As I watched the final episode of Silver Spoon, a single word came to mind to describe this anime. "Thoughtful." But also thought-provoking.
Brief Summary: A "smart kid" who has trouble fitting in at his traditional middle school is encouraged by a teacher to apply to an agricultural high school. Once there, he learns a lot about how food is produced, as well as learning how to make friends.
Themes: Making friends, business realities, the difficulties of being in the agricultural industry, how food is made, the value of hard work, the value of struggling with large moral issues (for example, should humans eat animals?), and struggling with goals/being unmotivated/not knowing if you have a life goal/parental expectations for your life.
Story: I like the story a lot. It's simple, yet sincere, and allows for a lot of interesting ideas and issues to come to the surface.
Animation & Sound: While I thought the sound, voice-acting, and theme songs were perfect for the show, the animation was nothing to write home about. It wasn't bad, but not stellar either.
Characters: Great! A shining part of the show, each character has a unique outlook on life, a goal, and a problem that frustrates her/him. This makes them easy to relate to, and it drives the plot by creating interesting interactions.
Conclusion: Good stuff: 8.8/10
Arakawa-sensei (also the mangaka for Fullmetal Alchemist) grew up on a dairy farm and that experience is definitely evident in Silver Spoon. I really enjoyed Silver Spoon. It's a totally different type of story, and it is refreshing, entertaining, thoughtful, sincere, thought-provoking, and well written.
Anime Name - Gin no Saji
Aired - Jul 12, 2013 to Sep 20, 2013
Episodes - 11
Produced By - A-1 Pictures
Staff - Tomohiko Itou (Director), Hiromu Arakawa (Original Creator), Jun Nakai
(Character Design), Shusei Murai (Music Score)
Ah, one of the most hyped anime of the season. Why? Not only is it adapted from a commercially successful, award winning & critically acclaimed manga but also it is written by the famous mangaka Hiromu Arakawa who is responsible for the world famous FMA. So how was the anime? Does it live up to the hype? And how can a manga based on life on agricultural school be this famous? And most of all how come a mangaka who wrote such an action based title as FMA write this? Let me just say that whatever else this anime does it proves (or tries to actually) that you can be a person who doesn't have a clear goal in life or any vague idea what you are gonna do with your life even if are surrounded by ambitious people and it is not always bad; and most of all it proves that book-worm nerds can be cool even when they are acting all moronic & stuff.
The story of this anime centers around Yugo Hachiken whose dream in life is quite simple (although it seemed a bit weird at the first few episodes). It is to be separated from his family, so he enrolls in an agricultural boarding school which would take him quite far from his house till he gets his own job. As he deems himself to be an excellent crammer, he believes he will have no problem in there. But it turns out the life there is not what he expected as he gets in the world where physical labor is more important than his brains & the cruelty of the harsh reality of the life of the livestock. He eventually finds friends among his classmates who are all farmers' heirs & not a total city boy like him. And thus the story of his new life goes on with everyday learning of the lifestyle of farmers as well as their farm animals, which quite often arises very funny situation, and thankfully the comedy almost never felt forced.
Although it may seem very unusual for the premise of an anime, even for a slice-of-life but all the plot elements are gelled together quite nicely by the writer & the episodic nature of the story (at the first half mainly) really goes well with the premise of the show. Although at first the reason of Hachiken wanting to leave his home that desperately was a bit hard to understand, in later episodes it is explained quite clearly. As the various animals in the school grows through the passing of the time in his school so does his understanding (as well as ours) of farm-life grows, and he has to face some facts of reality which is harsh but true. The show mainly focuses on how he overcomes them and even helps his friends in their needs.
The story certainly gets props for originality and although at times a bit boring with the knowledge bits but definitely was enjoyable for me, so it gets 8.5 out of 10.
Although many might disagree with me on this but there is actually only one main character in this anime, rest are just side characters. Hachiken is a character who is like the anime, a bit slow to develop, it takes a viewers a bit of time ( a few episodes at least) to relate with him & to understand his motivations, to appreciate his viewpoints. At first you might find him a bit one-dimensional as someone who takes the easy way out,who runs away from his family but if you carry on with him on his journey you will find out his reasons, will find out how he actually is quite caring for his friends through his actions & tries to help in them in their problems while sometimes even completely ignoring his own ones. And in the end he is a likeable character as well as quite unique too.
As for the other characters they are very likeable too. Mikage who is the love interest for our protagonist seems a bit bland at first but Hiromu later develops her quite brilliantly in her unique way. The other important characters include hardworking & ambitious Komaba (somewhat generic for the source of Hachiken's jealousy but has a well written back-story); whimsical & laughably dumb at math Tokiwa; money lover & aggressive eater frightening Tamako; afraid of blood yet vet wanna be Shinnosuke ( whose struggles to face his fears is portrayed quite nicely); Hachiken's irritable yet funny brother (who is following his dream by the way) Shingo among others.
The characters are actually the strongest aspect of this anime & pulls through all the rest of the stuff to a very enjoyable height indeed.
