Okay lets jump in to one of the most anticipated series of the summer!
Food Wars as a title doesn’t convey the drama and excitement the series holds, so lets all agree to Shokugeki no Soma. Kay?
First off, finally!! The first season left on a semi-cliffhanger but we can all breathe a sigh of relief. If you are fresh from season 1, then jump right on in. The first episode does just that. There is no filler, and no recap on the last season. It just carries on right into the next Shokugeki in Soma style.
To those not familiar with the series, Shokugeki no Soma is a drama filled series about the high class culinary world. When a ‘low class’ boy names Yukihira Soma joins Tootsuki Academy he is challenged in a myriad of ways. His father owns Yukihira, a diner back home. Soma works at the diner, not knowing his father is a top class chef renowned across the world. Fancy techniques are instilled in Soma, as well as base techniques and the open mind to try any and all concoctions of food to stretch the flavor boundaries. Call it his ignorance to the opinions of others or blind determination, this ‘underdog’ has kept up with the fanciest and well trained chefs known to the world. He always takes the challenges as opportunies to learn and doesn’t become disheartened by loses. Now in the main tournament of the Tootsuki Academy Autumn Elections, he faces the Head of the Academy’s granddaughter, culinary prodigy and well versed in the world of molecular gastronomy, Nakiri Alice!
As in the first season, the backgrounds are either fast paced, dramatic, and downright ridiculous, while others are still images of area stands. Its not uncommon to see fish swimming against a background of a green grass field at this point, as the artists use the backgrounds to show the characters inner feelings, as well as the inner images of what they are tasting. All of the judges are male this round, so it may explain the lack of boobs or general cloth tearing. Although one of the biggest criticism of last season was the ‘rapey’ vibe given when the food taste tore the clothes off of the character in Aquarion style. The characters themselves seem to be on their own layers, moving independently on the background. This is used in dramatic scenes when in real life a camera would be swinging around in a circle around the character. Fast moving lines are used in backgrounds when characters are moving fast or making dramatic cuts, or generally striking a flashy pose. Shadows are also used extremely well, hiding half of the characters face or highlighting the sharpness of their smirk. The intensity of the overhead is shown through light beams in the screen, or sharp shadows near the character.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the backgrounds become simple and whimsical when the two characters, in this case Soma and Alice, ask each other questions or offer each other a small learning opportunity as friendly competition. These scenes are also used to educate the viewer on the complex cooking styles in a way that can be understood. Its really quite facinating! It feels almost separate from the action entirely. The character designs become simple and slightly Chibi, changing the overall feel.
The quick change of frames from onlookers reactions add to the suspense, the tension towards the end release of the announcement of the winner. But during these reactions, the characters don’t move. The characters are motionless, but move independently of each other and slide across the screen to create the look of movement. This is used a couple times.
Repeated frames are also used, either of a characters face, a crowd, or a flashy pose.
Close-ups and odd angles are used to increase drama as well. Geez, all they do is add drama!! Tilted angles, low angles, POV angles, close-ups on the face, motion lines on the tops and bottom of frames to create a ‘frenzy’ are used. And in the final reveal you get the spotty shots of half screens and odd angles of writing(the winners name) until there is the wide reveal and pans across the audience while loud cheering accompanies the music.
The music and sound effects were much like the backgrounds in that they changed to create an atmosphere effectively. In the simple scenes between characters there are exaggerated sound effects, such as a swish when a character moves his hands or points to something. In dramatic scenes there is often an echo of a single sound while the rest is silent. Crowd murmuring is an often used effect as well as the cheering. The music is generally upbeat and happy, but not whimsical. Mild music, saving the heavy toned, heavy echo for the intense moments.
For positives I can say for sure the backgrounds are the star. If the characters were not there, the backgrounds would still convey the story effectively. They add color and movement and give you more insight than a standard background would. They display the emotions rather than the characters saying it. How else can you show a short balding man wearing a schoolgirl outfit with glee, other than to see it in the background.
For negatives, the non-movement of characters was a bit disappointing. Granted they made up for the lack of movement by creating the illusion of movement, but it looks odd. The characters were not stock characters either. They were established, supporting characters. The reuse of frames was also an odd sight. The viewer would clearly notice the scene being reused, a couple minutes earlier.
Overall, the hype is similar to the sports genre, with an underdog or underestimated character overcoming obstacles and succeeding. You cant help but love Soma as a character. Now if the Fanservice aspect is going to be coming back, the show would be relying too heavily on the sexual aspect, and it doesn’t need that. Shokugeki no Soma does not need to strip characters and cover them in cherubs and dashi in order to enthral the audience.