Silver Spoon, or Gin no Saji, was and continues to be massively underrated by anime audiences. Many skipped it and subsequent seasons after it premiered because of the seemingly underwhelming plot--an city boy going to a farming high school. However, as a person who grew up on a farm surrounded by a farming community, I always got a strange little kick out of seeing city kids on a farm for the first time. Farming anime overall is an extremely under used plot and that is probably because there is little interest in it aside from the very small sect of anime fans from farms. At face value, Silver Spoon presented itself as a comedy anime but it ended up being smattered with poignant questions that rural communities occasionally have to face as well as actually giving some accurate educational information and a valuable lesson on the rewards of hard work.
Silver Spoon is an anime created by A-1 Pictures based off the original manga by Hiromu Arakawa, who was inspired by their own childhood growing up on a farm in Hokkaido. This review covers seasons one and two.
The plot follows Yugo Hachiken who, after caving under the pressure of his parent's expectations and the intellectual competition of city school life, enrolls in the prestigious agriculture school Oezo in rural Hokkaido. Though he has a talent for studying, Hachiken soon learns that not everything in farm life can be achieved by book smarts alone. This sets the stage for a whole slew of hilarious situations but also provides the outlet for some tough questions that not every person has to confront. Could you eat an animal that you raised from a cute babe? Do you have the heart to kill an animal after it is injured and is it right to do so?
Not many people know where their meat comes from or how it gets to their plate. They don't know that animals are bled alive because the blood would spoil the meat if they were dead. It is a hard, effective, but tasteful look at the livestock industry that eventually loses focus as Hachiken grows as a person. These serious arcs are broken up by more comedic situations surrounding Hachiken and his friends such as making pizza for people too rural to have it delivered (I know that feeling too well), trying to express his feelings to his oblivious love interest, and ridding himself of his overachieving-turned-slacker older brother Shingo making for a nice anime that doesn't take itself too seriously.
As Hachiken adjusts to the Oezo, he undertakes regular amounts of growth as a character, the first of which involves him adjusting from the atmosphere of the competitive city school life he was used to and integrating into the more laid back friendly atmosphere of a school full of farmers. As the main character, at first Hachiken feels a certain level of superiority over his classmates because, while they excel in the farming classes, they struggle in general education. Throughout the first two seasons of Silver Spoon, we slowly, but surely see him abandon that superior attitude and realize that each of his friends and classmates excel as people.
His friends, classmates and teachers are all a zany cast that provides for an infinite amount of entertainment. This is truly an anime in which no character is similar. Each character has a different motivation, with dreams of the future. This comes in stark contrast to the main character Hachiken who has no particular dream or goal in mind for the future. While each friend is different, only a select few have their back stories explained. Some characters seem like they would have a bigger role as the show went on but just sort of fade out save for small cameos now and then. Personally, as far as characters go, the teachers at Oezo shine the most. From the pig caretaker who looks and acts a bit like a Lara Croft to the Equestrian Club teacher that carries a Zen Buddha-esque air around him. Oh, and the teeny-tiny principal that uses his powers of extreme tininess to spy on students and give encouraging pep talks when they need it most.
What truly impressed me about all the characters was their comical, but honest presentation. In anime, the characters are usually presented to be occasionally emotionally flawed, but beautiful. This is not the case, where some characters are handsome, some of them are fat, have big noses, are shorter than others, or have other defects. This is an honest representation of people as a whole in anime. We are not all normal, yet strangely attractive. We have defects and I enjoyed that the creator had the forethought to show it.
The soundtrack of this particular anime was nothing to write home about. Nothing felt out of place and yet, nothing stood out to be memorable about the music throughout the show. While the music in the actual show is negligible, the opening and ending were absolutely magnificent. The first season opening to Silver Spoon is "Kiss You" by Miwa and it is by far one of my favorites. It seems rather strange and out of place for the first few episodes, however as viewers get to know the characters, it becomes near unbearably adorable. While the opening to season one seems out of place at first, the ending "Hello Especially" by Sukima Switch fit perfectly. It had that sort of country twang to it that really evoked the atmosphere of rural farm life.
The second season opening "Life" by Fujifabric is not quite as adorable, but it is no less enjoyable. I enjoyed the song over all and the visuals that paired pretty perfectly with it. Alas, Silver Spoon's season two ending song, "Oto no Naru HÅ e" by Goose House, had me missing "Hello Especially" the entire time. So much so, I usually skipped past it.
The below video is the season one OP song, the video is just some random screenshots as the copyright cops have really cracked down on anime intro and outro videos.
I've already said my peace about how much I enjoyed the character design. Over all, the artwork was smooth and impressive. However, because this is a slice of life anime, it is likely that no one will really care. The trained eye can see where A-1 Pictures tried to save on some money, there are quite a bit of dialogue scenes that required little in the way of movement. However, if this was necessary, then I applaud it because the movement scenes involved in the farming machinery and horse riding scenes was spot on and fluid. If they had to limit themselves on movement during the dialogue to stay on budget for those scenes, then I am glad they did. The animals feel realistic, albeit some of their movement was changed for additional cuteness and empathy from the audience.
I watched Silver Spoon seasons one and two back to back on a binge; in fact I blew off doing other things to watch it. After a point, I simply could not stop. It is one of those things that you just have to see what happens next. However, the ending of season two left a lot of questions unanswered. The anime set itself up for a season three, but also left things at a point where if season three didn't happen, the story was wrapped up sufficiently. Since Silver Spoon caught up to the original manga, its likely viewers won't see a season three anytime soon.
Anyway, there are a lot of themes presented in Silver Spoon that a lot of viewers can relate to, not just the viewers with farming experience. It breaks from the tired school life genre and makes the story interesting and hilarious. I highly recommend it to those who like school life/slice of life genres, but need something refreshing. It is also an entertaining view for those that enjoy comedy without it resorting to being all about the prevvy harem trope that dominates the comedy anime genre these days.