News of Food Wars! Season 4 has already started to make the rounds on the English-based internet after the continuation of the Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma anime was confirmed at Jump Festa 2018. The animation studio J.C. Staff even released a new Food Wars! trailer and key visual art showing off the next part of the story. But is this new anime really Food Wars! Season 3: Part 2?
Part of the confusion is due to the fact that the announcement was made shortly before Food Wars! Season 3 Episode 12 was released. Most fans were expecting the third season to be 24 episodes long. Instead, the anime is ending unexpectedly in December with Episode 12. So, when the announcement was made in Japan that the next season was going to be coming out in April of 2018, it was assumed by many that it must be the fourth season.
The other part of the confusion is due to how Japan defines TV seasons based on the natural seasons. Anime series are divided up into winter anime (January to March), spring anime (April to June), summer anime (July to September), and fall anime (October to December). Each three-month unit of broadcasting is called a “cour.” Any Japanese anime season that runs continuously for more than these 10 to 13 episode units is referred to as having multiple cours for a single season.
Unfortunately, international streaming sites will sometimes add to the confusion by labeling a double-cour season as being two distinct seasons. To this day, Netflix lists Little Witch Academia as having two seasons even though it was a double-cour anime that was broadcast over six consecutive months.
Technically, the situation with the new Food Wars! anime is what is called a split-cour anime season, which is when the second cour is broadcast after taking a break for a season or more. For example, the 2011 Fate/Zero anime started in the fall, took a break for the winter, and then resumed and finished in spring.
The new Food Wars! anime is also likely a split-cour because of the way the announcement was worded. The Food Wars! trailer labels the new season as Shokugeki no Soma: San no Sara (Third Plate) instead of Shi no Sara or No Yon no Sara(The Fourth Plate). In fact, the trailer’s full title translated into English is Food Wars! The Third Plate: Totsuki Express Arc.
The split cour has become a noticeable trend in the anime industry in recent years, and it’ll probably be confusing fans for years to come. In the end, whether you call it Food Wars! Season 4 or Shokugeki no Soma Season 3: Part 2, let’s be glad for all the good anime coming in 2018!