Genre: Comedy, Ecchi, School, Shounen
Original Name: Shokugeki no Soma
In a small shopping district in Japan lies a small special-of-the-day restaurant, Restaurant Yukihira. It is here we meet Sōma Yukihira, the young son of the restaurant’s owner, Jōichirō Yukihira, who trained him in his own original cooking style, the Yukihira Style. Sōma strives to surpass his father one day in cooking. However, by the beginning of the story, he has lost to him 489 times. Just before Sōma starts his high school years, Jōichirō makes a surprising announcement. He decides to close down Restaurant Yukihira for three years so he could work abroad and recommends that Sōma attend Tōtsuki Culinary Academy to further hone his skills. Upon arrival at the academy, Sōma learns that Tōtsuki is no ordinary school as the school has a graduation rate of less than 1%.
When Sōma takes the entrance exam, he meets several other hopeful applicants who look down upon him for his humble origins. Before the exam began, a young girl entered the room and introduced herself as Erina Nakiri, the granddaughter of the Academy Director. Immediately after she introduced herself, the whole room is vacated due to her pedigree and notoriety in the culinary business. Due to her God’s Tongue, Erina has the best palette in the world, thus any dish deemed unworthy to her immediately spells the end of a chef’s career. Nevertheless, Sōma bravely accepts the challenge and manages to impress her with a simplistic egg dish. Unfortunately, her disbelief that a simplistic dish impressed her and Sōma’s cockiness resulted in his immediate denial from the Academy.
At the Spring High School Orientation Ceremony for the 92nd Tōtsuki Generation, the Academy Director, Senzaemon Nakiri, welcomed the 92nd generation into the High School section of the Academy and explained that out of the 1000 students in that class at the moment, by the time graduation arrives, less than 10 will graduate. Before concluding the ceremony, Senzaemon introduces the only student to make it through the entrance exam into the High School section: Sōma. Unbeknownst to Sōma and Erina, Senzaemon personally accepted Sōma into the academy after a single bite of his entrance exam dish. Sōma introduced himself to his entire class and boldly declared that he would use them all as stepping stones on his way to the top of his class. This set numerous rivalries into motion for Sōma as his classmates seek to be the one to end Sōma’s upstart.
As a cooking manga, Shokugeki no Soma focuses heavily on real world cooking techniques from across the globe and completely realistic dishes from all types of cuisine while mixing drama and comedy into the story. To emphasize these dishes, strong imagery is used to illustrate the flavors the eaters are experiencing. The series has battle themes with students engaging in cooking duels and the school’s official duels, the Shokugeki. Other times, dishes are cooked mainly to complete assignments in the Academy or are prototypes of future dishes in a cooking duel. The series also makes numerous cultural references from time to time including Gundam, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and Ace Attorney.
The plot heavily revolves around Sōma’s journey through Tōtsuki as he is constantly challenged by his classmates with notoriety of their own and each more challenging than the last. Not one to back down from a challenge, Sōma’s cooking is pushed to its limits as he constantly improves and innovates his techniques. While Sōma is mainly in the spotlight, several other characters receive development of their own, most notably Megumi Tadokoro, Sōma’s main partner throughout the series who has received the most amount of developmental attention aside from Sōma himself.