Silver Spoon is a special show for many reasons, from its wonderful and realistic handling of agriculture as a profession to its fantastic characters and their natural development over the course of the series. But what really sticks the show out to me and makes it so refreshing is how it handles the ‘fish out of water’ trope and makes its lead character so interesting and engaging using this fact.
Yugo Hachiken wants to get away from it all, after failing to pass the entrance exam for the high school he planned to attend, he decides to move far away from his suburban lifestyle and enrolls at Ooezo Agricultural High School. No longer under the eye of his strict father whose constant pressure for him to succeed left him with no personal life and the constant need to study, he feels enrolling at an agricultural school will help lower the pressure and workload. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t.
Hachiken finds reality slapping him in the face as he realises that the farming portion of the school’s curriculum is far harder than expected. He has to wake up extremely early in the morning, collect freshly hatched eggs from chickens who he thinks poops them out and much to his chagrin, raise a group of pigs to be big and plump so they can be eventually be killed and made into food. Something he fails to cope with when he gets particularly attached to the runt of the litter, whom he aptly names ‘Pork Bowl’.
Thankfully it’s smooth sailing most of the time in Silver Spoon thanks to how Hachiken adapts to his situation and how his teachers, classmates and new friends treat him. Hachiken’s upbringing has made him an intelligent and ultimately dependable person for everyone around him, especially in how hard working he is. As a result, he takes the new developments of his school life in his stride and while he may be frequently questioning some aspects of farming or being squeamish when something he’d consider ‘inhumane’ comes up, he still gets the job done.
Though this sometimes comes at the cost of his own health and wellbeing, often being more concerned about the tasks he’s been given and constantly coming to regret any mistakes he’s made no matter how others may treat it. When he goes to work with Aki’s family on their farm for summer vacation, he keeps looking back on some of the mistakes he’s made as if he’s done the absolute worst. For instance, when he gets lost trying to find phone reception near Komaba’s house to send his mum a message, he’s concerned that he’ll be chewed out for missing work. By the time Aki and her family reunite with him, they’re way more concerned about him than anything to do with the jobs he’s accidentally skipped. Truly showing his character and unhealthy mindset, that his new life helps to change for the better.
What also helps him change his mindset and feelings is the people around him. Both teachers and classmates never bully or look down on Hachiken for not coming from a farming or country background, in fact everyone’s incredibly nice to him and try their best to know and understand him, including the principal himself. As well, no one opposes or antagonises Hachiken for some silly reason and the conflicts that arise between him and his friends/classmates are either quickly and swiftly resolved thanks to some misunderstanding (as classmate Tokiwa constantly causes by jumping to conclusions) or takes time to be resolved because of personal or ideological differences where both sides come to understand and accept each other.
In relation to this, the romance aspect of Silver Spoon is incredibly well handled even if it doesn’t really develop massively or go anywhere. Hachiken’s crush on Aki is never really acted upon but he never lets it escalate either. He treats her as well as any other friend of his and is never a pervert or ridiculously rude. Hell, his assumptions about her and fellow classmate/friend Komaba’s relationship being possibly romantic (since the two were childhood friends and neighbours) gets thrown out the window quickly and most of the drama between the three of them is based off completely different factors.
All in all, Silver Spoon does exactly what it intends to do perfectly while subverting or downright averting a lot of the pitfalls associated with its genre and characters. Hachiken is a fantastic protagonist who adapts to his situation naturally without pushing things too far and the people and world around him never put him down for anything he does. That in itself is why Silver Spoon is so good and why it’s one of my favourite anime of all time. It’s a show I highly recommend any of you to go watch.