Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara – Totsuki Ressha-hen Episode 9
Quite the interesting episode with a lot of fleshing out for both Joichiro and Azami, and even Dojima. Joichiro’s backstory was something I’ve been curious about ever since the arrival of Director Azami into Totsuki, and I must say it was heartbreaking to watch Joichiro ascend to such heights but burn out. But the insight into the Totsuki Academy of the past and the Golden Age of Polar Star was fascinating, and I would honestly be interested in a spinoff series following the previous generation and their exploits. Who doesn’t want to see a younger Dojima or Azami face off against their generation’s cooking giants?
Something that Shokugeki excels at as a show is the interactions between its various characters. Quite a number of times over the past few seasons, I’ve enjoyed watching the cast banter with each other more so than the high stakes Shokugeki themselves. This episode was no different albeit in a different generation. Watching Joichiro teasing a younger Azami while the rest of Polar Star cheered him on was heartwarming, and really seemed like a great time for everyone involved. Even Jun was there and it was cute to see that she also fell victim to Saiba’s disgusting dishes. The only slightly weird part was how teenage Azami had the same voice actor was adult Azami, it was a bit creepy!
The desert pioneer motif was an interesting one that encaptured Saiba quite well. At first, he’s journeying into the unknown with Azami and Dojima, and together they’re beating all odds and discovering new wonders. However, soon Azami and Dojima fall off, but then the question arises of did they abandon Saiba or did Saiba abandon them? Knowing the fierce competitive spirit of both Dojima and Azami, along with their admiration of Saiba, it seems unlikely that they’d willingly let Saiba go so far ahead. I think it’s more likely that Saiba was forced to zoom forward and leave the two in the dust, unknowingly causing his doom as he chose to accept the 1v50 Team Shokugeki. After all, the pressure solely on him with the entire culinary world eagerly awaiting his next dish. Perhaps if Dojima and Azami could’ve held on to Saiba’s relentless pace into the unknown, Saiba would never have lost his fire for cooking.
Watching Joichiro take on fifty opponents in a Shokugeki was insanely satisfying, and also a bit unnerving. Souma works his butt off and is probably exhausted after one Shokugeki against a single person, but Joichiro faced fifty contestants in multiple rounds! His shirt grab of the snobby student that challenged him was super satisfying as well, Joichiro isn’t going to take your cowardly nonsense buddy. Souma has gotten riled up before, such as during his match against Hayama a couple episodes earlier, but that only happens when someone he respects acts pathetically. For Joichiro, who is very similar to Souma, to have gotten that angry is a testament to how far on the edge he was.
Joichiro going missing before BLUE was a bit unexpected, I actually thought he’d go to the competition but serve up one his signature horrible dishes before quitting the culinary world. Instead, Joichiro is sitting alone in a Shokugeki hall for Dojima to find him. It must’ve been absolutely terrible for Dojima to find Joichiro like that, and the guilt for not being able to have stopped Saiba before he reached that point must’ve been insane. The revelation that Saiba made disgusting foods as a way to relieve the pressure was both sad and fitting, and honestly, I’m slightly angry at the culinary world that forced Saiba into this pit. I’m not sure if Azami’s way of going about things is the best route, but Saiba got the short end of the stick and I genuinely pity what happened to him. However, this tragedy allowed him to meet Souma’s mother, so it wasn’t all that bad. Souma is his shining light after all.
Although this episode answered a number of questions I’ve had since the show’s first episode, I’m still waiting on the backstory of Souma’s mother. When will we meet the woman who gave Saiba a reason to cook again? How amazing is she? Where is she? Furthermore, I believe there’s more to Azami’s motivation than what was revealed here. Perhaps an explanation from his angle will clear things up further.