Chow Down Champs
Super Food Bowl
大食い甲子園 (Oogui Koushien)
Seinen – Sports
3 Volumes of 6 Volumes (complete)
Media Do (NIHONBUNGEISHA)
Fifteen years ago, Momotaro High School had a come-from-behind victory and took the crown in the national high school competitive eating championship. But after that achievement, the club has struggled to even make it past regionals and is on the verge of shutting down. But with the arrival of a new coach, perhaps Momo High can regain its former glory!
There really is a manga for every sport…
Note that this series is also partially released under the title Super Food Bowl.
That being said, Chow Down Champs is unique in another way. I don’t think I’ve ever read a sports manga with a full team that has a practice match, takes its first steps toward progress, then pretty much has to find a whole new team.
The manga opens with a flashback to Momo High’s competitive eating club’s glory days, and we then see the current team training as a man eats a restaurant. As he realizes his wallet was stolen, he darts out to try to find the pickpocket and is assumed to be doing the old dine-n-dash. The competitive eating club (which I’m abbreviating to CEC) tackles the man and later are surprised that Kutaro is their new coach. Kota, the captain, and the others are angered when Kutaro calls Kota unfit to be a competitive eater, but they are forced to recognize his knowledge and talent when he defeats Kota in a face-off.
So yeah, the manga is absurd. It’s almost like a parody of sports manga. I mean, schools paying to stuff students’ faces? A training regime? A national championship? Club songs?! Uh-huh. But it is different from most set-ups, as the captain is the weak link in the team. He’s not someone for the newbie protagonist to aspire to. In fact, Chow Down Champs actually stars the coach Kutaro rather than any of the club members.
The series is halfway over, and the CEC has only officially gotten back up to five members. They had one practice match with their rival Onigashima Tech High, and one of the members Kutaro scouted was having his own challenge with some members of Oni Tech. Considering this isn’t a traditional sport, there aren’t many ways to train or gain special techniques. The coach does give tips on when to eat faster and to pace, how to gradually increase stomach size, and other stuff like that. But the manga doesn’t go all fantasy-level with legendary chopstick use or other such nonsense.
I don’t know how many victories CEC needs in order to at least enter nationals, but it can’t be that many. The manga includes a bunch of text boxes explaining the rules of the Chow Down Championships and participating schools, and it says that 1-on-1 matches are the most common. So even if they only have two rounds of victories, that still could be up to 10 games. The manga has about 9 chapters a volume, so that’s in the realm of probability. The coach’s past has been revealed, but I’m sure the manga will have Momo High’s CEC come across his alma mater.
The fake out with the CEC is both good and bad. It does explain why the CEC looked too similar for my taste. Instead, they’re replaced with more interesting and visually different members, so that made me like Chow Down Champs more. Unfortunately, the manga also wastes time by introducing young men who are just on the way out the door. I think time would have been better spent if Kutaro and Kota just had to recruit members from the start. Otherwise, the art is similar to Tsuchiyama’s other manga with a burly, food-loving lead and lots of appealing food images. Unlike some of his other manga, this one concentrates on prepared dishes, so we don’t see dead fish getting sliced or other similar images. Otherwise, this isn’t the most visually exciting manga, as it’s just people scarfing down food.
Honorifics are occasionally used. Typos are fairly frequent, from missing spaces to missing letters.
Chow Down Champs is not your usual sports manga, for better or for worse. Don’t expect amazing techniques, but readers are also not stuck with some n00b prodigy as a lead. I just wish the manga had spent less time finding members and more time on matches.
Many of Tsuchiyama’s titles have been released through Media Do.
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