So Shokugeki No Soma has come back for a forth time in it's declining quality, and as it's to be expected.... It got worse.
I wanna be brief not to bore people with a lengthy review they won't read, so this won't be very long.
Story: it's a continuation of the last 3 seasons, except it's more predictable than gravity existing when you walk. If you have watched the previous 3, just watch it, but do know it's the worse of Shokugeki. It's also still following a formula heavily.
Art: The look of the anime can be replicated in a PowerPoint Presentation, there's at most 400 frames of
animation made for each episode, and 200 of those are stills and mouth flaps. The worse part is that not even the food manages to look half as good as it did in the previous seasons.
Characters: In short, they retain their motivations which are pretty well built. So not too much changed there, however, almost all of them are less fun than they where before after no personality growth in the previous seasons. The food isn't even as creative anymore, so if you really care about it, you won't like a big part of this season.
But again, you'll enjoy it if you have watched the previous seasons, you can binge watch it without much problem, and I recommend you do, because waiting one week every episode honestly makes the experience a lot worse.
This season is such a disappointment I created an account just to post about it. I have watched every other season of Food Wars and enjoyed them thoroughly, but this is nothing in comparison.
To put it bluntly, everything feels rushed. A good show, and especially a tournament arc, is addicting because there's tension and real weight behind failure. Here, so much is packed into one episode and lines of dialogue are crammed so tightly together that there's no space for tension to be built. It almost feels like a show recap, but the recap pace is the entire episode.
This is also reflected in the animation,
where the low number and poor quality of the character art is compensated for by having 80 to 90 percent of the shots all be panning shots to make them seem dynamic. As another reviewer put, it's nauseating. Furthermore, mouth movement is badly-timed and use poor-quality mouths and strange expressions that pull you out of the story. Even the foodgasms that made this series famous are now pale imitations of what they once were - there are no memorable or unique ones and the animation seems hurried on them.
The sound is also ruined by the pacing, with all the music being high-tempo. If there's no contrast to a more relaxed environment however it doesn't feel energetic and more just coked up - it's all very fake.
Overall I am incredibly disappointed as the previous seasons were all 8s or 9s in terms of enjoyment for me. Do yourself a favour and rewatch the old seasons and ignore this one.
Let me be frank: This show is not worth your time. If you feel watching it is the only way you'll enjoy the story then by all means, go ahead and do so. In my opinion, however, it'd be much easier to read the manga. "Easier?" you may ask yourself, "Why would it be easier? Surely the anime can be accessed with the same ease as the manga?". Well, dear reader, it would be correct to say that both are equally accessible, but that is not what I mean. In this case, easier means easier on the eyes. Put bluntly, the show is headache-inducing (more
on that just now).
Many people are of the mind that the story for Shokugeki starts to fall off around the time the new director, Azami Nakiri, takes over and the main cast effectively become criminals in the eyes of the rest of the student body. I think it's a bit far-fetched, but others may enjoy the escalation and that's perfectly fine. At this point, I'm not as engaged as I was in previous arcs.
The characters look great! The backgrounds, when they exist, look good too! Most importantly, the food looks God-tier as it does in previous seasons! Now you may be thinking "This guy just praised three of the most vital visual aspects of the show! How does art get a 4?!". Well the answer is quite simple (it's what we've all been waiting for!): panning shots.
The art of a show is the overall visual presentation of everything, that much is obvious, but this is not just limited to the way things are drawn but also the manner in which they are presented to the viewer. This show presents almost EVERY FRAME in EVERY EPISODE with these godawful panning shots. For 20 minutes at a time, you sit and watch the characters stand dead-still; their mouths flapping open and closed as they deliver their lines. But the directors must've realised that characters standing and talking would pointless as people could just read the manga. They realised they had to animate it somehow! So instead of, you know, animating cooking or something, they made every single frame a panning shot of some sort! YES! Because this would simulate movement and thus make everything okay! But alas, it looks like crap. Every new frame is panning in some random direction across the screen, along with random zoom-ins, zoom-outs, and diagonal/slanted shots. All of this means there is zero visual consistency for the most part, and makes the otherwise semi-interesting episode into an absolute nightmare to behold. It completely kills any and all chances to enjoy any episode.
The parts where characters react to the food, one of the best parts of the series honestly, is still enjoyable to witness (despite the fact that the panning shots even infect these scenes).
I generally don't notice sound too much but Shokugeki has a fairly good soundtrack which bolsters the impact of each scene (despite the fact that the panning shots ruin said scenes).
If you've watched the show up until now, you probably like most, if not all, the characters to some degree. The main cast and the Elite Ten have a variety of personalities and the way characters interact is good. The same formula of "thing happens and everyone is shocked" resumes in this season as well and makes everything seem more intense than it otherwise would've been. Some old faces make a reappearance and I was glad to see them back. Both factions have characters with powerful plot armour, however.
It's not great, but it's definitely not terrible. If you like the story, read the manga instead. If you've watched and enjoyed the previous seasons, or just like watching something mindlessly for 20 minutes and are immune to headaches or motion sickness, go ahead and watch it.