So I give it 9 out of 10.
To be honest the character designs & the art is not at the same level of the rest of the stuff for this anime. The faces of the characters quite often seem too similar & there is a lack of general detail in them. All the food-stuff at least looked good. The animation also seems bland in this day of top-notch technology and somewhat awkward in occasions. But at least on the positive side there is a sense of consistency in animation of the show as a whole, unlike few other animes these days & the piglets were cute.
However, it is not as per with other things of the anime & gets 7 out of 10.
The opening theme is "Kiss You" by Miwa which is a nice song and appropriate for the show but actually not that special. The ending theme is "Hello Especially" by Sukima Switch which is the perfect ending song for the show for me, it has kind of a country vibe going for it which is suitable for the atmosphere of the show. Other pieces used during the show are all alright but nothing really stands out as anything special.
As a whole sound gets from me 8 out 10.
There is a lot of argument going on the internet whether this is the best show of this season or not, and with a second season now confirmed it is even more fueled. All I can say on these regard is while this anime may not be for everyone (Slice-of-life rarely is), still it is definitely one of the shows to watch for this season; this is kind of a casual & thinking mans show. The funny bits & the thought-provoking realistic situations the characters are put into often are really the highlights and was enough enjoyable for me so that I for one will pick up the second season, I might even try out the fan translated manga too.
Overall Score -
8.5 out of 10.
A slice of life series about a kid moving from the big city to an agricultural school. You heard me right. There is nothing else to it. So, what begs to be asked is "how is Silver Spoon so good?!" over and over. It is no mystery. Solid writing that is aimed at all ages, well executed art, and a ton of charm led by a strong audio department. It doesn't try to be too subtle, a mistake common to the slice of life genre, but remains a nice combination of goofy and light hearted fun.
What makes Silver Spoon so good is that it retains just the right amount of focus. It is a character driven show, with a solid premise. While not delving too deeply into the philosophical aspects (while there is some, like in every character driven show), it maintains simple resolutions for simple dillemas without dumbing things down. There is a general sense of positivity pervading everything, with an honesty that usually comes off as naive but somehow manages to come off as just right.
Of course, Silver Spoon isn't all about philosophy and character development. There is plenty of humor, usually visual, that comes off as everything from silly to clever. Themes of friendship and even hints of romance manage to be adorable without taking too much of the focus away from the slice of life aspect. The intricate balance of all these aspects just works, and ends up feeling quite memorable and not just another run-of-the-mill school life / slice of life combination in a different setting.
But is Silver Spoon enjoyable? Oh yes it is. Considering that it is focused on agriculture of all things, it is more enjoyable than it should be. This is light viewing done right, starting off with an episodic structure and as the main character connects with the others becoming more and more coherent but without losing its feel. Really, it is surprisingly well done.
Writing (Story and Characters):
Silver Spoon is well written, and that should be stated right off the bat. Slice of life is usually praised when it tries to be deep and clever, but this is one of the cases where it isn't, doesn't try to be, but still deserves a lot of good words. It is on the goofy side at times, resorting to slapstick and poop jokes to lighten the mood, but manages to give a strong vibe of its own. This is one of those cases where going outside the mold just works.
That being said, the story of Silver Spoon in itself is rather generic. In US media it has been done to death (though usually more "cowboy" themed), and makes a lot of appearences in Chinese movies (usually as a side-story to other themes), but this is a uniquely Japanese take on it. Surprisingly enough, the choice is to be somewhat more character driven rather than the more world driven slice of life shows. It works, and simplifies things a lot.
The protagonist is deeply in the center of the show, and does a good job steering the viewer as we learn along with him the nooks and cranies of the show's world. The clear division between main and side characters allows the plot a wide berth, and manages to touch lightly on many aspects rather than delve deeply into few. This is afforded by a well balanced cast, which gets slowly developed (though sometimes in the most silly of ways). Of course, the only character who really shines is the main one, but others get their moments in the sun, keeping the feeling fresh.
This is a classic way of storytelling in fiction that a lot of shows forgo in favor of a more modern wide-cast or narrative based approach, but sometimes it just holds up. Silver Spoon has a good "return to the basics" type of writing to it, which matches the theme of the show very well (both from execution and aesthetic standpoints). What makes the writing shine is that it doesn't feel forced, in order to make the the show a product, but feels organic and earnest.
Art (Animation and Sound):
Where the writing is good, the artwork is rather decent. The use of visual gags and themes is rather heavy, but not over the top, and is combined with well executed audio to make it feel like a part of the show rather than something tacked on. The audio/video brings life to the writing, but doesn't really manage to kick it up a notch.
Perhaps the weakest point of the series is the animation. This isn't so much a dig at the animation which is actually good. There are plenty of moments where the animation is reduced to a nearly still picture or scrolling through one, and while it is a nice visual tool it is somewhat overused. Still, the backgrounds are solid yet varried, and the character designs while standard are well done. There are plenty of visual gags that are usually well done and fit well with everything else. The lighting and palettes are fashionable and rather well executed. Overall, it's a rather solid showing.
