[Honey’s Anime Interview] Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki (manga artists), and Noriko Dohi (anime producer) of “Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma”

Food Wars which hit the airwaves in the spring of 2015 quickly became a mainstay of many fans viewing schedule. The interesting characters, the competitive environment, ecchi moments and of course the food keep fans salivating on the edge of their seats. The story follows fifteen-year-old Souma Yukihira as he enters the most competitive cooking school in the world to prove that his down-home classic meals are equal to any gourmet cuisine. We had the chance to sit and talk with the Food Wars manga artists, Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki and the producer of the anime at Noriko Dohi about the manga, anime, and hints about what to expect from the fourth and final season.

Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki and Noriko Dohio

Honey's Anime Exclusive Interview with Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki and Noriko Dohio

How much research is done into the dishes that are presented in Food Wars?

Yuto Tsukuda: We actually meet every week and do a research meeting. We talk about a lot of dishes and keep a list. When we get to a part in the storyline that needs a dish we go through our list and decide which dish matches the character and the storyline. We sometimes have dishes that have been on the list for a year and some time has only been three days.

As a producer what do you think is the most important aspect in translating it from manga to anime?

Noriko Dohi: I really think the appeal of this show is in the culinary battles and the comedy. I think those two are the most appealing elements of Food Wars. I think in the creative process that it’s important to focus on those strong parts. You don’t naturally have super action-y elements in cooking, so you have to rely on the art to bring that out. We also need to make sure we show how cute and silly the characters are. I think those are the most important elements of the series. What I’ve learned from working on this series for a very long time is a big draw for people and wanted to carry that energy through into this season.

What challenges came up going into the final arc of the series?

Yuto Tsukuda: I did always have the concern about the ending wondering will the fans be satisfied. I want to warn you that this part is very spoiler-y if you haven’t read through to the end. I always wanted to see Souma and Erina getting hitched. So, yeah, it was difficult for me to get to that point naturally in the story and that became part of the reason I wrote it over and over again. I still hope that all the fans were satisfied with the ending.

Is there any character you wish you’d been able to spend some more time with?

Yuto Tsukuda: Rindo. It surprised me that she was so popular. I really wanted to write a story where Rindo was the main character and was the one battling through and beating all these other chefs.

Souma has unique confidence that allows him to make connections outside of his social standing. What is the inspiration for this aspect of his character?

Yuto Tsukuda: I really wanted to create a character that would match the art style. I also wanted to create a character that would get women excited (pause) due to his culinary skills. I knew that a cool male character that the girls would like wouldn’t be the kind of guy that would be all over them. So, I wanted a guy that was serious about his art.

What do you think about the popularity of the series and especially Souma internationally?

Shun Saeki: It’s amazing. I feel great about it.

Yuto Tsukuda: I actually get a lot of comparisons between Souma and Goku in Dragon Ball. I think outside of Japan they see similarities between Goku and Souma in that he is also not afraid of challenges, even when others are much stronger than he is.

Noriko Dohi: I really think Souma is the key to the success of the series. The character is easy to watch, and he is easy going. The problem is if a story gets too heavy people don’t want to watch or pay attention and Souma helps prevent that.

Do you ever imagine cooking with the same flare as the characters in Food Wars?

Yuto Tsukuda: I’ve always liked cooking. I cooked a lot when I was a student at university. But I don’t cook at all anymore.

Shun Saeki: I did cook a lot in the beginning when the series was serialized. So, when it started getting busy, I just didn’t want to cook at all. I didn’t even want to think about cooking. These days I’m thinking that maybe I should pick it up again.

Noriko Dohi: I actually cook on my own very often. When the first season was actually on air, I’d cook that dish and put it on social media. I saw a lot of the fans especially overseas were loving it. But, when there was an episode involving bear meat or crocodile meat, that I couldn’t do.

What was the greatest challenge in depicting the ecstasy of taste with each dish?

Shun Saeki: The limitations of manga are that it’s a still picture with the words of the character so it’s hard to describe things like the taste. I had to be creative to show things like flavor for example if it was a spicy dish and creating body language to convey that. I do sometimes don’t really want to emphasize the flavor but the comedic effect through the reactions. I think my favorite transformation was magical cabbage from episode 11. It was inspired by Sailor Moon and Precure. I just wanted to show Doujima as a magical girl.

What is it like working as a team on a manga project?

Yuto Tsukuda: The goal from the beginning was finding a story to highlight Saeki-sensei’s art.

Shun Saeki: I don’t believe that I have the storytelling skills that Tsukuda-sensei has so it is really a chemical reaction of our good parts working together and bringing this story to life.

What was the first thing you collaborated on?

Yuto Tsukuda: Food Wars is our first collaboration. But I already knew Saeki-sensei in the past as he was my senpai in university. He has always given me pointers.

What character would you choose as your personal chef?

Shun Saeki: Megumi. The food she makes is home cooking. It’s filled with love and kindness. So even when I’m older I won’t have to worry about her food being too spicy or hot.

Yuto Tsukada: Rindo. I want more excitement in my life. I’d want to have Rindo since she would bring excitement to the table. I think it would help you live longer.

Noriko Dohi: Shinomiya. The food he makes is very healthy. He uses a lot of vegetables. I think that because he is very sadistic as a character and being able to turn the tables on him by telling him what I want.

Final Thoughts

We thank Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki, and Noriko Dohi for sharing their time to speak with us about their involvement in the Food Wars manga and anime. We have our fingers crossed for a wonderful final season to serve as a beautiful and tasty dessert to the amazing courses they’ve served up thus far. The CRX 19 press corps also deserves our thanks for their contributions to this interview.

Food-Wars-Shokugeki-no-Soma-Crunchyroll-Expo-2019-560x315 [Honey’s Anime Interview] Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki (manga artists), and Noriko Dohi (anime producer) of “Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma”


Author: Zeke Changuris

I’m a journalist, writer, photographer, video producer, social media manager and above all a storyteller. I’m located on the east coast of the United States but travel the world with the love of my life. I’ve been a nerd since birth with a love of history and science. I fell in love with anime, watching ROBOTECH and Venus Wars in the 80s when our only source was secondhand VHS dubs. A crazy new thing called the internet changed that, giving me access to new and amazing anime every day. I love to write for work and pleasure. I’m living the dream of every kid, getting paid to watch anime and loving every subtitled line.

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