You know, a weekend isn’t a terribly long span of time but it really can make the difference. I hope no one minded me venting out a lot in my last post from the other day. It was definitely one of those days where I had to dial things back. I just really wanted to put me going back and forth on my backlog to an end. Now that I’m back from a weekend spent with friends and family, I’m in a much better mood to blog about anime and I’m going to tackle this backlog at a pace that I feel most comfortable with.
So let’s talk about Shokugeki no Souma and the surprise introduction of Azami Nakiri. To be honest, I’m a little disappointed that the show changed gears so quickly after the Moon Festival. Granted, I don’t recall this anime ever spending a ton of time on an aftermath to a big fight but a breather would’ve nice for two reasons. One, Souma’s battle against Kuga was quite exciting to watch and two, Erina’s dad stopping by to say hello kind of came out of nowhere. Did I miss something? I don’t remember any foreshadowing to this so I was 100% thrown off by this development.
I don’t really know how I feel about the inclusion of Azami into the cast. It’s certainly a big change of pace to have a straight-up antagonist in Shokugeki but I’ve never really felt like this was the kind of anime that ever needed one. Part of what I’ve really liked about this show is that most of the “villains” before Azami have really just been hyper-competitive and prideful students. It’s admittedly silly that a ton of them are all after Souma but I liked that barely anyone was ever truly evil. Azami meanwhile feels as cartoony as a shounen villain can get. A elitist who really wants to make Totsuki and Erina’s life as miserable as possible. Maybe there’s something surprising behind his motivation but right now, I feel like this guy likes to do evil laughs as exercise.
How Azami replaces his father-in-law as the Director of Totsuki is just plain silly. Not that Shokugeki has ever been the most realistic drama ever but am I really led to believe that a council of ten students has as much power as the person running the damn school? If a student council had that much power, the whole institution would fall apart. And logic loophole aside, why six of the Elite Ten agreed to do this eludes me. I get Eizan because he clearly would revel in that kind of power but what the hell is everybody else’s reasons? Most of these characters were only introduced pretty recently, and in an OVA people could’ve easily missed! There’s a definitely a threat level to them. That Souma admits that Tsukasa’s cooking skills is a league above his own is a huge red flag given Souma’s confidence in his own abilities. It certainly spells bad news that six of these students are on board with Azami but this kind of set-up feels more like an excuse to get them in the fray than anything else.
There was one good development to come out of this and that’s the show finally making an effort to make Erina likable. I’ve generally found the character to be pretty entertaining, especially whenever she’s on screen with Souma, but that posh and angry attitude of hers has always annoyed the hell out of me. These two episodes is perhaps the first time I’ve ever sympathized with Erina. I had always suspected that her attitude problem is the result of bad parenting though finding out how abusive it was really has me thinking about her character a bit differently. That Azami still has a hold on Erina’s psyche after a decade of being apart is really ominous. It’s very disturbing seeing an otherwise prideful and privileged girl display little to no resistance to her father as the latter insults her customers and fires Hisako.
So where does Souma fall into all of this? Well, Senzaemon asks Souma to save Erina from her father’s clutches and by sheer coincidence, Erina ends up taking refuge at Polar Star with the help of her friends. I couldn’t help but be amused that Souma says this isn’t his fight and yet his determination to cook something Erina will admit to liking more or less confirms that he will be involved in some way. It’s true, Souma doesn’t really need to go out of his way to save Erina and it wasn’t like these two were that close to each other to begin with. But that stance is very likely to change. Besides the fact that Souma is the titular protagonist of Shokugeki, he also takes any threat to him and his friends very seriously and the parallels between him and Joichiro are becoming increasingly obvious to Erina. No matter what, it doesn’t seem like Souma will idly watch Azami’s takeover go by.
Some extra screencaps of the ED. I’ve been taking just three images per OP/ED but the change in imagery in San no Sara‘s ED has stood out to me.