I’ve been reading Shokugeki no Souma lately. Despite my scant interest in cooking, it’s a fun manga. In order to spread my appreciation of the series, I decided to translate an interview with the editor of the Shokugeki no Souma manga, which is published on the Shonen Jump+ website. It’s part of a series called 推す！この一話はコレだ！(translated in this post as “Check out this chapter!”), where the Shonen Jump editors pick out their favourite chapter of the manga they’re working on and talk about it in detail.
Although it was published early in the series run, I translated this interview because it discusses one of my favourite chapters, along with shedding light onto the creative process behind the manga.
(Note: Names are given in Western order: First name last name.)
A 33-year-old who has been in the company for 10 years. The first editor who worked with Tsukuda and Saeki. Has lately been interested in the ingredients and cuisine of various local regions.
Check out this chapter!
Jump Comics volume 3 chapter 21 “The Supreme Recette” & volume 1 chapter 4 “The Demon King Talks About ‘Gems’”
The iconic scene that brought the artist to tears
Q. Continuing from last time, two chapters have been selected, going against the corner’s name! Nakamichi-san, why did you select two chapters for “Check out this chapter!”?
Nakamichi: My first choice was the final chapter in volume 3, chapter 21: “The Supreme Recette,” but it’s already been discussed to death (laughs). So I prepared one more chapter that I’ve never talked about before.
Q. Ohhh! Thanks for putting in the effort! Then could you please start with “The Supreme Recette”?
Nakamichi: Souma’s classmate Tadokoro gets expelled unreasonably by the master chef Shinomiya. Souma couldn’t accept the reasoning behind why she was expelled, so in order to save her, he declares war against Shinomiya… that’s what the chapter’s about.
Nakamichi: Souma normally faces everything with a laugh and a wry sense of humour, but this time his “fury” was palpable. This was the moment that revealed how Souma, who usually comes across as an inscrutable guy, is deeply human. He thinks of his friends and is hot-headed.
Q. It was the chapter that made me realise that Souma felt strongly about Tadokoro as a friend.
Nakamichi: In the beginning, Souma probably felt nothing towards Tadokoro-chan. But after living with her in the same dorm and going to school with her, he got to know her good points and gradually came to see her as his friend. Then, after seeing her fail for a reason he could not accept, he recklessly challenged the teacher without even thinking about his own position… It was a highly charged scene, I think.
Q. What did the artist say about this chapter?
Nakamichi: Saeki-sensei, who does the artwork for the series, said he was extremely moved, and that he was brought to tears as he drew the chapter.
Q. Well now! Come to think of it, Tadokoro’s expression when she heard about her expulsion was heartbreaking to look at, and Souma’s declaration hit me in the gut.
Nakamichi: Tadokoro-chan’s expression in the panel straight after Souma challenges Shinomiya to a shokugeki was a nice touch. Her tears, and then the explosion after the silence… The way this scene flows really brings out good feelings. Plus, the previous week’s chapter showed Tadokoro-chan in a tough situation, so it no doubt left readers extremely curious about how this week’s events would play out. The tension continued from the previous chapter 20 into chapter 21, which I think really amped up the tension into a climax.
Q. I thought it was really cool when Souma openly gave off a “protagonist”-like vibe.
Nakamichi: Thank you for saying that. It was very difficult to produce a chapter for the week after he showed his coolness… (laughs) We couldn’t make Souma fight in Tadokoro-chan’s place, we couldn’t make him win against Shinomiya, and of course we couldn’t make him lose. Picking a fight is all well and good, but what comes next? (laughs) In the midst of all those constraints, Tsukuda-sensei came up with a fitting conclusion to the Shinomiya showdown that would cause no one to fail.
Q. The start of that Shinomiya arc is not chapter 21, is it?
Nakamichi: You’re right. …So next up is the chapter you can’t not mention when talking about the Shokugeki no Souma manga: chapter 4 “The Demon King Talks About ‘Gems’”
The moment that completed the preparations for school
Q. What kind of chapter is this?
Nakamichi: It’s Souma’s opening ceremony. The story is set in Tootsuki Academy, a super elite cooking school. The director of the school, who is feared as “food’s demon king” gives out a dramatic speech: “99% of you are sacrificial stones in order to polish the remaining 1% gems.” All the students who heard that comforted themselves by thinking that they would become the 1%. But then straight after that, Souma, a transfer student, has the gall to announce, as if he’s the Prime Minister speaking in front of the Diet: “I only think of this academy as a stepping stone.”
