Japan sure is a country that loves their food. I witnessed this first hand during my honeymoon and have become addicted to their amazing competitive cooking show Iron Chef. I had not expected to see this love of food to cross-over into my anime list, but little did I know.
Competition is one of the main threads running through this anime and, as such, you can summarise the plot of Food Wars really easily – a boy who wants to take over the family restaurant and tries to gain his father’s approval by being the best student in the country’s top culinary school. True, being an anime this is no ordinary school, but one with cooking competitions between it’s members fought in the style of pistols at dawn. It is also pretty damned cutthroat – at one point we see a student being expelled for wearing hair gel with a citrus scent.
Unlike any of the other shows I have watched so far for this list Food Wars engages in a large amount of ecchi (think of it like seeing softcore graphic content that is played up for laughs as well as fan service). It happened every now and then in Gintama as well as some other shonen animes I used to watch like The World God Only Knows.
For Food Wars the ecchi content weirdly ties into the second of the two central themes of the series – a rapturous adoration of food. Everyone in this anime is passionate about food and these weird scenes are all related to how the characters envision the taste. Some of them are questionable (think tentacle porn…. and now stop thinking about tentacle porn), but they pretty much all played for laughs; somehow they actually succeed to do this once you get over the weirdness of it all and that this isn’t something just reserved for female characters.
As much as I really enjoyed the wide range of characters (although some needed a lot more fleshing out) the thing that kept me watching was the food. The writer of this has clearly done a lot of research into so many different areas of the culinary arts. You just need to look at the characters of Alice (specialism: molecular gastronomy) and Hisako (specialism: medicinal cooking) to see some of the variations you get within the same episode.
A bad thing about this anime? You can’t watch Food Wars on an empty stomach. The food all looks so appetising that you can’t help but feel awkward about your own attempts at cookery. It makes me wish for an actual cookbook, but I’ll get by on watching YouTube videos where people try to make these dishes themselves. Who knows, I might try and make my own Gotcha Pork Roast soon.