I tend to turn to graphic novels and manga for comfort reads; I’ve needed that a bit more lately. I wanted something I could trust not to be too much with the feels and end happily. I took a chance with the final volume of Food Wars! (#36) and thankfully there were no major surprises of those sorts.
The basic premise has always been kind of entertaining to me: a bunch of students at a culinary high school and their hijinks. Naturally there’s the rebel who doesn’t fit in who has talent but must pursue his own way (hi, Soma) and the uptight perfect students who needs to loosen up both personally and culinarily (Erina), and of course the two individuals in question will come into either conflict-love or just conflict. There is a heavy focus on technique and end result, described in incredibly exaggerated terms and images, but some of that is part of the fun, even if the over-the-top gets old or just cliché in places. Even so, this volume was not so much about the actual food or cooking as many of the ones before it were; this one is about the characters, and generally that’s ok with me. I think the “redemptions” for two of the former villains are a little forced, but otherwise the backstories about both Erina’s and Soma’s mothers, and Erina’s grandfather’s master plan turn out nicely.
This volume wraps up a major competition sequence, resolves some of the most pressing personal issues, mostly for Erina but a little for Soma too, and then flashes forward to about seven years in the future to show how everyone turned out. In some ways a lot of this is entirely predictable, but what I really liked was the lack of emphasis on personal romantic attachments (a few of which do get suggested during the body of the series) and the focus on professional fulfillment and personal growth. The end does contain some potential romance as an option, but since the characters have done some growing, have finished school and started careers as themselves, I don’t mind the idea of starting to look at the love angle; it’s annoying to me that in most stories like this, the main couple firmly commits during or immediately after school usually at the expense of some major opportunity in education or profession; not so here. I liked that. Even though I’ve finished the books, I still have about two seasons of the anime to find, so I’ll look forward to seeing how that’s all done.