A shonen anime series doesn’t actually have to be about fighting, like Naruto or My Hero Academia. Some series embody the spirit of competition in other mediums, from gambling to sports, and in the case of Food Wars!, the competitive world of cooking.
This anime series is set in the Totsuki Culinary Academy, an elite school for the best student chefs in Japan. The 92nd class is a talented one, from Soma to Akira to Takumi, but two particular standouts are Alice Nakiri (cousin of Erina Nakiri) and her companion, Ryo Kurokiba. They often operate as a team, but they often compete, too, and there can only be one best chef. Does that title go to Alice, or does Ryo deserve it more?
10 Alice: Eye For Talent
A chef never operates alone. Even student chefs, like Soma and Megumi, are surrounded by friends and potential rivals, and a skilled chef will know who may be helpful to them someday … and who might be their next big culinary rival.
Alice Nakiri, meanwhile, has a good nose for talent, and she soon took an interest in Soma during the training camp arc. She was also the one who scouted out Ryo and recruited him to her side.
9 Ryo: Dual Personality
Ryo Kurokiba has two sides to him: one is calm and agreeable, and the other is downright vicious and competitive. Fortunately, Ryo doesn’t switch between these two modes at random – he controls it with his red bandana.
Ordinarily, he makes sure not to draw any attention with his calm side, but once that bandana is on, he’s all fired up, and this is a great way to keep his ultra-competitive side tightly controlled. This makes him a sharp and effective chef.
8 Alice: Presentation
Looks aren’t everything when it comes to food, but it sure helps, and not just any chef can make a dish look appealing to the eye. In fact, high-end restaurant chefs pride themselves on making a dish look like a work of art.
When it comes to presentation, few chefs can top Alice Nakiri, whose science-based cooking style results in some gorgeous and elegant dishes, such as this bento box that she made during the Autumn Elections. Her grandfather was delighted and compared it to a jewel box.
7 Ryo: Passion For Victory
Ryo can switch back and forth between hot and cold, as described above, and when he is fired up, it seems that nothing can stop him. He’s not just boastful or confrontational – he channels that energy into his cooking.
His seafood dishes pack a wallop, and the flavors involved have a fierce, bold strength to match Ryo’s own personality and wow the judges. It works time and again, and it took the likes of Akira Hayama, the spice master, to stop him (and then, very narrowly).
6 Alice: Science Background
Most student chefs at Totsuki have a distinct style or method for their cooking, from smoked meats to fermenting beans to seafood, and in Alice’s case, she is an expert in gastromomy – the science of food and flavor.
Such a clinical approach could lead to generic, mass-produced sorts of dishes, since science is about data, not art or emotion. But Alice found a balance, and her food is both delicious and engineered by science, for the perfect flavor.
5 Ryo: Defeated Soma
The Autumn Elections had an interesting twist to them. Soma defeated Subaru to reach the finals, and meanwhile, Ryo and Akira both impressed the judges so well, they both advanced to the final round. It was now a three-way battle for the crown.
Ryo did not win, but he did take second place, and the match’s theme, Pacific saury, was a boon to him. Soma did his best, but seafood is Ryo’s strength, and what he concocted was better than Soma’s own creation. Very impressive.
4 Alice: Precise Instrument Use
All of the top-rated chefs at Totsuki have fine control over their ingredients and their cookware during a shokugeki, from stovetop temperatures and oven times to finely dicing vegetables and fruits to even-sized bits. Alice takes this even further.
She uses all kinds of scientific instruments for her cooking (what a sight), and it takes a steady hand to use such hardware to make perfectly prepared food. It’s an odd mix, but Alice doesn’t just make it work. She does it to an incredibly fine degree.
3 Ryo: Early Pressure
Ryo has a lot of experience in the kitchen, and this early experience helped define him as a chef (and sharpen those skills). Even as a young boy, Ryo was a master in the kitchen, and he faced all kinds of pressure to succeed. All the older chefs doubted him.
This drove Ryo to reach new heights, and he defied everyone around him by exceeding all expectations. This shaped him as an ultra-competitive chef who can’t stand anyone looking down on him, and he makes the most of it. He’s been a fighter from the start.
2 Alice: Deep Knowledge
Many of the chefs at Totsuki, as mentioned earlier, have narrow specialties, and this also somewhat limits their cooking knowledge. Other chefs, like Soma and Erina, have much broader knowledge. Alice does, too.
Her specialty, gastronomy, can work with all kinds of ingredients, rather than something specific, like “smoking meat” or “vegetables.” With this diversity of ingredients and equal knowledge of the science behind it all, Alice can concoct just about anything. Ryo is a little more specialized.
1 Ryo: Unshakable
Some of the students, when they face defeat or failure, start to doubt themselves or lose their confidence. Takumi was shaken to his core when Subaru beat him, and Alice took her defeat at Soma’s hands pretty hard.
But this isn’t the case for Ryo. Defeat just means he comes back twice as motivated, and his quest to become the best never slows down a bit. Unless he snaps (he hasn’t so far), this should serve him well, and his progress will be quick. He won’t take the time to feel sorry for himself or second-guess anything.
In Food Wars, Alice and her companion, Ryo, often collaborate but they sometimes compete. Who would win in a battle? Take a look!