[From March Issue 2014]
Gin no Saji (Silver Spoon)
Set at an agricultural high school and portraying the development of high school boys, “Gin no Saji” (Silver Spoon) has been serialized in Shukan Shonen Sunday since 2011. Only ten volumes of this comic have been released, but it has already become a hot topic with sales totaling more than 13 million copies. The animated TV adaptation was broadcast from July to September 2013. The second season has been broadcast since January, 2014.
The story begins when the main character of the story HACHIKEN Yugo enters Ooezo Agricultural High School in Hokkaido. Hachiken attended a top-class junior high school in Sapporo City. However, after graduating, rather than going on to the associated high school, he chose to enroll at an agricultural high school in the middle of nowhere.
During junior high school, Hachiken did not participate in any club activities, but only thought of getting better grades on his tests. Having an older brother who achieved top grades, Hachiken was under a lot of pressure due to the expectations of his parents. However, his grades failed to improve and Hachiken was completely exhausted in both mind and body. Recognizing that Hachiken was in such a state, his junior high school teacher recommended that he enroll at a more easy going agricultural high school. Without any other motive in mind other than the desire to get away from his parents, Hachiken enrolled at an agricultural high school which had dormitories.
However, Hachiken is shocked to find out that most of his classmates have clear dreams for the future. He tries to preserve his identity by getting top scores on tests, but fails to achieve even that. Each student has an area of expertise; a classmate who cannot keep up in mathematics scores 100 in animal husbandry. Moreover, unlike Hachiken, whose goal was to get good grades, they excel at something in order to make their dreams for the future come true. Overall, Hachiken achieves top marks, but he is not satisfied with that at all.
He not only gets a shock from the tests. Having been raised by office workers, it is the first time he has come into contact with livestock. The adorable piglets kept in the school are destined to become pork several months later. Once they stop laying eggs, or cease to produce milk, the chickens and cows are slaughtered for their meat. Hachiken learns through experience the difference between pets and livestock.
The author ARAKAWA Hiromu is a comic writer known for other works, including “Hagane no Renkinjyutsushi” (Fullmetal Alchemist). Her family are dairy farmers and she graduated from an agricultural high school. This is why the descriptions of the classes and dormitory life are so lively and detailed. The work also mentions subjects, including biotechnology, that are taught at agricultural high schools at the same level as at a university.
The work is filled with comic elements unique to agricultural high schools, including a club to appreciate the beauty of Holstein cows, and a female student, Tamako who is particularly fussy about not letting anything go to waste. In addition, the work also brings up the realities of farming and the problems of agriculture. Readers can laugh while finding out about the various aspects of agriculture with Hachiken.