What a surprisingly emotional episode! Coming from last week’s brawl during the cooking process, Hayama’s revelation and meeting with Jun was super cathartic and a great change in direction.
The episode began with the introduction of Hayama’s dish which wasn’t the flashiest of dishes we’ve seen, but managed to impress the judges nevertheless. Fried bear meat isn’t something one sees everyday, but as expected of J.C Staff, it looked amazing. Judging from the reactions of Soe Nakiri, Cilla, and Berta, it must’ve tasted great too. The analogy chosen for the fried bear dish was a bear soaring through the sky, implying that it ascended all expectations and leapt past the standards set by Yukihira’s dish.
It was after the initial reactions of the judges that I became a bit curious on how Souma would make his way out of this. He had already offered his dish up for taste, and I most definitely wasn’t expecting the sauce portion of the exam to have such weight. I’m not too sure how I feel about this twist on the Shokugeki formula because while it does add much needed variety, it feels a bit strange going from Souma food, to Hayama food, and then, “But wait there’s more Souma food!”
However, when the show displayed the analogy of Hayama pounding Souma into the ground, it becomes quite obvious that Souma has an ace under his sleeve. Now at this point, Hayama’s character has been revealed to have gone against Jun’s wishes, and that made me both pity and hate him. He’s not wrong in that he wishes to protect Jun’s research, but if she herself is willing to give that research up, then Hayama should accept that. Going so far as to fighting against a former friend and abandoning one’s own identity as a chef is too much man!
The reveal of Souma’s secret sauce change the tides in Souma’s favor, causing “The Gift,” to trigger from Soe Nakiri. I think it’s hilarious how the Nakiri clan’s ability of shirt ripping on will is inked onto an ancient scroll as if it was sorcery. I was further surprised to discover that the shirt rip technique had an evolved form, and basically interpreted this Shokugeki as Souma going Super Saiyan against a Frieza Hayama.
But the highlight of the episode for me was Hayama getting scolded by Dojima and Jun, along with his revelations on why he cooks. Soe Nakiri emphasizes the importance of a chef pursuing culinary expertise in their own image, one who can display his individuality and labor through his cooking. Yukihira Souma is the epitome of that ideal, always going above and beyond to find perfection in his dishes. For his bear dish, he spent days travelling throughout the mountains and experimenting with ingredients, finally perfecting his minced bear meat with Amur cork tree honey. Furthermore, Souma is cooking for someone in mind and I think that’s such an important aspect of Shokugeki as a whole. It’s not enough to simply be a great chef, and as Joichiro Saiba says, “You need to find someone to cook for.”
Hayama on the other hand, has lost his way in the culinary field. With the absence of Jun, he no longer has someone he wants to hear say, “It’s delicious!” Instead, his cooking loses its personal punch and although it’s a near perfect fortress of a dish, it lacks the special drive that Souma’s cooking has. Dojima questions Hayama and asks him if he truly put his heart into the dish, if he put as much into the food as Souma had, but Hayama cannot answer. It’s at this point that Souma lashes out and yells at Hayama for losing his way as a chef. Souma didn’t try so hard for this match just because he wanted to stay in school, it was for Hayama as well. Souma explains that he hates seeing Hayama like this and misses the old Hayama that would theorycraft with Kurokiba back during the Autumn Elections.
Jun comes in for the final knockout revelation and tells Hayama not to worry about the Shiomi research group. I believe this marks the turning point for Hayama as a chef, and perhaps against Central itself. Jun couldn’t care less about keeping her research group because after raising Hayama, she discovered that she’s much happier seeing Hayama cooking with his friends and smiling. Honestly a perfect episode to air on Mother’s Day, and it almost brought a tear to my eye.
Overall, I loved the episode and that after credits scene has me spooked! Major props to our boy Souma for finally defeating Hayama, but all your friends are expelled! The stakes have grown even higher Souma, how the hell do you and Nakiri recover from this disaster?