Gin no Saji
Slice of life, comedy, school
Number of Episodes
A manga written by Hiromu Arakawa
Yugo Hachiken’s recipe for running away: one part intense school pressure, two parts overbearing father, and three parts complete failure. His only requirement for high school was somewhere far away with dorms so he wouldn’t have to go home. An agricultural school in the country sounded perfect. Except for waking up at 4am and the fact that the livestock were higher on the pecking order than himself!
The Theme in One Sentence
Respect where your food comes from and the effort involved to prepare it.
Silver Spoon starts off in the best possible way, with Hachiken knowing absolutely nothing about agriculture or farm animals. That makes it easy to relate to him if you don’t know anything about those topics either. It also creates the perfect opportunity to have common things explained, which made me feel like I was constantly learning something. In fact, Silver Spoon had me interested in the learning material every step of the way since it was often shown through how Hachiken felt. That’s pretty unique for a school anime since they usually skip over most of the actual education.
The educational sections are realistic, but that realism is hard to stomach sometimes. For example, a lot of people eat meat daily, but could you eat the meat of an animal you raised? What if the meat was from a cute little piglet, the runt of the litter even, that you vowed to help grow up big; could you eat that pork then? I definitely couldn’t.
Silver Spoon continually brings up moral topics like that through the main character’s thoughts and feelings. Hachiken constantly strives to figure out what he should do in situations and how he should be acting. He even serves as a foil to the other characters who grew up in a farming life so have become a bit desensitized to the situation. For example, they warn him not to name the piglet since he’ll get too attached, but he does it anyway. The show always makes it clear that the other characters care a great deal about their animals, but sometimes that caring has to have more rationalism than Hachiken is used to. Like when an animal gets hurt, they might need to be sold for meat even if that’s a horribly sad decision to make.
Silver Spoon isn’t just an anime about animals getting turned into food, I promise. It’s also a pretty great comedy. It’s rare to see a show mix grim realism with humor as well as this one does. The humor is often a necessary palate cleanser from the moral discussions, but it’s never used to make less of the situation. It focuses on the fact that Hachiken is a city boy completely unused to country life, let alone the hard life of a farmer. Like when he realizes what part of the chicken eggs come from and can’t bring himself to eat them for a while, but then gives in and remembers how fantastic they taste.
There’s a nice potential romance between Hachiken and another classmate. It’s never the full focus of the show, which is nice, but it’s definitely there and is part of Hachiken’s growth. There’s also the awesomeness of having a fully self sufficient school that grows all of its own food, raises its own animals, and seems to basically be able to provide whatever the students need. This fact was really driven home when Hachiken agrees to make pizza for everyone since they’ve never had any. All of the ingredients could be grown and made by people at the school. Once again, the food in Silver Spoon looks delicious, I mean look at that melty cheese…
I don’t know much about farming, but I think the life of a farmer is very well portrayed in this anime. It shows both the good side, like getting to eat freshly picked corn that’s amazingly sweet, and also the harsh side of debt. Large debts aren’t something a high school student can fix, so that’s another dilemma Hachiken has to face. How do you help a friend when you can’t actually do anything to help? He finds his own way of helping, like he always does, and it reinforces that his kindness is the foundation of his character.
Main Character – Yugo Hachiken
Hachiken is a great main character and easy to relate to. He’s genuinely funny and often overreacts to things that seem commonplace to the other students. Actually, I think I liked him because he acted exactly how I’d probably act in those situations.
He doesn’t have the same instincts as somebody who grew up on a farm so he does silly things like chasing a baby calf instead of using food to lure it. He also got grossed out a lot of the time, like when cows were giving birth, while the other characters saw it as the beauty of life.
Honestly, he has so much character growth that by the end, he’s almost unrecognizable from the guy in episode 1. He’s a kind and thoughtful character, who sometimes tries a little too hard, but everyone is drawn to him even more for it.
