It’s difficult enough to try and justify a love of cartoons without having to deal with some of the most horrible stereotypes of Japanese Animation. How can we escape from the visions of tentacle monsters, exploited little girls, and screaming muscle men? Well, it’s when great story strands on it’s own apart from the trappings of the medium. This is one of the reasons I was so excited for Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma. The show is about Soma, the son of an excellent chief who has worked his entire life to try and beat his father. It has all the markings of a show that could break out into mainstream success. Food is a universal passion no matter which culture you come from, on top of the excellent way the show exploits the shonen formula to keep the viewer gripped while Soma goes on and on about the beautifully food that he has crafted. It’s almost a show that I would recommend to a lot of my non-anime fan friends who love food and cooking. Almost.
I decided to watch the first two episodes while on the treadmill in the gym. I thought it would be safe, an anime that I might not be embarrassed to watch in public. But the trend of shocking the audience to grip them with the first episode has entered an exaggerated stage with Food Wars. Only a few minutes into the episode Soma offers a disgusting dish he created, Peanut Butter octopus, to one of his friends. The visual representation the show uses to describe the feeling is the woman girl being raped by tentacles. Almost immediately a show that’s presence should help break into mainstream made itself completely inaccessible. It took minutes.
The episode goes on from there to give the premise, show Soma’s cooking ability and personality, and then as the episode draws to a close with a conflict being resolved I think that there might not be another weird sexual scene when the female antagonist and her body guards taste some of Soma’s food. Not only is there a scene of animation thats way too long as the woman orgasmed while consuming the meal, but there is a dream sequence of her and her body guards being stripped of their clothes, with their genitals barely shielded, as they moan in orgasmic pleasure.
Note: I’m running on a treadmill while this is happening. Shaking my head, wondering where my life is going. The premise of the show is good, I like the characters, and the way food is presented and talked about fits in with my love of “food porn.” But I was really hoping that Food Wars would be a show I could share with my food loving, non-anime fan friends. Anime can be compelling and not contain weird sexual scenes. Or so I thought. There has been trend in Anime over the last few years to shock people in the first episode, get a good hook, and then the show becomes normal. This certainly appeals to the few thousand hardcore Otaku in japan looking to spend a ton of money on Anime merchandise and over priced blu-rays, that is the audience every show is trying to hit. What they should be focusing on, especially in a show that is 99% normal like Food Wars, is how to appeal to a general audience and start to bring more people into the fold. With these practices they are isolating their current audience away from the mainstream, and keeping the mainstream away from their content.