Welcome to This Week in Shonen Jump, our weekly check in on Viz’s various Shonen Jump series. Viz has recently changed their release format, but our format will mostly remain the same. We will still review the newest chapters of one title a week, now with even more options at our disposal. The big change for our readers is that, even without a Shonen Jump subscription, you can read these most recent chapters for free at Viz.com or using their app.
This week, Kerry checks in with “Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Sanji.” If you have thoughts on this or any other current Shonen Jump titles, please let us know in the comments!
Food Wars!: Shokugeki No Sanji — Ch. 2
Written by Yuto Tsukuda
Illustrated by Shun Saeki
Reviewed by Kerry Erlanger
This week, fans of “One Piece” received two treats from Shonen Jump: the release of the 1000th chapter of the manga, as well as a long-awaited update to the “One Piece” spinoff of “Food Wars.” It’s always exciting to get content like “Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Sanji,” both to see how another creator handles the characters and to enjoy a storyline that’s solely meant for the fans’ enjoyment. There’s no agenda here, no desire to move an overarching plot along. Chapter 2 simply serves up a little fanservice in the form of a cooking challenge. What more could you want?
The challenger to the Straw Hat Pirates, and specifically Sanji, in chapter 2 is the rare and coveted draconic super-filleted salmon, a.k.a. dragon salmon, courtesy of a castaway named Ruibe who is doing his darndest to prepare the fish in time for his daughter’s wedding. Artist Shun Saeki leans into some classic manga tropes in his depiction of Ruibe, who looks the part of a hardened rural fisherman next to his daughter who is, of course, delicate and beautiful. Character designs like this always make me feel a little weird, because they give off the impression that women are something precious and meant to be shielded from the harsh realities of life. Admittedly, my cultural perspective as an American woman drives my reading; Saeki likely doesn’t mean for his characters to come off like this, or at least not in an intentional, life commentary sort of way (like I said, these are well-trodden tropes). This difference, though, is a great reminder of how important it is to understand Japanese culture to some extent when reading manga. Content never exists in a vacuum.
On the flip side, Ruibe’s fish hat is a fashion statement I’m willing to get behind. Is it a real fish? Fake? If it’s real, does it smell? Why does the one guy at the end wear a crab instead of a fish like everyone else? These are important questions that we never get answered by either Saeki or writer Yuto Tsukudu and I am upset.
Sanji’s culinary prowess unfortunately doesn’t seem to stack up to the challenge of carefully slicing the dragon salmon. Like the real-life blowfish, which can kill you if not prepared exactly right, the dragon salmon requires a series of cuts by a skilled chef. Sanji manages to do the first several cuts with ease, but finds the final belly slice to be near impossible. Luckily Ruibe has purchased an entire bucket of dragon salmon to practice on (Another unanswered question — what happens to all the fish they mess up? What a waste!). They’re definitely needed as Sanji messes up one slice after another. Saeki illustrates these mistakes hilariously. The fish effectively explode all over the person preparing them, which is an effective way to truly highlight one’s failure. The fact that Ruibe fails to warn them about this makes it all the more amusing.
The challenge leads to a cute ceasefire between Sanji and Zoro, who began the chapter arguing for the sake of arguing. They find common ground in their ability to wield blades, and Zoro’s sword coupled with Sanji’s skill gives them the edge they need to successfully fillet the fish’s belly. It’s sweet seeing Zoro give Sanji a begrudging respect by helping him out, especially understanding how precious the sword is to Zoro. Lending it to something is not an act that he, nor longtime “One Piece” readers, should take lightly. Though of course, he does get rewarded in the end with a delicious feast of supposedly some of the best fish money can buy, so whether or not this was truly an act of magnanimity is up for debate. Judging by the weird illustration Saeki makes of Nami in what appears to be a food-induced orgasm, no one can resist the siren’s call of the dragon salmon. Not even hardened pirates.
Final Verdict: 8.0 — Overall a fun oneshot that gives longtime fans some extra content while requiring no prior knowledge of the series to enjoy.