Shokugeki no Souma: Ni no Sara is the continuation of the 2015 hit cooking series Shokugeki no Souma or Food Wars!. This second season picks up right after the first with the start of the Autumn Election tournament after the preliminary rounds are concluded. It is 13 episodes, and done by the same studio J.C Staff who are on course to being anime studio of the year having been very strong with their other summer series Amanchu! This anime being half the length of the first season does contain less material in it and only has 1 major arc and a follow-up mini arc where the students from the academy start their internships.
The story of season 2 follow Souma as he competes in the Autumn elections and aims at winning the competition and eventually challenging the Elite 10 of Tootsuki Culinary Academy. The story is as formulaic as season 1, and although I do really enjoy tournament arcs in anime, because I realised how shōnen-like the story is, it became very predictable.
The story this season I found to be weaker than season 1, as season 1 has more substance to the series. The second season felt like OVA’s instead of a true continuation of the story. I understand that they limited the episode count for this season so that they could provide the manga more breathing space, but that unfortunately came at the expense of the season. Season 1 was a breath of fresh air for me, and following Souma through each unique arc felt different and new, because season 2 only featured two arc’s it felt too dragged out at some points and too short at others.
A lot of the battles in season 1 felt intense and unpredictable whilst season 2’s felt predictable and slow, I predicted the outcomes in almost all of the battles in the Autumn Elections at the very beginning of the series. The second half of the show with the internship arc was decent. It felt similar to when Souma returned home and kicked off the fast-food mini arc during the half way point in season 1. It wasn’t bad, it just felt underwhelming because that’s how they chose to end the series. During the fast-food mini arc in season 1; it was effective because the story continued after that. That mini arc was dedicated in providing some filler content before building up to a climax. Whereas in season 2 because it ended with that arc it felt disappointing because now we have to wait another year before the story continues.
The characters are pretty much the same lot as in season 1. I do appreciate that a lot of the returning characters from the first season were more fleshed out in this season during the Autumn Elections, and a lot of the battles that happened didn’t solely focus of the food being prepared, but rather going in-depth into the backstories of the contestants to understand why their cooking style is the way it is, and why do they choose to cook. Some new characters were also introduced and they were great additions to the cast, but in the end the new characters ultimate were only introduced for those select moments in the show, and I doubt they will continue being relevant.
I really enjoyed how the second season built on the first by exploring the characters backstories and this perfectly solved the problem I had with season 1: with how the big cast of characters worked to the shows detriment by not being able to fully develop them. Yes there are some members of Polar Star and the Academy as a whole who still just fill up basic archetypes as they aren’t properly developed, but on the whole I’m really satisfied with how the characters and cast were handled in the second season.
Their isn’t a lot that I can say about the animation of the show, it basically the same quality as last seasons. I am somewhat disappointed that the animation wasn’t better this season as working with half the episode length this time around, I did expect the animation to look considerably better. I think because J.C Staff had a lot on their plate and couldn’t focus on making this as great as it could be as in this summer season they released 2 other shows alongside Food Wars being: Taboo Tattoo and Amanchu! All three series looked great with Amanchu being one of the best looking series J.C Staff have ever done. The art style is the same as season 1 and J.C Staff’s method of saving money by dropping the animation quality of their characters faces during comedic scenes also returns. Since J.C Staff have done this with Amanchu! as well, I have grown to enjoy the comedic expressions and no longer see it as budget cuts, but its own unique art style.
The sound is just as good as the first seasons, the opening theme is great and better than season 1 as well as the closing theme. The OST on the whole is great, but nothing spectacular.
As with season 1, I still feel that the show seems to predictable as Souma steam rolls through almost everyone around him. The problems I had with season 1 still haven’t been addressed and that left a sour taste in my mouth as everything seemed too easy for Souma. I really hope that when season 3 happens and Souma can finally go up against members of the Elite 10, and finds a significant challenger so as the whole structure of the series doesn’t feel to easy for him.
Food Wars! S2 isn’t as good as season 1. The animation and sound are relatively the same as season 1, the story of the second season is way weaker than the first having ended on a lacklustre mini arc; the story being predictable and the Autumn Elections felt dragged out at some points. The characters are better as this season built on the first season by exploring a lot of the minor characters backstories and their motivations. Overall the second season is a solid entry for the franchise, but lacking in some crucial areas in the story department.
For an example on how a second season is supposed to build on a solid foundation and improve it in every way look at Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and it’s follow-up season 2nd GIG. The series really knew how to expand on its universe and characters by developing the minor characters; but the series excelled in not letting those developments affect the story as the story was just as engaging as season 1.
And another series which features and OP main characters with a slew of supporting characters. I would recommend One-Punch Man, the series is a satirical look at the shōnen genre and is similar as how Food Wars laughs at shōnen traits by centring them around food related topics. I also talked about OPM in my recommendations list here.