, Souma asks for Erina’s help with his Chinese dishes and even though helping Souma is the last thing Erina wants to do with her free time, she ends up doing it since Hisako actually puts it on her schedule. I quite like how Erina is becoming more involved in Souma’s life (apart from observing him and hoping he gets expelled) through Hisako’s new friendship with him. It’s a nice byproduct of Souma providing Hisako some much needed comfort during the Stagiaire arc last season and it’s perhaps the smartest approach in getting Erina to eventually open up to Souma. Obviously, Erina still throws a fit when she’s around Souma but the story’s making baby steps at least.
You know who also got some subtle character development this episode? Megumi. I mean, she’s still shy but it’s kind of a big deal that she declined both Polar Star and the Local Cuisine RS to help Souma with his booth. It has been a while since Souma and Megumi last worked together and it’s a big change that it is now Megumi taking the initiative to help Souma after many occasions where it’s Souma getting Megumi out of a tricky situation. The only thing I would’ve liked to see is perhaps seeing Megumi offering more input on beyond taste testing or speaking key information on Kuga’s cooking. And I know that the booth is being led by Souma but I wouldn’t mind if there was more than one ideas person on the team. Oh well, at least I get to see Megumi brave Souma’s experiments again; that’s always a fun sight.
It’s fitting that Souma ultimately chooses to not replicate Kuga’s Sichuan cooking style and opts to offer Taiwanese pepper buns at his booth instead. Souma’s biggest strength has always been his creativity, especially when he chooses to not approach things the same way his opponents do. The only thing I’m wondering if his strategy will be enough. The pepper bun feels more like an appetizer compared to Kuga’s mapo tofu dish. Maybe customers will buy it to go along with Kuga’s food but Souma’s aim is to attract customers away from his opponent. And while I do also like how Souma’s booth looks like a modest festival cart, it is hard to imagine people flocking to it over the giant palace Kuga’s strangely happy crew has constructed. Then again, Souma has gone through some pretty tough battles at this point and even in the ones where he loses, he still puts up a strong fight.
- It always amuses me how despite being a culinary prodigy, Souma knows very little terminology in regards to his craft. It’s a strange way to justify some of the exposition but it’s still pretty funny.
- Alice sure is an eccentric character; a self-proclaimed rival of both Souma and Erina but like Takumi, she tends to luck out on opportunities to challenge them. I’m kind of confused as to why someone this good at cooking opted not to participate in the Moon Festival but I was laughing quite a bit when she more or less usurps Akira’s booth just so that she can compete against Erina and Souma. A shame the booth is nowhere near where those two are cooking. I wonder what kind of food her “team” will even serve for the festival.
- This far into the show and we now find out that there exists an anthem for this school? You’d think someone would’ve played this song during the opening ceremony back in Season 1.