Well… If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought that this episode was not only the finale for the season, but the Shokugeki no Soma franchise as a whole. Yes, this week’s episode felt like that definitive of an ending. An ending, that felt like it really covered every dangling plot thread and character arc that Shokugeki no Soma has introduced or touched upon since it began. In a rather strange break from tradition, this week’s episode is the first season finale that’s actually felt satisfying and complete, maybe even more so than it perhaps needed to be.
See, with the news earlier this month that Shokugeki no Soma will be getting a fifth season in Summer 2020, feelings on this week’s episode can’t help but be a bit mixed and confused. On the one hand, much like Fairy Tail and other long running shounen series of this ilk, Shokugeki no Soma felt like it made a last minute save, salvaging what felt like a rather weird divergence from what had been established by the series since it first began.
We’ll get more into this season as a whole in a bit, but I think what’s most pertinent is the actual epilogue that this week’s episode provided, for all the characters following the big showdown with central. There’s the immediate aftermath and then there’s the time skip that follows a few months after.
Looking at them chronologically, I’d say the immediate aftermath was definitely the more surprising of the two, and where I think the feeling of this being the “story finale” actually develops from. Both Soma and Erina kind of head to places and positions that feel like the final destinations for their character arcs.
Soma becomes the First Seat of the Totsuki Elite Ten, essentially climbing up to the coveted top rank that he mentioned he’d get to at the start of the series. Erina, on the other hand, goes even higher, and becomes the new Director for Totsuki as a whole, replacing her father and succeeding her grandfather.
I have to admit, there’s a part of me, that while happy, felt like this whole situation was a bit premature. It felt more like both Soma and Erina had to accept these positions because there was no one better for these jobs, rather than them being completely ready or even suited for them. Indeed, this moment was more akin to something you’d see with a series suddenly ending or getting cancelled in Shounen jump, more so than the ending for an arc.
Yet at the same time, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the immense growth that both of the two main characters displayed here. Soma, for not only accepting his role, but for doing so despite not getting it exactly the way he had wanted it. Yes, Soma hadn’t beaten the First Seat in a 1 on 1 match, but I think Erina analysis of him achieving the most in this Team Shokugeki was spot on.
Not only that, but Soma’s ability to really drive innovation in not just himself, but his friends and coworkers, is the sort of quality you really need in a leader, especially a student leader. To that end, I think we’ve seen Soma help, improve and evolve many of his fellow students over the course of these four seasons, and thus him being the quasi Student council president in a school that values results and cooking ability above all else, makes sense.
Plus, Soma’s declaration of a free for all Shokugeki fest against him was both cool and just… Badass. The ability for any student to challenge any member of the Elite Ten is a change that I think Totsuki not only needed, but one that removes the elitism and class culture that’s been plaguing the academy for the majority of the show’s run-time. All in all these changes, combined with Megumi’s voice over later about how this brought about a rather positive change to Academy, made for a rather satisfying conclusion to Soma’s side of the story.
As for Erina… Well, I suppose she kind of earned her position, even if it felt like she got it a bit too early. I would’ve liked it more if she had become Soma’s 2nd Seat instead of the Director, personally. While Erina definitely showed growth in giving Soma the first seat, I think that humbleness was short lived and through no fault of her own. Elevating Erina to the directior’s spot was, I think, not only a bad move, but really unfair to her.
After all the hard work that Erina has put in to fit in and become friends with her classmates, she is now once again isolated away from everyone by just being infinitely above them in the pecking order. As someone only in her second year, I think it would’ve been better to have her graduate from school first, and then have her assume the Director’s role for Totsuki.
Not to mention, that feeling of finality that I mentioned earlier, is strengthened by Erina ending up at what feels like her big career job after school. Erina serving as the Principal of her own school and guiding a new generation of students in the same way that Soma and her friends guided her? That’s a solid ending to her character arc, one that kind of closes the book on her.
But hey, not only do we get what we get, but the Epilogue ends up showing us that it all turned out for the better. Totsuki seems like a much more lively place, and as they are revealed, most of the Elite Ten are pretty deserving of their titles and spots. The only one who I wasn’t a huge fan of was Eizan, who I felt never got the expulsion he deserved. I also can’t see him stomaching working under Soma, but well… I guess we’ll just go with it.