Q. To the students who have been there all along, that was an eye-popping moment. What’s this guy saying? (laughs)
Nakamichi: Yep. With that declaration, Souma turned every student into his enemy. In other words, everyone in Souma’s grade instantly acknowledged his existence. Every other character now had a reason to pick a fight with Souma, and even Tadokoro-chan, who now has such faith in him, vowed to stay away from “that transfer student.” On top of establishing the school, you could also say it decided Souma’s relative standing, and that it created an antagonistic setup.
Q. You hadn’t decided on this kind of setup from the beginning?
Nakamichi: That’s right. We had decided in broad strokes to make him defeat the strong people in the academy dramatically, but we hadn’t settled on an idea on how to do that. Then one day Saeki-sensei came up with a plan to make Souma do a big speech.
Q. Isn’t Saeki-sensei in charge of the drawings?!
Nakamichi: He said to me, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if he declares he’ll surpass the director?” We talked about it with Tsukuda-sensei and they eagerly decided to do it. Tsukuda-sensei based the director’s speech on a true story I had heard before, and then skillfully added Souma’s declaration to make it feel more complete.
Q. So it was Nakamichi-san’s idea…!
Nakamichi: I heard that they said that during the opening ceremony of a fine arts college somewhere. It’s like raining on those new students’ parade… Stepping stone is a harsh phrase. But from then on all the students resolved not to be eaten by the creative world… It’s interesting to say it straight out~ I’ve always wanted to try using it in a story.
Souma is a four-way collaboration!
Q. I’d been wondering about this for a while, but how is Shokugeki no Souma made?
Nakamichi: Tsukuda-sensei and I are supposed to have meetings together so that Tsukuda-sensei can work out the story, but in reality Saeki-sensei comes along, and when you add Morisaki-sensei to the mix, that makes four people who come to the meetings. We all have different opinions and things we’re picky about, so we get more ideas flowing when there are three or four of us. The schedule of a weekly serialisation is packed, so meeting up every week without fail is difficult, but we meet up and talk at least once a month.
Q. I kind of assumed that you and Tsukuda-san decide on the content, which you then relay to Saeki-sensei, who does the drawings…
Nakamichi: When we meet up to work on the story, we also go over the artwork as well… Well, come to think of it, that doesn’t usually happen with other works. I think that Souma has a relatively unique creative process. Of course we meet up whenever we decide on the major story developments, and so everyone helped create the chapters we discussed before: “The Supreme Recette” and “The Demon King Talks About ‘Gems.’”
Each chapter is easy and fun to read!
Q. Sell this work to the public! Are there any things worth highlighting?
Nakamichi: Fundamentally, we strive to make a manga that’s interesting to read every week. It’s easy for anyone to read, it gets you pumped up, and plus the food looks delicious. When you’re reading a bit of it at your friend’s house or sampling a chapter on your smartphone, I hope it makes you think: “Well, that was pretty interesting.” I guess that’s the hidden theme of the story. That’s why we decided as a rule of thumb not to include any particularly difficult plot developments.
Q. The theme is cooking, but the story is told very much like a quintessential manga.
Nakamichi: Take the moment when Souma’s cool side finally came to surface in the latest chapters. We’d be happy if his protagonist-like qualities could get across to the readers as well. The other characters also have their individual sides, so it’s going to get more interesting from here on out. Finally, you can actually make the dishes that appear in the manga in real life. Not only would I like people to enjoy the story and the character actions, I’d also like them to have fun with the “cooking” parts, which make up the main theme of the manga. That also includes the reactions of the characters who eat the cooking (laughs).
Q. Of course! Thank you very much! Yessir! And that concludes our interview. …Incidentally, who is the most popular female character?
Nakamichi: Hmm… That will be released soon. So you can “dig in” to the results of the first character popularity poll! …And that’s all I’ll say for now (laughs).
Q. That was cheesy!
Translator’s commentary: You can check out the character popularity polls here. My personal favourite character is Megumi.
The official website also has some interesting features, including interviews with the voice actors (you can read a partial translation here) and a cooking show with Souma’s voice actor Yoshitsugu Matsuoka. I still haven’t seen the anime yet, but I’m pretty hyped for season 2!
As always, if you enjoyed this translation, please consider sending me a commission. Thank you for reading!
I really like this manga, nice to see this interview… While best girl is Erina imo, the one I really think deserves to win number 1 is Megumi, because I think Erina is already too powerful, so seeing her winning wouldn’t really be that fun. On the other hand, Megumi has shown an impressive development: she was able to put out all her creativity and talent everyone knew she was capable of, even when she herself didn’t believe it.
Will you also TL the World Trigger interview?
Yeah, I think the reason why I support Megumi is because she’s surrounded by so many powerful characters. Even Souma himself reminds me of the MC from Prince of Tennis in the sense that he’s already powerful at the beginning and his only major rival is his father. In a way, Megumi is more like a character you’d expect to see in a shonen manga: someone who starts at the very bottom and works her way to the top.
