“Onward on the Totsuki Train” officially begins the Advancement Exams for the Polar Star Dormitory students, and fully reveals the utter ridiculousness of Azami’s bizarre plan for world culinary domination.
From the very beginning of “Onward on the Totsuki Train”, you can tell that Azami’s incomprehensible plan is actually working. A bevy of brainwashed students gleefully take his preparatory class, where he basically lays out exactly how it’s going to be at the exams. This is the Shokugeki no Soma equivalent of giving your students a “study sheet” and then literally giving the same sheet for the exam. This entire arc is ridiculous and never fully explained. I don’t understand how a school can claim to be the best culinary school in the country (or the world) if all it does is churn out a bunch of cookie-cutter chefs with no creativity of their own.
“Onward on the Totsuki Train” also proves that Central is completely hypocritical in approaching its own goals. Azami’s whole spiel is about the unfairness of Totsuki’s “eat or be eaten” mentality and giving everyone an equal shot; however, the few “rebels” who have the audacity to want to invent their own creations are given inferior ingredients and basically set up to fail. Not to mention, these rebels contain some of the best students in the academy. What kind of elite institution are you if you purposely fail your most promising students? The Central members are basically Saturday morning cartoon villains – over-the-top evil but incredibly inept. Still, it’s frustrating to know that these are adults purposely sabotaging the futures of teenagers because one guy doesn’t like them that much.
But one thing this episode absolutely nailed is, again, the relationships. Erina is determined that none of the rebels should have reason to fail and starts supplementary study groups for all of them, drilling them on all the information they’ll need for the upcoming exam. She insists that all of them participate and practically forces Yukihira to take it seriously. It’s that dedication that actually saves them in the first round, as Yukihira recalls important information that allows them to find their own ingredients and bring their instructor to her knees with the awesomeness of their dish.
“Onward on the Totsuki Train” also does a great job at highlighting Erina’s development in particular, showcasing how different she is now than she was at the beginning of the series. She was so condescending and dismissive of the PSD kids, and none of them were really all that fond of her. And now she has Megumi bringing her tea and Sakaki trying to get her to go to the spa. But of course, the greatest relationship development is between Erina and Yukihira, and I cannot hide the fact that I am a super massive Sorina shipper and this episode just made me giggle with delight (much like Erina!).
The pacing has picked up a little bit, but if the manga is anything to go by, soon it will slow way down. Perhaps it’s not the best idea to skate through these exams, but if the OP is to be believed, they have a lot of material to cover and only 12 episodes in which to do so. As it is right now, I don’t mind the faster pace, so long as all of the important bits get kept.
Have you seen “Onward on the Totsuki Train”? What did you think?
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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