Food Wars! Volume 6 focuses on Soma Yukihira, a boy who dreams of becoming a full-time chef at his father’s restaurant and to surpass his father’s culinary skills. When Soma graduates from middle school his father shuts down the restaurant to cook in America. However, Soma is sent to the Totsuki Culinary Academy, an elite school where only 10 percent of the students manage to graduate. Soma is an underdog at the school, but he never gives up on his dream.
Volume 6 opens with the announcement of the students who have been chosen to participate in Totsuki’s Fall Classic, which is a decades-old event of fierce cooking battles. Not surprisingly, Soma is selected to participate. While Soma may be an underdog, the fact that this is a shonen manga that focuses on a main character with a dream meant that he had to be selected as a participant. It would be highly unusual for the main character of a shonen manga to not be the focus for a major event.
And with this announcement, summer vacation arrives for the students at Totsuki. Soma stays at the dorm for the summer, and he receives an unexpected surprise when his father suddenly appears. It’s revealed that Soma’s father had been a former Totsuki student, that he had a bit of a reputation at the school, and that he had lived in the same door room that Soma now resides in. All of this was news to Soma, and this causes him to reflect and realize that he really didn’t know much about his own father at all.
Food Wars! Volume 6 then sees Soma’s father challenging his son to a cooking competition. Father and son have been competing against each other at cooking for a few years, but this is the first time that the reader truly gets to see a full competition between the two of them. Having Soma’s father around for part of this volume really helped provide some insight into Soma’s father, and it also helped the reader to better understand the relationship that he has with his son.
This volume also announces that the theme for the upcoming Fall Classic will be curry dishes. Most of the rest of Volume 6 sees Soma and his friend Megumi trying to increase their knowledge on curry and spices before the competition. Through their research, they meet two new characters: Professor Jun Shiomi and her assistant, Akira Hayama. The professor teaches a seminar specializing in spices, and Akira is a first-year student at Totsuki, just like Soma and Megumi. But it turns out Jun has a past with Soma’s father and doesn’t like him, so it’s hard for Soma to get much help from her. Even though Akira may be one of the competitors for the upcoming competition, he’s at least willing to talk to Soma and Megumi in order to teach them a little about spices.
Volume 6 then moves ahead in time to the first day of Totsuki’s Fall Classic, and it ends just as the competition is getting started. But before the volume ends, a very important figure in the curry industry arrives to serve as a guest judge, which causes some participants to panic or become flustered.
Even though Food Wars! Volume 6 did include one competitive cooking match it primarily focused on providing some character development and introducing two new characters. It turns out that Soma’s father needed to arrive when he did in order for Jun’s introduction to be as effective as it was. And having his father appear unexpectedly ended up being a good thing for Soma, both to realize how little he knows about the man he’s trying to surpass and to demonstrate what progress he has made with his cooking since enrolling at Totsuki.
When it comes to the art, there is some occasional fanservice with female and male characters that appears in Food Wars! Volume 6. Looking past the fanservice, I appreciate how the characters have unique looks to them, which allows the reader to tell them apart and be able to easily identify who they’re seeing in each scene. On page 25, there’s a great drawing of Soma’s father as he’s arriving at the dorm. Artist Shun Saeki made sure to go into a lot of detail for this particular drawing, which helps it to really stand out in comparison to much of the art that appears in this volume. There’s also a great drawing of Soma’s father on page 80 as he’s taking off his apron after finishing his cooking competition with Soma.
Food Wars! is a manga that should appeal to readers who enjoy the action associated with shonen manga but also have an appreciation for cooking. Any foodies reading the series will enjoy seeing the recipes printed in the volume to learn how to make the dishes that are prepared in the story. Readers who have been following the series will appreciate getting to see Soma interacting with this father in Food Wars! Volume 6. Long time readers will probably also enjoy meeting two new characters who could potentially expand the storytelling opportunities for the series in the future.
The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media