I won’t translate the World Trigger interview because I’ve never read WT.
Thank you for translating this interview, it was really interesting :)
Glad you liked it!
I think when I read chapter 21 at the time, I was pretty much like, “holy crap, what the hell Souma? I don’t think you can win against that guy!” But it was definitely interesting in how it ended. And heh, bringing Saeki to tears…I hope no tears spilled on the page, so he didn’t have to do it over!
Thanks for the translation Frog-kun!
You’re welcome! I think that chapter 21 was one of the highlights for me as well. I think it was all the more satisfying because it ended up with Megumi proving her own worth, rather than Souma bailing her out. With Souma, you already know he’s awesome from the get go, but Megumi starts from the bottom. That made the outcome of the shokugeki harder to anticipate.
I think Souma’s artist used to draw hentai under another name. Tosh, was it? The artstyle’s very familiar, especially since the currently airing Active Raid anime’s using his character designs too. Have you seen it yet?
I haven’t seen Active Raid yet, no. I heard it wasn’t very good.
And yeah, Shun Saeki is Tosh.
The reason why I dislike Megumi or character like her is because there’s nothing to hate about her. Characters like her are kind of unfair and bland because she had zero hate-able flaws.
My reaction after reading the first 100+ chapters is ‘what the hell the author is thinking?’. I mean, Megumi: given the nicest possible personality, a lot of character development (to the point that most secondary characters didn’t get any character development), a lot of screentime. Erina: given the worst possible personality, lack of character development, lack of screentime despite being the one of three main characters and main heroine of the oneshot.
I’m glad that Erina manage to beat Megumi at both polls despite all the disadvantages.
Well, I think that depends on your definition of flaws. I would consider Megumi’s perpetual insecurity and lack of decisiveness undeniably a flaw. Yes, Erina has the opposite problem since she’s so high and mighty, but even though Megumi comes through as more likeable than Erina – they’re both flawed. If someone like Megumi was the protagonist we’d find it absolutely exasperating.
Maybe I’m among the minority here but characters like Megumi, Onodera (Nisekoi), or any similar character, doesn’t deserve more love than those characters which were being potrayed as bad guys/antagonists/bitchy because having hate-able flaws is natural for normal human. I’ve never met perfectly nice people with nothing to be hated about them in real life.
Characters with more hate-able flaws are more real and relatable than characters without hate-able flaws.
Interesting how you mention Onodera because I happen to dislike her character a lot! https://frogkun.com/2014/05/28/onodera-sucks/
For what it’s worth, I think that Megumi’s timidness / lack of self confidence are presented as serious character flaws in the context of the story. Honestly, I found her more relatable than Souma.
For the record, I don’t dislike any character in the series.
based on some japanese forums i visit, it seems a lot of fans started shipping takumi with megumi after latest chapters. no surprise to me since he made megumi blushes just with his cool line in chapter 149 (both of them also loyal to souma :)
p.s: i just check anime character design for megumi and urara (the idol/announcer girl) and basically, urara’s character design is cuter/better version of megumi’s lol
oh please, megumi character development have a lot of a**pull and bullsh*t. i mean when the series started, she’s shown to score low marks during exam and later right before autumn election she suddenly get high marks without any explanation. she got plot armor is the only explanation I got from the series.
not enough with that she somehow get sudden power up during autumn election preliminaries and quarter final. she got plot armor is the only explanation I got from the series.
the most disappointing part of her character is during stagaire week. after all character development she got, I thought she has already gotten over her nervousness but no.
she can’t even and just give up on voicing out her opinion (about sauce) after being intimidated. I mean she could at least voice out her opinion, whether that chef accept it or not is another matter(if it was yuki, she would have voice out her opinion no matter who she faces, hell she didn’t even give a damn about azami)
her whole character development is basically make people pity at her which is quite lame.
with those many panel time and developments of hers she can’t even defeat erina (and even takumi in the second poll) in term of popularity. even Japanese can see that her character is not that good. what a waste character (the other residents in psd are even more interesting than her).
a lot of people like because she’s nice and all. I hope tsukuda-sensei show her bad side later in the series(as hinted by the spoiler given by him) since right now she’s just an one-dimensional character as her good side is the only thing we saw from her.
And here I thought that I was the only one who think that they’re being unfair towards Erina. I mean from chapter 1 (or even the one-shot) she’s potrayed as someone who is irredeemable with all those personality given to her.
Thanks to that, people keep assuming the worst when it comes to her like when Souma face problem during 200 dishes task, they accusing that Erina sabotaged him or when Souma lost to Hayama, they speculated that she will look down on him even more when in reality she does nothing and instead she’s no longer try to expel him.
