The “Camaraderie and Team Building Cooking Camp” in Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma volume 3 has major effects for the aspiring culinary students — they will instantly be sent back to school to be expelled if they don’t pass the assignments.
The challenges are set and judged by school alumni, making for another set of bizarre personalities with huge egos. This is classic shonen, with an irritating but gifted hero, a fine, shy girl for the hero to finally get involved with, and a motley group of friends and adversaries, a few girls to show off their bodies. Here, that’s Megumi, whose two of the elite chefs captivates instantaneously. Her challenge is to obtain confidence in her skills.
For what it is, it’s well-done and surprisingly involving. As with many American superhero comics, it’s most easy to read if you’re able to stand the buff service, but it’s minimal this time around, with just a few panels of visual depictions of the food encounter. For some reason, tasting good food makes the women who do it incredibly busty. Nonetheless, in this novel, there’s also a nude, heavily muscled guy, for some kind of equilibrium.
The challenge our hero Soma first participates in is a simple but astonishing one — to make a Japanese dish using just what they can find on the grounds (which includes a river and woods) in two hours. Most everyone goes for grilled fish, the clear pick, but that bores the judge. Soma believes more creatively and surprises everyone, although manages to prepare an excellent duck dish.
Like Soma, the half-Italian child got much of his experience working in the family restaurant, presenting the merit of hands-on work over classroom learning. And he’s able to translate his house cuisine into a Japanese variant. Soma understands that having a good challenger is a valuable learning experience, while the other lad has too much ego demanded to gain the necessary wisdom from the pairing.
The sequences of the cooking are impressively illustrated, with lots of action flair. The recipes for the focus dishes are also included, although with the emphasis on native Japanese flavors, discovering the ingredients in the US might be a challenge.
Megumi gets more attention here, also, with her nation background having an unforeseen gain, as shown on the cover. She works well paired with his brashness balanced by her knowledge that is quiet, with Soma, but in a solo challenge, she’s set up to fail by a chef that is sadistic. In a no-win situation, she’s a clever solution, but the judge’s self is offended by it. The resolution will be revealed in the next book.
Additionally contained in Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma volume 3 is artist Shun Saeki’s introduction work, an one- shot called “Your and My Romance Counseling” that takes up a quarter of the publication. A boy has a crush on a fellow student, but she’s also an amateur model, so he’s convinced she’ll never detect him. It’s rather predictable but a bit sweet, too.