If you’d have asked me what sort of series Hiromu Arakawa would make after her shonen epic Full Metal Alchemist I think I’d be forgiven for not thinking immediately of ‘farming manga’. But that is exactly what Arakawa has done. In what is essentially the furthest thing from what brought her to the game, Arakawa has went all in on the farming concept with Silver Spoon, one of the most delightful slice of life series in recent memory.
Silver Spoon follows Hachiken a city boy who one day decides to enrol in an agriculture school out in the boonies named Ezono. Many of the students at the school have been born into the farming business and Hachiken’s decision to join this school was rather simple, it had its own dormitory and it would get him out of the city. Why he wanted to do just that serves as a driving mystery for the series as we see Hachiken struggle to adapt to the farming life.
What follows is one of the anime equivalent of easy listening music. This series is so very tranquil and relaxing that it makes for some rather easy viewing. The serene nature of the farming life is captured to perfection with a down to earth style that is free of all of the technological vices that are so heavily present in nearly all modern anime.
The cast of characters on show here in Silver Spoon definitely showcase the pedigree that comes with the name of Hiromu Arakawa, each character is lovingly written with fine detail distinguishing each as true individuals within the series. I found myself coming to feel these characters held real personality and heart within minutes of each introduction. Arakawa definitely has a sense for characterization and it is easy to become attached to this colourful cast.
Some of the themes tackled in the series really do hit close to home regardless of whether you have ever experienced farm life or not. The themes of isolation, belonging and self discovery are all on display here and explored through Hachiken our mysterious lead. Set apart from his old home, he has isolated himself from whatever lay in that past of his, he seeks to belong in this new home all the while struggling to discover who he really is and who he wants to be.
What really stands out about Silver Spoon is just how pleasant the series is. There isn’t any real unpleasant moments, in fact the show is really lightweight and soothing. This isn’t a heavy watch, it is about as chill as anime gets and while it may tackle some pretty hefty topics it does so with a sense of countryside cheer that no other anime I’ve seen has been able to harness. There is something really special about Silver Spoon and this is only the half of it.
Aesthetically the series captures rural life with gorgeous detail. The countryside is affectionately depicted in vibrant colours and a sense of stillness intertwined with a endless dance of motion. It is quite a tough mix to strike but Silver Spoon manages to make it happen to great effect. Furthermore the series features an incredible soundtrack that personifies the sound of the country to perfection. Also the opening and ending themes are deadset classics.
Unfortunately Madman Entertainment’s release of Silver Spoon is decidedly bare-bones. The release is DVD only and doesn’t feature an English language dub of any sort. As for special features there is just the standard trailers and clean opening and ending themes, making for a rather simple release that doesn’t exactly give any extra bang for your buck.
Silver Spoon is one of the most soothing viewing experiences you’ll have in anime. Not many anime can stake claim to being soothing but Silver Spoon really is just that. Riding on the gentle winds of the wistful countryside, Silver Spoon is markedly different from every other anime series in recent memory. It is a relaxing, heartwarming, revelation of an anime series, one that you’d never have expected to come from the same mind that brought us Full Metal Alchemist. But really that sums up Silver Spoon perfectly, sometimes the unexpected winds up being exactly what you need.
You can head out to the countryside with Silver Spoon over at Madman’s Online Store.