How would you rate episode 2 of Food Wars! The Third Plate ? We’re still in the preparation phase of this new arc, but...

How would you rate episode 2 of
Food Wars! The Third Plate ?

We’re still in the preparation phase of this new arc, but things are beginning to heat up—just not necessarily between Soma and Kuga yet. We have a lot of characters to catch up with, and in terms of pacing, the Moon Festival storyline needs to be drawn out more. If Soma was already actively competing with Kuga in this episode, I’d have to be worried about the speed of the story.

Of course, that also makes for a buildup episode that isn’t as tense as the best ones in this franchise, although I’m not too worried about it. What’s more important right now is that we’re getting to see how the characters have changed (or not) from where we left them at the end of season two. In the latter camp we have Takumi Aldini, who still thinks he’s Soma chief rival without Soma being at all aware of this, as well as Akira, whose lone wolf tendencies don’t look like they’re going anywhere soon. That is, unless his guardian has anything to say about it—the poor guy has a foster mom at the ready when all he wants to do is be left alone with his spices, resulting in him getting tricked into sharing his booth with Alice and Ryo. Mind you, Alice is basically a force of nature, so even if she hadn’t played the friend card with Jun, the results would probably have been the same. But her willingness to work with someone speaks to her evolution as a character— previously, she would have challenged someone to a shoukugeki for their booth, but now she’s learned to try different methods. If she’s still a human bulldozer, at least she’s still in the process of learning to play nice with others.

That’s something Erina is having a hard time reconciling, albeit not with Alice. Ever since Soma and Hisako worked together during the stagiaire, the two have been getting along much better, and now Erina has to cope with the fact that her closest friend and her least favorite person have formed a friendship of their own. She hasn’t fully vocalized it, but she’s definitely noticing the changes, and it’s clear that she’s not comfortable with it. In part that’s because she has to acknowledge that she doesn’t dislike Soma as much as she used to, and that’s a truth about herself she’s not ready to face. If she can get along with someone as lowbrow as Yukihira Soma, what does that say about her status as someone special? Since she’s built her entire identity around this (more will be revealed in later episodes), it’s unsettling to say the least.

Meanwhile, we also see that Megumi has done some growing up as well. She’s still quiet and shy, but now she’s much more willing to try something and ask permission later, and she’s not afraid to take initiative as a friend anymore. We can see this both in the fact that she assumes she’ll help Soma with his booth, but more importantly in her relationship with Hojo, the aspiring Chinese chef who was so down on her before. Previously, Megumi would have been too afraid of Hojo to even think about a friendship; now she’s comfortable asking for a favor. She and Erina are both nice examples of the way the series can develop its characters in ways that allow them to remain true to themselves while still growing into stronger people.

The festival has opened its gates as the credits roll this week (after poor Soma learns that he’s the only person who can’t sing the school song), so the action should be ramping up next time. That’s when we’ll see how alley cat Soma does in his challenge to lion Kuga, an apt metaphor on the series’ part. Aesop has plenty to say about the “weak” challenging the strong, so it should be interesting to see how Food Wars plays with that particular fable.

Rating: B

Food Wars! The Third Plate is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.