My affinity towards San no Sara has definitely changed as of late. I don’t want to say this anime has jumped the shark and this whole arc with Azami and Central is far from bad but I’m not convinced that this anime is well-equipped to handle such a huge shakeup to its tried and true formula.
There is honestly a lot to buy into. Azami is hellbent on making Totsuki a living hell of elitism but it doesn’t come across as hostile as this show expects it to be. Thing is, Totsuki has always been about survival of the fittest. The graduation rate is less than 10%, the curriculum has super high stakes, and we’ve seen so many extras fail miserably throughout the year. Even all the major characters that do play some role in the story are still touted as the best in their class. The only one who was ever in the red was Megumi and that stopped being an issue by Ni no Sara.
As scummy as Azami is, his view is really just a more extreme take on Totsuki’s ideals which is dangerous but it doesn’t carry much impact as one might hope. Even the changes Azami makes lacks weight. All the clubs get disbanded but club life never seemed that integral to the narrative and setting of Shokugeki. The curriculum now follows Central’s instructions but that’s more confusing than threatening. Seriously, I don’t get why the Elite Ten has this much power.
I suppose it is a big deal that Eizan pops up to disband Polar Star but I kind of rolled my eyes a bit. The logic just eludes me. You can’t seriously expect me to think that a dorm counts a club because it’s autonomous. There is still a huge difference between a building that houses people and an organization that does research. More annoying than that, Eizan is just an uninteresting villain. I’ve said it in my last post and I’ll say it again: cartoonish villains doesn’t really suit Shokugeki no Souma. I’m aware that this is not a photorealistic anime but one of its strengths was the fact that a number of antagonists were just competitive and prideful students. It really suited the setting and story of the show and that appeal is lost with how much Eizan mugs to the camera.
Still, this show did hit me emotionally when everyone at Polar Star reflected on all the good times they had together. Even though most of them never rose to the spotlight, they are still a fun band of characters and it would pain me to see them torn apart. While Souma claims him challenging Eizan in a shokugeki is entirely for his sake, it’s obvious that it’s a ruse. If anything, distancing himself from his friends really says a lot about Souma’s resolve. The calmer and colder he gets, the more serious he takes things and this might be the calmest and coldest we’ve seen in quite some time. It’s also possible that Souma kept his friends out of it because he figured Eizan would send his lackeys to tear up Polar Star (because of course he would) and someone has to defend the building.
If nothing else, it’ll be interesting to watch Souma’s shokugeki with Eizan. Eizan’s got a cruel trick in that he has bribed the judges to rig every shokugeki in his favor. That would naturally make it impossible for Souma to win but let’s face it, victory is probably on the horizon. Anytime Souma’s expulsion is one of the loss conditions, it’s kind of a given that he has to come out on top in order for this show to continue. But rather than lament on how predictable the result may be, I’m curious to see what Souma could possibly cook up in order to persuade the judges to give him a fair shot.