As for the larger Epilogue, I do have to say I enjoyed what we got to see. Hayama being the 4th seat and constantly going at it with both Ryo (5th Seat) and Alice (6th Seat) was pretty sweet. Isshiki being the 2nd Seat made sense, especially given that he’s only really ever lost to the previous First Seat. Nene still being in the Elite Ten and challenging Isshiki seems about right for the two of them. Kuga, of course, being the 3rd seat felt pretty fitting too, on top of him beating Hayama by a razor thin margin. The Aldini bros continuing their partnership e.t.c, it was all pretty nice.
Then, of course, there was the previous Elite Ten graduating and each going on to start their own life ventures. In particular, it was great to see Rindo and Tsukasa bond and go on a trip together. Funny, but I found myself kind of shipping this strange couple. The other Elite ten like Momo running her own bakery, Megishima opening his own Ramen Strand in France or Saito running his sushi restaurant with his mom, were all solid moments and expected conclusions for these characters. Heck, if there was a character that we had seen (Even Subaru), they got a moment or two in this epilogue.
And no, I haven’t forgotten about Megumi, who was narrating the whole epilogue and had a few solid moments of her own. Megumi being the tenth seat felt kind of cheap sure, especially after her performance in the Team Shokugeki, but well, there’s no doubt that she’s also grown tremendously from where we first encountered her. If nothing else, Megumi went above and beyond everyone else, using her new Totsuki Elite status to travel the world. And of course, I really loved the idea of Megumi going on a journey and then coming back to Japan to have a nice little mini-story arc with Soma.
I’m not entirely sure if this was an actual mini-arc in the manga that was skipped entirely, or if it just a nice moment that’s briefly shown, but I wish I had seen more of it. In general seeing Soma and Megumi hanging out together, even in the Student Council room in a later scene, felt kind of nice, and reignited the shipping fan in me.
I’ve always been team Megumi, of course, as I just love her character the most out of all the girls. She’s not only grown the most, but I feel like she compliments Soma the best. And since we’re on the topic of Megumi. whom I didn’t get a chance to comment on during the Team Shokugeki battle, I suppose I could squeeze in a word or two here. And honestly? I will say that while I liked her arc and her moment with Shino, I was definitely disappointed to see her lose. I was sure that Aldini would lose his battle rather than Megumi, since both of them couldn’t have won but… I guess the show is still presenting Megumi as the “little blue engine that could” more so than anything else.
Now… Having said all of that, with almost every character getting a nice epilogue and the audience getting a general idea of what direction every character will be heading to in the future, that last moment at the end of the episode felt a bit weird, to say the least.
Some dude winds up at Erina’s office, and my guess is that he’s her older brother? The Black hair would definitely suggest so, as her dad has the same hair color as well. And I assume whatever is coming in the next and potential final arc is going to focus on that, and that’s cool and all…
But… Well… I know I’ve heard manga readers lament online that Shokugeki no Soma should’ve ended after the Central arc. Seeing this episode and having gone through this whole season? I think I’m inclined to agree with them.
Its no secret that this Central Arc was rough around the edges. It definitely didn’t hit the quality levels that any of the other arcs in the story did, after all. So, its safe to say that the story itself and its writer, are losing some serious steam here. Yes, we don’t get to know who Soma ends up with, and there’s always the sweet potential of more adventures with these characters that the audience have grown attached to, but…
See, the problem here is that I just don’t have the confidence in this show and its source material to deliver another solid arc. It was difficult enough getting through the Central Arc, especially in its final stretch. Coming off of that, and a last minute solid ending, well, I reckon that I don’t think I need or want another arc.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll definitely be back, and may even blog it in the format I discussed in last week’s post, but I just feel, well… Full, for lack of a better word. Anything beyond this feels like just over eating at this point, which is about as apt of a metaphor as I can provide regarding my feelings on a season 5 following this one.
I suppose we’ll find out in a couple of months. Until then! Thanks for reading!
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