Anime Review: Silver Spoon

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Things seem to be going pretty well here.

Christmas occurred a few days ago and I had gotten a few DVDs that I wanted.

So far, I have covered two of them and two remain.

Considering that the last two DVDs sets were all part of the same show, which probably has no chance of coming back on, I thought that I would deal with it as if I had gotten it from iTunes.

Today, I will be reviewing that show, which is called Silver Spoon (season 1 and season 2).

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Yugo Hachiken is a pretty average city-dweller that has no dreams or expectations, because he was trying meet his parents' expectations of achieving greatest in academics.

However, when he fails to get into the high school he wanted and tells one of his teachers that he wants to leave his home, he enrolls in a school specializing in agricultural pursuits at the suggestion of a teacher.

Unfortunately for him, things there are vastly different from what he knows and he must adjust to his new environment, while finding what he really wants to do in life.

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I really enjoyed this showed.

While it seems like Hiromu Arakawa has decided to try writing a story that was very different from FMA, which is probably one of, if not her only, internal hits, I did not really feel bored with the show at all, despite the fact that it is in a genre that not many anime fans like.

Now, some of people reading this might be thinking that it is only because I enjoyed FMA, seeing as I do bring it up a few times when I am trying to show how things are done right, if not reminding me about certain things in FMA, but I can guarantee you guys that this not why I liked this show, though it was probably a reason why I decided to try it out on Crunchyroll before Aniplex of America released it on DVD.

Back when I got into anime and did not really understand how to create great stories, I watched shows like DBZ, Rurouni Kenshin, and few other titles that were all the rage back then.

However, as the years gone by, the only shows that really seem to stand out to me are ones in which the protagonists go in some way, such as Yu Yu Hakusho, Rurouni Kenshin, and FMA, or story that could actually make me feel for the characters and what they were going through, such as Clannad and Pandora Hearts, though there are other shows or manga that have intrigued in other ways, such as Liar Game and Yoshiki Tonogai's Doubt.

Unlike the Elric Brothers, who were motivated to do what they did because they wanted to get their bodies back, Yugo seems to be like many people out there that have lost sight of what they want in life because he is trying to meet the expectations of others, instead of himself.

In life, there are people who think that they know what you need or are tired of dealing with you because they think you are slacking off, even when they may have contributed to it in a way, or you might not be happy because it has been drilled into your head that you need to be doing certain things, liking living in a circle of dependency that gets labelled as self-reliance or being told by church leaders that there is something wrong with being introverted, and seeing Yugo Hachiken in this kind of situation suggested to me that he was going to experience growth of some kind, at least if Hiromu Arakawa was able to maintain the quality of writing that FMA has.

Fortunately, I was given what I was expecting, because even though Yugo has not yet found what it is that he wants to do, he went from somebody who looked down on his fellow students just because he got good grades in normal academic studies and, according to an exchange that occurs between Yugo and his mother, unable to speak up for himself to somebody that acknowledges that his peers are not as dumb as he thought and was able to lash out at his father.

Of course, he also learned the disadvantages of volunteering or offering to do things for others, since he seemed to always willingly take on new challenges.

Recently, a family member and I got into a bit of a disagreement because they were not happy about the amount of time that I give to other people, since they seem to be willing to do anything, but from what I have experienced, worrying about yourself is just as important as worrying about those close to you.

Many people out on the streets and in my life offered to help or something they had when they thought I needed something, but because of the way I travel on my own and that I know that people like me desire to do some things on our own, or think that we have to because those that we know are busy with their own life or are not in a good enough condition to help, as well as things that I have been involved with, I cannot be wasting energy frivolously nor do something that will not really help that individual, which is why I believe that it is our responsibility to get want we want or need, even if we have to ask for it, regardless of age, gender, and ailment.

During the course of this show, Yugo went from being onboard with everything to actually learning when to refuse requests.

After all, if we always do things that people ask us to do, people will never learn how to accomplish those feats on their own and we would overexert ourselves in every possible way, much like Yugo Hachiken ended up being tired in many episodes, as well as gaining the reputation of never saying no.

Of course, there are other ways to show somebody concern than just asking if something needs to be done, which one of my family members think I need to do more often.

With those I care about, I actually tell them that I am willing to help them if they need it, thereby allowing them to try and do things themselves before they ask for help, though nobody really took advantage of the offer.

I also liked how I learned something from this show.

While most of the generations before me grew up working on farms in some capacity, most of those of my generation and later lived a life of luxury where we only had to dole out cash to get what we need, thus not realizing how much work goes into getting the food we eat or where it came from.

For example, I knew that eggs we eat came from chickens, but I thought it was from approximately the same area where human babies come out from there mothers.

Here, the show shows the chicken eggs actually coming out of the butt of a chicken, which like Yugo Hachiken, kind of grossed me out, especially since one of the people that I can kind of trust confirmed that eggs do in fact come from the butt, though the opening is officially called a cloaca, just as the show states.

Understandably, Hachiken is bothered by this, and does not particularly want to eat anymore eggs, but then again, we partake of plenty of things that come from the most disgusting places or made of of things that we do not want to know about.

I also liked the funny scenes present that are too numerous to count, because I cannot think of any particular scene where I did not want to laugh for some reason, such as when Yugo Hachiken gets a dog who gets named after the position he holds in a club and becomes humiliated whenever it does something wrong.

It looks like Hiromu Arakawa has not lost her touch, because there were quite a few scenes in FMA that made me laugh, though most of them seem to include Major Alex Louis Armstrong and/or his sister, Major General Armstrong.

If it were not for how funny things were here, I probably would have no doubt dropped this title, because there can only be so much done in a slice-of-life anime to keep things interesting.

