Review for Silver Spoon - Season 2
Silver Spoon’ is not only an unusual series in its premise, either for Japanese manga, anime or any other category or genre you care to put it in; it’s also highly entertaining in a relatively gentle, heart-warming, life-affirming kind of a way. It’s certainly worth a look. Needless to say, Season 2 is not the ideal place to start as Season 1 spends time setting up the premise as well as most the key characters featured in this series.
My review of Season 1 is here and much of what I wrote for that still stands for Series 2. Unsurprisingly, its premise and tone remains intact. Whilst the series can be described as ‘slice of life’ or some other genre pigeon-hole, the truth is that it remains utterly unique (as far as I am aware) as an agriculturally themed series. If that sounds odd, well, yes, I suppose it is. But if you think it sounds dull (as I would reading a simple descriptor) then you would be wrong. Very wrong. The series is a gently paced page-turner, almost against all the odds, and whilst I still have some reservations about the meat-rearing aspects of the farming (I’m a vegetarian), it’s easy to forgive this as such concerns are dealt with sensitively. Indeed, Series 1 ended with our hero, Yugo Hachiken, literally consuming the meat from his beloved, hand-reared pig, showing how he was becoming hardened to the realities of food farming and the so-called ‘circle of life’. As I said, I don’t get it. But at least it was sensitively addressed rather than simply ignored.
It’s probably also worth mentioning that the production comes from the fine folk who brought you ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’ so you know you’re in for a quality series.
The 11 episode series kicks off after the first trimester break with the whole team back at Ezona Agricultural School and hard at their studies. Yugo Hachiken, the real focus of ‘Silver Spoon’, really finds himself at the heart of things now, becoming Vice-President of the Equestrian Club and also continuing to take the lead on many of the school festival activities, following the unmitigated success of his stone-baked pizza-making in Series 1.
He also finds himself mastering horse jumping (actually, lots of it), as well as puppy training and cheese-making. It’s all go.
Whilst this run of the mill activity propels the narrative, ‘Silver Spoon’ Series 2 really delves into the characters again, betraying the teenagers fears and aspirations as they look forward to a life in agriculture, with all its real-life challenges. Hachiken is as supportive as ever, though its clear that he has his own issues, not least with dealing with his family’s expectations that he might have chosen a more academic path.
The truth is that Yugo’s enthusiasm for horses is driven by his enthusiasm for a member of the opposite sex, Aki Mikage, who simply loves horses. The problem is, she also seems pretty keen on her neighbour from back home, Ichiro Komaba. This jealousy is hopelessly exacerbated when he discovers the two of them whispering together, clearly not wanting Yugo to hear. When all is revealed (and I won’t do that here), it’s not what he thought though is seismic from a plot perspective. Oh – and maybe now is the time to mention a brand new character; the comically stereotypical ‘horsey’ type, Ayame Minamikujo who is the epitome of upper class idiocy, replete with irritating nasal laugh. She’s fiercely competitive with Aki, who is a way better rider and her constant prat falls provide plenty of light relief and which is genuinely amusing in a somewhat predictable way.
Another recurring theme is Yugo’s apparent academic superiority, which was prevalent at the start of Series 1 but which got lost along the way. Here, despite his initial bungling at all things practical, Yugo is much in demand by students with lesser academic skills and we see him consistently helping them in areas of weakness, making sure that they all succeed, whatever the assignment. With the year’s final exams on their way, Yugo’s help is more appreciated by his friends than ever.
So all in all, Series 2 is kind of more of the same. But given that it was such a great series to start with, that’s no bad thing. Somewhat strangely, the series ends on a slightly depressing note, hammering home the harsh economic realities of modern day farming with Komaba’s family farm unable to pay its mounting debts, leaving his family pretty much destitute and debt ridden, now relying on him as the breadwinner, which means dropping out of college.
Picture quality is stunning (again) and the Japanese only soundtrack (with English subs) is top notch too. If you hurry, you might still pick up one of the special-edition sets with art-cards, if that’s your thing.
With no sign of a third season, this may be your final dose of ‘Silver Spoon’ so I suggest you relish every second of it. It’s a bit special, if a teeny-weeny bit unusual. Of course, there’s always the manga which continues unabated and in 2014, a live-action feature film. I’ve posted the trailer for that here for your convenience. No. Really. Don’t thank me.