Johnny Bullet
Food Wars!: Shokugeki No Soma Volume 23 manga review
By Leroy Douresseaux

March 27, 2020 - 15:45

Publisher(s): Viz Media
Writer(s): Yuto Tsukuda, Adrienne Beck
Artist(s): Shun Saeki
Letterer(s): James Gaubatz Mara Coman
ISBN: 978-1-4215-9762-1
$9.99 US, $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK, 200pp, B&W, paperback
Rating: T+ (Teen Plus)

Food Wars!: Shokugeki No Soma Graphic Novel Volume 23 cover image

Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”

Soma Yukihara grows up cooking in the Yukihira Family Restaurant, which is owned by his family.  At 15-years-old, he wants to be a better chef than his father, Joshiro Yukihara, so he hones his skills day in and day out.  Then, his father suddenly decides to enroll him in a classy culinary school, Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute, a place that prides itself on a 10 percent graduation rate.  If Soma Yukihara really does not want to attend Totsuki, how can he succeed?

As Food Wars!: Shokugeki No Soma, Vol. 23 (Chapters 191 to 199; entitled “Wilderness Pioneer”) opens, Soma wins his battle against Akira Hayama in stage three of the Totsuki advancement exams.  Soma has saved himself from being expelled, but many of his friends from Polaris Dormitory are expelled from school by Azami Nakiri, the cruel new master of Totsuki.

However, Soma's father, Joshiro, steps in to save Polaris.  He challenges his former Totsuki classmate and friend, Azami, to a rare kind of challenge, “the Régiment de Cuisine Shokugeki.”  Now, learn the history of Joshiro, Azami, and Gin Dojima, when they were students at Totsuki – the so-called “Diamond Generation.”  And what happened to the three of them shapes Totsuki to this day.

[The volume includes bonus art, illustrated character profiles, and the side story, “Weekly Playchef.”]

THE LOWDOWN:  The Food Wars! manga is at its best when it depicts cooking competitions.  Sometimes, the narrative finds power when it is about the contest as a concept more than it is the contest as an actual event.

Food Wars!: Shokugeki No Soma Graphic Novel Volume 23 gives readers the thing that they have wanted for awhile.  That is the story of Soma's father, Joshiro, as a student at Totsuki, and what a student he was.  Five of the nine chapters that comprise Vol. 23 depict past events and back story, and series creators, writer Yuto Tsukada and artist Shun Saeki, flesh out current character motivations and present day conflicts via these illuminating flashbacks.

Adrienne Beck's nuanced translation brings depth to characters that have been mostly types to this point.  Beck reveals the fully-formed nature that the creators suddenly give these wonderful supporting characters.  Vol. 23 is a pivotal volume in Food Wars!

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Readers hungry for good manga will want the Shonen Jump Advanced title, Food Wars!: Shokugeki No Soma.

9 out of 10

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