One Piece spinoff one-shot Shokugeki no Sanji sees the duo behind Food Wars!, Shun Saeki and Yuto Tsukuda, share their spin on Eiichiro Oda’s iconic character. But this one-shot was released almost one year ago – why are we talking about it now?
In the first instance, this is because VIZ Media has only just translated and published the one-shot on October 23 via their Shonen Jump service, over a year after the one-shot’s original publication last July in issue no. 33 of Weekly Shonen Jump. Better late than never, I suppose.
But, it must be said that between Shokugeki no Sanji’s publication and its eventual translation, things have changed quite a bit for the Food Wars! duo. Not only has their series concluded in Weekly Shonen Jump after an embarrassing delegation to Jump GIGA to round out the story in Le desert, but their legacy as a whole had already been tarnished by the frankly embarrassing developments in the Food Wars! narrative leading up to this.
Nevertheless, Shokugeki no Sanji shows that the two creators aren’t done quite yet. In fact, the one-shot harks back to the good old days of Food Wars!, where things were relatively simple.
Firstly, the stakes for this one-shot are kept comfortably low, as Sanji is simply out to impress an unimpressionable customer aboard the floating restaurant Baratie. There’s nothing here along the lines of the superpowered Les Cuisiniers Noirs or the New Curriculum that threatened the students of Totsuki Academy’s everyday life – just a simple situation that could easily occur in the culinary world.
This keeps Shokugeki no Sanji focused squarely on the art of cooking and the duo’s entertaining depiction of it, as Sanji stylishly prepares a massive lobster for the customer, who is promptly stripped naked by how delicious it tastes.
All of this harkens back to the early days of Food Wars!, when there was no need for ridiculous cooking superpowers or comically heightened stakes; only engagingly presented cooking duels or ‘Shokugeki. Many fans, including myself, ended up losing sight of this core appeal as the series pressed on into disappointing territory.
Shun Saeki and Yuto Tsukuda thus seemed to have reclaimed this core spirit of Food Wars! in this Shokugeki no Sanji one-shot, which proves that they can still write engaging and compelling culinary stories. Of course, they’re helped in that task by Eiichiro Oda’s original character Sanji (who is, it must be said, my favorite Straw Hat), but that doesn’t take away from what the duo brings to the table in terms of the original story and visual presentation.
Shokugeki no Sanji marks the second one-shot in recent memory penned by the Food Wars! duo, the other being this year’s Nisio Isin collaboration Jump Love Comedy Festival. This is also the second One Piece spinoff one-shot in recent memory, although Boichi’s one-shot this year is ostensibly part of another ‘Covers’ series.
Clearly, the duo isn’t about to quit the manga scene without a fight just yet. Between this one-shot and their recent globetrotting trip, they’re obviously gunning for another series sooner rather than later. And so, just as Shokugeki no Sanji ends with the beginning of Sanji’s introduction in One Piece (as in, literally just before), let’s hope that this one-shot also acts as the beginning of a bright new future for the creative duo.