Favorite Secondary Character – Mayumi Yoshino
Yoshino isn’t the most prominent secondary character, which means she sadly doesn’t have as much character development as the others. She’s sometimes drawn into Hachiken’s way of thinking, like about eating an animal you care about, so it’s a nice contrast to the other agricultural students.
Her love for cheese brings a familiarity to the show since I’m from Wisconsin and well, cheese is amazing. Getting to see how cheese is made from her storylines was really interesting too. It also showed somebody more focused on making food than on raising animals like most of the dairy farming students were.
Least Favorite Character – Ayame Minamikujo
Ayame thankfully is only in a few episodes of Silver Spoon, but they’re enough to make her my least favorite character. She has that rich-anime-girl laugh that I can’t get past, especially since it happens over and over in a short amount of time. If you haven’t heard the laugh I mean, it goes ohhhhhhhh-ha-ha-ha oooooooohhhhhhh-ha-ha-ha.
She also gets zero character development. I’m not really certain what role she even plays besides laughing and showing off. The main female in the show seems to like her, but the anime doesn’t give any reference as to why so it’s hard to believe their friendship. One sided rivalry would be a better description, but even that doesn’t feel true. It would have been a more solid show without Ayame.
For the most part, the art was incredibly realistic and looked really nice. The occasional cartoony element would be there, like the main horse’s purple eyebrows or the almost caricature style principal, but even that fit in really well. Just like the mix of realism and humor in the plot, the art had a well balanced mix of realism and humor as well. Every character was distinct though, which was great. The animals are also extremely cute, except maybe the horse Hachiken learns to ride.
There isn’t any fan service in Silver Spoon. Well, unless you count some guys who really like to make cows look their best and have an awkward way of talking about them…
After the Credits
For the most part, there are no scenes after the credits, but the two episodes that do have them are important. They’re after episode 11 and 20.
There sadly is no English dub for Silver Spoon.
Ending – No Spoilers Don’t Worry
The ending felt abrupt. It wasn’t rushed or anything, just sudden. I didn’t even realize it was over for good until I saw the phrase “The End” and realized there wasn’t another season. It’s sad since it felt like a good new story line was about to start.
The Bottom Line
Silver Spoon is a fantastic anime with a perfect blend of realism and humor. The characters drive the story and even make learning fun. The only way to make it better would be to have a third season that finished some of the plotlines.
Possible Reasons Not to Watch
Silver Spoon aims for realism which means you often get a much more gruesome image of farm life than you might like. For example, the butchering of animals is definitely something not for young kids or even squeamish adults. The blood is sometimes censored, but it’s not always. You also have to see the realism of cute animals being killed. Often.
You also might not want to watch this if you’re a fan of every character getting a happy ending. There are definitely a few sad endings that you’ll wish could have ended differently, but for it to stay realistic they can’t.
If you really hate anything to do with agriculture or farm animals, then this show isn’t for you. It’s worth watching even if you’re not super interested in the subject though, since the show makes it interesting.
Barakamon – This is another anime where the main character is suddenly in a very different life style than they were used to. It doesn’t have to do with agriculture, but the humor feels similar to me.
Food Wars – This is another school anime, but it’s focused on cooking instead of growing food and raising animals. It’s also full of fan service, so not family friendly like Silver Spoon.
In Reference to the Manga
Sadly, I haven’t read this manga since it’s really hard to find in English. I think only the first four have even been translated officially, which is a huge shame. I’ve read that it sold well so I’m not sure why it hasn’t been licensed here. Hopefully it will one day.
Where Does the Anime Leave Off?
From some research, it seems like the first season leaves off in the fourth manga. I think the second season leaves off somewhere in the 8th or 9th manga.
Biggest Differences Between the Anime and Manga
Since I haven’t gotten to read this one I’m not positive. From some forums, it seems like there were things cut out and a few of the stories might be a little different, but that nothing extreme was changed. It does have more of the story after the end of the anime though that I’d love to read so I can know how it ends.