The Moon Festival has started and just as I had suspected and feared, Souma starts off on the losing side of the battle. It’s a shame since I thought his strategy to go with Taiwanese as opposed to Sichuan was sound and I really liked how modest his little cart was. And while Souma reacts to the situation as reasonably as he can, it really has become evident that the Elite Ten are the real deal and facing them is no simple task. It also doesn’t help that Kuga really loves to brag about himself. Seriously, this guy was getting on my nerves and no offense to Yuki Kaji (I generally like him as an actor) but Kuga seems like the kind of character he’d get typecasted to play. I can’t wait to see Souma give Kuga his comeuppance.
One thing you can always count on with Souma however, is his ability to adapt to his situations and we certainly see him adjust his game plan considerably in this episode. Adding a noodle recipe that’s lighter on the stomach (to contrast the heavy impact of the pepper bun) is a smart move but even smarter is Souma’s ploy of carting free samples to some stragglers at the end of the day. While he gains no profits, he does gain a lot of good will and buzz from his customers as well as some feedback to help him improve his menu. Considering that Kuga keeps hogging up customers during the day, interacting with bystanders this way is invaluable for Souma right now. It’s also just cool (and in-character) for Souma to get research even as the festival is still going. Most characters in Shokugeki no Souma tend to have a set plan and roll with it and while Souma can plan really well himself, his willingness to continually think over his strategy is a huge advantage that shouldn’t be underestimated. And clearly, it’s working since Souma climbed up the ranks during Day 2. Hopefully the third recipe he’s cooking up (pun not intended) will finally let him go toe to toe with Kuga.
We also see how other characters are doing during this arc. I’m all for it since I quite like the supportive cast of Shokugeki no Souma. You see Nikumi and the Aldini brothers do just fine with their booths and Ishiki’s plan to turn the Polar Star booth into some sort of host club cracked me up. Alice’s team got a fair amount of screen time this episode and I’m glad they did since I was convinced it was going to be a train wreck. Sure enough, Alice nearly put herself, Ryo, and Akira in the red within the first day of the festival.
This arc is an interesting time for Alice since this is perhaps the first time she’s discovering some of her flaws. Despite her talent in cooking (specifically chemistry and aesthetic), it’s clear that Alice is severely lacking in the management and teamwork departments. Shoehorning herself into Akira’s booth is one thing but it’s made even worse since Alice keeps making all sorts of decisions, sometimes even at the last minute. Even though I understand where Ryo’s passiveness is coming from (he probably gave up arguing with Alice a long time ago), I did find myself siding with Akira a lot more. Frankly, Alice needed to get criticized by Akira and it does look like Akira is very slowly convincing her to plan more with her teammates. Hopefully, this team can salvage their business and avoid expulsion before time runs out.
All of these moments with the cast has been solid but I can’t deny that the most glorious moment was when Souma finally conversed with the queen of disgusting delicacies, Nao Sadatsuka. Good grief, I did not realize I wanted this moment until now. It was incredibly entertaining seeing Souma and Sadatsuka gain profound respect for each other’s interest in making food both gross and delicious. The world should’ve imploded at that very moment. I also love how, for a while, Nao is just in the background, eating a pepper bun, while Souma and Megumi have a serious conversation about how to survive the remainder of the Moon Festival. Can this please be a recurring visual gag? Pretty please?