Silver Spoon is pretty popular in Japan (it was the 8th best-selling manga of 2013), but it is not as well known in the States.
This is not entirely surprising; the series is what is often called "very Japanese". This means that a lot of its' appeal relies on the reader having prior knowledge of Japanese culture; something a lot of Americans don't have.
However, you would think it would be helped by the star power behind it: it was created by Arakawa Hiromu; the mangaka behind Full Metal Alchemist. FMA was extremely popular in America during its' run, and it still has a massive fanbase. This may be because of the fact that a lot of American anime/manga fans are more devoted to a particular series, than they are to a mangaka/anime creator. This means that the names following "Story and Art by..." and "Based on the manga by..." are just some Japanese names, to an American.
With all that out of the way, let's actually dive into the series.
Silver Spoon by Arakawa Hiromu is the story of Yugo Hachiken-a recent middle school graduate-and his experiences at the abnormal Oezo Agricultural High School.
Hachiken has spent his whole life doing an unhealthy amount of studying, and has not made time to gain social skills, or meaningful relationships. When he graduates from middle school, he finally snaps from the pressure, and chooses the school farthest away from his home (the reason for this is a spoiler): Yezo Agricultural School.
When he begins attending Yezo High, Hachiken realizes that he may have gotten into more than he can handle: because it is a farming related school, all students must get up horrendously early (usually 4 A.M.) to do chores.
The other students-most of whom are from surrounding farms-are used to this rigorous routine, but the never-even-touched-a-cow city boy Hachiken has a hard time adjusting.
Even though adapting to farm life has been difficult for Hachiken, he makes friends, who help him get through it. These friends include Hachikens' first crush and brilliant jockey, Aki Mikage, the perpetually stern, baseball loving Komaba, finance-obsessed Tamako, and the simple minded comic relief, Tokiwa.
The first complication with the series becomes apparent in the first few chapters: the manga is actually trying to teach the reader about farming. The reason why Arakawa goes so in-depth, when expositing on farming details is the same reason for his inspiration for the series: she was raised on a dairy farm.
The huge amount of highly technical information about the nuances of farming can be a major turn off for a lot readers. Some chapters are filled with enormous, dense speech baloons that go into so much detail, that the series could be used as an agriculture textbook.
You really do need to be able to enjoy, or at least appreciate the farming exposition, because in Silver Spoon, there is no way around it; it is a main focus of the story. However, if you do find yourself liking the information, the rest of the series is great. Silver Spoon is feeled with relatable and fun characters, hilarious jokes, touching and impactful story arcs, and can even be educational.
It has an anime, too, for anyone who prefers that. If what I said sounds enticing, check out Silver Spoon for yourself.
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