What do you get when you cross a high school harem-style manga, Yu-Gi-Oh/Pokemon stadium-esque battle sequences, and Iron Chef?  Yuto Tsukuda’s (author) and Shun Saeki’s (illustrator) Food Wars Shokugeki No Soma manga!

In a nutshell, Food Wars is a coming of age story where teen chef Soma Yukihira strives to one day defeat his dear father in a one-on-one cooking battle.  Along the way, he get enrolled in a prestigious cooking academy where he must test his mom-and-pop restaurant skills against world class talent in a series of cooking battles.  And along the way, due to his big heart, unwavering work ethic, and cocky attitude, he picks up a multitude of rivals, admirers, and companions.

You don’t get the creepy pervy vibe of other harem manga where absurdly attractive and under-dressed teens are throwing themselves at the hero in awkward situations.  Instead, the book somehow comes off extremely wholesome despite occasional humorous fan service.  I attribute this to the fact that Tsukuda focusses on Yukihira’s good-naturedness while taking the cooking seriously.

How serious, you ask? Serious to the point that every volume contains several recipes from dishes concocted in each food battle.

So let’s recap: Food Wars Shokugeki No Soma is a super-enjoyable, mostly wholesome manga with top-notch art and a real love of the culinary arts… and over-the-top cooking battles.

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