I found it really unfair when people said Erina is arrogant but said nothing when Souma is being arrogant.
Also I’m not really a fan of Megumi. People keep saying that she deserve to win because she work really hard but it seems that they’re forgetting something… majority of the characters are working really hard too. The only reason why Megumi seems to work the hardest is because the story focus mostly on her for the first part of the story.
I feel really bad for other PSD members (minus Souma and Isshiki) because no matter how hard they tried, they’ll never be able to defeat Megumi thanks to the plot.
yeah, the impressions in each dishes makes me pause (‘O’) every time. read this manga and watch anime makes me hungry so can’t do when nighttime, hehe~.
so, high possibility is this editor influenced tsukuda-sensei to give more focus on megume out of favoritism? it has happened before with other manga series where the editor get fired for forcing something onto the author.
tsukuda-sensei pointed out that megume’s feeling for souma is just admiration and not love, having her first foodgasm as an orgy honey bath with chapelle-sensei, make megume get pierce-through-the-heart foodgasm after eating hayama’s curry, make her blush after takumi said some cool line in chapter 149, make megume drools and craves for kurokiba’s dish and get foodgasm from it in chapter 157, make her keep yelling ‘kurokiba-kun’ while blushing and just look how happy/excited she is when kurokiba wins his Shokugeki with ren in chapter 159. I found it funny just when she get some screentime after the recent events, her only role was just being takumi and kurokiba’s fangirl.
wow, one hell of disgusting things she has done here.
hey look what I found. I just check the characters section in shokugeki manga vol. 1-16 (Japanese) and something interesting. for some reason megumi’s no longer in the ‘main’ character section (this section has larger space than normal characters) in vol. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11(she’s not even in character section), 12(same she’s not in character section) and 13 (same. she’s not in character section). her appearance in character section is so inconsistent.
souma and erina were the only ones in the main character section from the first volume until the latest volume. it seems the ‘usual’ positioning of the characters are: souma and erina in one page, megumi is in other page along with other characters and the ‘unusual’ positioning of the characters are: souma and erina in one page, souma(again) and focus characters of the volume in other page. From this positioning I assume the characters importance in overall plot (including future plot) is souma>erina>megumi>others.
not forgot to mention that souma and erina are the main character of the oneshot (chapter 0): the pilot chapter of the series itself.
Oh, Megumi~ The Ms. Nice-girl-who-never-do-anything-bad and the so-called saint. Your character development is basically a repetition of the same formula a) Make you miserable b) Make you overcome it. Can’t even resist the manliness of Ryo’s food, you even have a massive foodgasm from it. Keep blushing to Isami, Takumi and Ryo, you’re definitely not faithful to men. Your specialty is hospitality/motherly food, you’re the one who suppose to cook for others, and that is why you’re not going to be the woman who will be choose to cook for. Barely have any dislikable flaws, you’re definitely just a two dimensional character. Your popularity keep dropping, realisation of people on how pointless character you’re. Keep following guys like a pest, surely you’re just another parasite. Your feat of making the Demon King aroused to the point of making his loin cloth falls, is pretty disgusting.
[…] What amazed me the most about this anime was the depth that it went into its subject matter. Yuki Morisaki is a Japanese chef who also happens to serve as one of the collaborators for the manga and anime. She gives input and provides recipes that are used in the story. Her contributions are very apparent because all of the seemingly intricate dishes that are made in the series use real recipes and techniques. The editor of the manga even came out and said in an interview that all of the dishes in the series are very doable to make in real life, and that one of the goals… […]
I’M really RELIEVED as well. Because Erina can hold a candle as the second spot in the popularity poll. I mean she almost got below 5%of screen time when i see she has a lot of potential progress after chapter 00. I also agree to your comments guys. I think Megumi get many screentime because of favoritism.
When the funny thing is, Erina has no big character development so far. Even though she’s supposed to be the main protagonist. And yeah, it remind me so much of Hilda from beelzebub meh. Because of Kunieda favoritism. Not that i hate Megumi, its just sad to see the supposedly main get wipe away. And definitely yes, Souma also acts arrogant but people only see faults in Erina. I dont understand. Is it because boys/mans can act cocky and when they do they looked cool?? While girls who is like that seems bitchy. Wow what a world. She has never done ill to Souma except she fail him at first. Which is immediately resolve because grandpa accept him.
Also about Erina destroying buildings and abolishing many RS, despite all, it is through a SHOKUGEKI and both party has come to an agreement to it. Huh so she has the right to have her prize. Really.
And yes. Even other characters work hard too. But it will be megumi who gets the sunshine. Why? Because of plotarmor. And again.