As a result, Arakawa deserves plenty of applause because she seem to be doing things right, especially considering how hard it can be to make something so boring seem interesting.

Another thing that I liked was that Yugo was not the only one who seemed to grow as the story progressed.

While not all of the characters seem to go through major growth, Aki Mikage, like Yugo Hachiken, seemed to have troubles going after what she wanted, though she already knew what her dream dream was.

For much of the show, she seems to being doing things so that she can take over the farm because her family wants her to do so, much like Yugo was obsessed with getting into good schools and getting good grade because that is what his parents wanted, though Mikage was more willing to take over out of love for her family, but over the course of the show, she finally gains the courage to tell her family that she does not want to take over the family business, thanks to the time she spent with Hachiken, who spurred her on.

This makes me wonder if other characters are going to grow throughout the course of the series, but, considering that there are some rumors that this show did not do well enough for a third season, I guess the only way to know for sure it is to read the manga.

It was also nice that not all of the characters were able to obtain their dreams.

Seeing as Hiromu Arakawa wanted things to be more realistic than her previous works, this kind of makes me happy to see somebody's failure to attain their dream.

In many works of fiction, evil is destroyed and everyone that is considered good seems to get what they wanted all along.

However, in real life, things happen, no matter whether we had a part to play in it or not, that make it impossible to get the things that we always wanted and we have to deal with it.

Here, a baseball player wanted to become pro so that they could support their family and keep their farm alive, but because his team lost an important game, that door closed and the family's farm went under.

Still, that does not mean that the baseball player cannot attain their dream of becoming a pro baseball player, because some people in our society do not get to experience their dream until much later in life.

The thing that I liked the most though was that there was practically no fan service whatsoever.

Now, from my own experience, Hiromu Arakawa does not rely too much on fan service in her works, but many of the well-known titles today, such as A Certain Magical Index, and other series seem to always show girls that are almost, if not, naked, panty shots, girls' clothes being blown off, or some thing else of that kind of variety.

Here, however, the most that we get that could even remotely be close to that is when Hachiken stumbles across people that seem to be looking at a porn mag, only to realize that it is just a bunch of pictures of cows.

Seriously, there is absolutely nothing that seems to be prevalent in anime these days, and the show is still interesting.

Seeing as I cannot think of too many titles that has little, if any, fan service that seem to be interesting, Hiromu Arakawa deserves some major respect, because this is kind of a difficult feat to accomplish when targeting an audience that is so used to seeing fan service, considering that this is being marketed to the Shonen demographic, according to what I can find online.

I certainly would not be too afraid to show this title to children because of that fact alone, though some parents will probably get the wrong idea about things if they hear something upon just walking in, like hearing the very things that made Hachiken think some upperclassmen were looking at porn magazines.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked.

The fact that this is a slice-of-life anime, yet it did not seem to be boring, and that I felt like both the characters and learned things, as well as the fact that this show does not seem to rely on fan service to hold the attention of the audience, makes this a pretty decent series.

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Although I did like the show, there are some issues.

First, even though the characters seem to grow over the course of the show's 2-season run, things seem like they have not been resolved.

Throughout much of the show, Yugo Hachiken never really figures out what he wants to do, and while it does not seem to hurt the series too much, as it does stop at a place where a third season could start up, I think that things would have been better in A-1 Pictures took the same route that Bones Studio did with the 2003 anime adaptation of FMA.

Unfortunately, creating an ending that was as satisfactory as what was found there, though Edward and Alphone Elric never really learned the things in the 2003 adaptation that they did in the manga and the more recent anime adaptation, is not that easy, so I cannot be too mad about this.

Still, it would have been better than being forced to read a manga that might not be officially released where I live.

I also kind of dislike how Aniplex of America handled this show's release.

In many of the titles I got from them, such as Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Sword Art Online, Aniplex put in both English and Romaji subtitles in at least the opening sequence, if not the ending as well, but here, there were absolutely none of that to be found out at all.

While this is not a particularly major problem, this is kind of different from what I got from them before, so it is disappointing, though not to the kind of extent that FUNimation disappointed me with its last few releases of Detective Conan.

The thing that kind of annoyed me the most though was that this series is only available subbed.

Now, I do not hate watching anime subtitled, especially since almost every simulcast I have followed and reviewed was subbed, but, as I somewhat mentioned in my review of Lupin III vs Detective Conan, I am not always in a good enough condition to watch things subtitled, and I really wish that this one was dubbed, especially considering that Aniplex released the first season DVD in July 2014 and the second season DVD in December 2014, which means that a year has now passed since both season were released.

Unfortunately, if I had to guess why, it is probably because this title did not sell well enough in any of the place Aniplex has official branches to warrant an English dub, but there are probably other reasons as to why this show is only available subbed.

Still, there are people who have problems of some kind with subtitles, like not being able to read fast enough, or the text may not contrast well enough for them, or be too small, and having a dub would have made this more appealing to such people.

For now though, I will just label this a minor annoyance, since the only people that would really be bothered by this are the ones who hate subtitles for whatever reason.

While there were things that were kind of disappointing or that annoyed me a bit, there was not really anything that particularly hurt this show too badly.

Considering that there was quite a bit to like and that the only things that seemed wrong did not hurt the series much, if at all, this was definitely worth watching.

I recommend that everyone give this a try, as there seem to be quite a bit to like, but those that enjoy learning things and seeing characters develop over time, and fans of slice-of-life anime will enjoy this more than other people.

What are your thoughts on Silver Spoon? Did you like it or hate it? Was there anything you liked or hated that went unmentioned? Feel free to comment.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.