You know what I’m sick of? People looking down on Soma because his family runs a diner. I have a low tolerance for snobbery anyway, but this particular brand of it has seriously worn out its welcome. He made it into The Blue, for goodness’ sake. Maybe just trust that he’s better than your biases want you to believe?
That this is an ongoing plot point is somehow worse given that this week’s challenge for Soma and the other contestants is to make a fancy dish using only convenience store ingredients. (Good thing Japanese conbini are fancier than American ones – I can just imagine someone trying to cook a gourmet meal with Twinkies, cheap beer, and cola-flavored slushies.) Yes, he does screw up the first time, but that seems to be more on the judge than on Soma; it’s all well and good to expect Blue contestants to have the creativity needed to please her, but she doesn’t appear to have clearly explained the rules. Not that that’s particularly surprising for Food Wars, because at least half of what chefs are expected to be in the show’s world is clearly “psychic.” But in this case it just opens the door for Rantabi (who is increasingly annoying) to let her prejudices show some more, and since a large piece of this Blue is about the fight between the legitimate and underworld chefs, I feel like “Soma sucks because he’s from a diner” biases really could go away, because they’re not quite as relevant anymore.
Rantabi does, however, hand Soma something that he’s never dealt with previously: an ignominious defeat. He’s lost plenty of times before, but this is a different issue – no one has denigrated him for losing the way Rantabi does. Usually they simply tell him why he lost to this particular person and Soma is able to learn from his defeat, but Rantabi is apparently more invested in making him feel like a loser rather than offering him an opportunity to improve himself. That, again, smacks of snobbery, although it is in line with how we’ve seen her behave with other people. So maybe it’s less that she’s out for Soma and more that she’s got no business being a judge, because “impartiality” is clearly not one of her strong suits. Of course, there’s something wonky about this entire Blue, and Rantabi is merely a symptom of it rather than the problem herself. There’s clearly something going on with the person running the show, and I desperately wanted Soma to make a comment along the lines of, “I’m gonna win, but no way I’m becoming your personal chef.”
With all of the plot points being on hold until Soma makes it through most of the gates to the castle proper, one thing we’re not seeing much of is actual cooking. While this was true of season four, it was also part of the problem with season four, so it’s a shame to see it continue here. We get glimpses of cookery, but mostly after-the-fact information, which, while interesting, does take down some of the tension. This is much better managed in this episode than it was in the previous one, but that’s largely due to Soma failing his first attempt, and I do wish we at least got to see what Takumi and Megumi made rather than just seeing that they passed. On the other hand, having Tsukasa back makes up for a bit of their sidelining, because watching he and Soma interact as friends and equals is really nice. I could definitely relate to Tsukasa being relieved to see people he knew and his panic at being swarmed with reporters was a nice counterpoint to the overwhelming confidence displayed by the Noir members.
Speaking of, we didn’t see any of the Noir chefs cook this week. We know that Bunny Girl, Clown Boy, and at least one other seeded member were participating in the trial, so why didn’t we spend even a second with them? Is the show holding out for Chainsaw Lady? It seems like for everything this season does right it’s got two things it left out in service of that, and while I’m curious as to what’s going to happen next, I’m also trepidatious about how it’s going to play out.
Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma: The Fifth Plate is currently streaming on