Audio-wise Silver Spoon manages to be solid. The voice acting is good but not spectacular, the soundtrack is surprisingly well done and a good fit, especially the ending theme and the more light hearted pieces. The sound effects make the visual gags work, and are cleverly used. What really makes the slice of life work is the use of sound as ambient noise (chirping, buzzing, and the such). The audio department gives an exceptional execution of what it needs to do, though not quite at the top tier as it doesn't have much of a wow factor.
Silver Spoon's artwork makes the world interesting and convincing, but not spectacular. For a mundane show, it is obviously the right path, though perhaps could have been sharper. But then again, it does well enough, especially on the audio front.
Silver Spoon is a surprisingly well rounded show that other than lack of action has more or less everything. Anyone looking for a light hearted slice of life show should have a good time watching this show.
Story? What story?
Joking aside, Silver Spoon is an episodic slice of life show that focuses on a city-dweller Hachiken's adaption to life in an agricultural boarding school in rural Japan. Each episode contains a light brushing of plot as Hachiken slowly adapts and learns, but you are never going to find anything that is going to make you come close to approaching the edge of the seat.
The setting gets mixed scores from me; a major plus for taking things in to the farm setting and a major minus for continuing the same school formula we have seen over and over again in anime. Much to my surprise, Silver Spoon really embraced the farming side of its setting, and in some instances pushing the school part to the background. This anime offers an interesting insight to agricultural that is so often easy to forget in our own lives.
Hachiken provides a fresh perspective for all of his farming classmates as he struggles over raising animals just to be killed an eaten. He questions his own future as compared to his classmates who all seem to have their futures laid out in front of them with taking on their family's farms. This is where the show can try and overplay its themes a bit much. A better show would be more subtle and let the viewer question on their own, but Silver Spoon seems to be screaming these ideas at the top of its lungs. It isn't that they aren't interesting questions in their own right, but when presented in this manner they seem to lose a lot of their impact and effect.
There really isn't much to say about SP's animation. It's decent but ultimately forgettable. When you start to look at critically it starts to fall apart, lots of scenes with little to no animation other than panning the camera, characters are well drawn but generic, and the color palette is all over the place. But I don't think any of these things really matter with what Silver Spoon is trying to do. Could the show maybe have been bumped up a point if it was way more visually interesting? Probably, but at the same time I think it is fine the way it is.
I feel that I have a harder time commenting on Japanese voice acting since I watch the show subtitled in English and I am obviously going to miss a lot of the little details. That said, the voice work certainly felt on point. Voices match character designs and personalities and not once was there a point that stuck out as odd. Same can be said about the sound effects, which aided on creating a nice ambience and made the setting feel more alive.
The music work on the other hand felt uninspired and bland. It does gets some props for not being synthetic though. Too often in modern anime we have to settle for fake instruments and SP goes the extra mile here by recording some real musicians. Sometimes the tracks can feel a bit cheesy, but for the most part the music will just live in the background and you will forget about it the second you stop watching the show.
When watching Silver Spoon it became blatantly obvious that there is only one character that really matters. As he is the only character I have mentioned so far in this review, it should be pretty easy to pick him out. Hachiken is the only person that receives any amount of character development over the course of the show and everyone else is there solely for the purpose of achieving that development. While Hachiken is by no means any overly interesting character, he is very relatable for what I would assume is a large amount of the audience. I empathized with his struggles and questioned along with him. I wish that the interest lived in the rest of the cast, but unfortunately it is filled overwhelming with dull one-note characters. If you don't find yourself enjoy the main character at all, then you should probably pass on SP altogether.
Watching Silver Spoon is like eating a comfort food. You know the flavo, there isn't anything surpsing or new about it. It's not exotic and it certainly isn't going to be served in any upscale restaurants. But that doesn't stop from tasting good.
I came in to Silver Spoon with pretty low expectations but left pleasantly surprise. The atmosphere and setting seem to hit all the right spots for me and managed to counteract so much of the blandness that is holding the show back. As someone who grew up in a more rural environment, it made me yearn for the warm days of summer spent outside in nature. SP is just a great feel good show, and while it didn't challenge me in any way, I will certainly be coming back to watch the second season.
I saw the anime's english name (Silver Spoon) and thought this might be an interesting anime to watch. It's a slice of life anime in my opinion.
If you get a summary of this anime, it's just a high-schooler who goes to a school where the main subject is farmwork. There is no magic or anything that can bring a twist to this story. It's just a simple farm school.
That being said, even though it sounds a bit on the boring side, this might be one of my favorite animes, it brings excitment, humor, and many other things to the plot, it even made me cry about a pig.
This anime shows a realistic way how life works for people who live in the farm area and the troubles they go through to try and make a honest living, which some might fail at doing so.
This anime, in my opinion, is worth watching. It has great plot, good animation, and some pretty memorable characters. I'll never forget Mikage-san, Hachiken-kun, Pork Bowl, or any of the other characters.