At first glance, this looked to be one of those anime that I normally skip over. I mean, an anime about farming and agriculture? I watch a lot of different types of anime, but I might have to abstain in this case. However, I soon found out that it was based off the manga written by Hiromu Arakawa, the brilliant mind behind my favorite manga/anime of all time, Fullmetal Alchemist. Because of how much I loved Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and because of how much I respect and enjoy the work of the artist, I decided I should give it a go.
GENIUS: THAT FAMILIAR QUALITY OF ANIMATION IS BACK
One glance at the main character and it is readily apparent who designed this. While the settings are different, there are many similarities in the character designs between Silver Spoon and Fullmetal Alchemist. The more realistic squared chin instead of a super-pointy one. The eye designs, especially the female ones. The hairstyles are similar. Then there's the straight up blatant character design similarities:
I kept waiting for him to rip off his shirt and start flexing... and I'm almost upset that he didn't.
There's also Arakawa-san's trademark deformation of the quality in times of comedy. I know of a few people who didn't like this aspect of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, but I loved it. The idea that the animation dips into a more cartoony fashion during a joke feels perfect, and it returns in Silver Spoon. While it's not animated by the same company that did FMA:B (A-1 Pictures instead of BONES), it's very well animated. A-1 Pictures is the same company that brought us and , so I think it's in good hands.
GENIUS: THAT FAMILIAR SENSE OF HUMOR IS BACK
As I said above, I know a few people who didn't really like the comedy of FMA:B, but I thoroughly enjoy it. I don't know why, but Hiromu Arakawa's humor just get to me. I found myself laughing out loud several times during the first episode, which is a good sign. One part in particular (I might be labeled immature because of this) had me going all throughout the episode.
At times, context is key...
Main-character-kun, Yugo Hachiken, doesn't know the first thing about agriculture or animals, so he turns to his classmate, Keiji Tokiwa,when a question arises about chickens. Tokiwa informs him that eggs come out of a chickens anus, then goes on to inform him about a chicken's reproductive organs and how the whole thing works. Of course, Hachiken is not paying attention; he's still stuck on the whole "it comes out of the anus" bit.
While I'll admit it was somewhat childish (poop and butt jokes and all), I did find it quite hilarious. Hachiken is absolutely traumatized by this revelation throughout the entire episode, and does his best to avoid eggs at all costs. When he finally works up the nerve to eat one, he finds out that they are indeed delicious.
Again, context is key...
GOOD: THE STORY SETUP
This is the first episode, of course, so I can't really say too much about the story other than there's a good set up for one. Whenever Hachiken is asked why he came all the way out to an agricultural school in the middle of nowhere, he says it's because, "It has a dorm, which means I don't have to go home." There seems to be quite a bit of resentment of his home life if he's willing to stick it out in what is probably one of the most physically exhausting schools there is. There's also a great set up for the love interest of the story, Aki Mikage. I've seen lots of different anime, so I know when the obvious love interest walks on screen.
Although, to be honest, this one was a little different than most...
All that said, I'm interested about where the story is headed. I know the manga is already out, but, like Attack on Titan, I don't want to read ahead. This sort of genre is wholly different than Fullmetal Alchemist, but I think Arakawa-san knows what she's doing.
GENIUS: THERE'S A GREAT VARIETY OF CHARACTERS
Similar to FMA, there is a wide variety of characters who have a wide variety of dreams. I'll have to give it a few episodes to see how each pans out, but just from the five characters in "Group A" there is a significant variety of character designs and personalities.
Aikawa is kind-hearted and somewhat quiet, and wants to be a veterinarian despite his aversion to blood. Tokiwa is not the brightest, but knows quite a bit about chickens and wants to take over his family's chicken farm. Komaba is the strong, hard-working type and aims to go to the nationals with the school's baseball team. Tamako is the fat one...
...who still manages to somehow get swooped up by the wind.
Seriously though, Tamako wants to learn how to run a business so she can create one of Japan's finest agricultural companies. Then there's Hachiken, who doesn't really have a goal other than to get away from home. There's also a good variety of character designs and personalities outside of the main cast, such as the teachers and other students.
Now that I think about it, no two characters are similar, just like in Fullmetal Alchemist. Some anime have several characters who appear very similar, and you really have to get a good look at their faces in order to tell them apart. Some anime use hair color to make sure you know who you're looking at, or they use scars, or certain styles of clothes. For Hiromu Arakawa's works, however, it's general character shape and design. It makes it easy to tell who is who without resorting to over the top outfits and otherworldly hair colors. This is a prime reason for why I like her work so much.MIXED: WILL IT BE TOO SHORT?
The Anime News Network has Silver Spoon . They've been wrong before, but most of the time they're right. When I think about such short anime, I get conflicted. One cour (1 cour = 12-14 episodes) is sometimes not enough time to tell a decent story. In other cases, Usagi Drop for instance, one cour is perfect... except that I didn't want it to end. When I see that an anime only has one cour, I worry. Will they chop interesting bits off the story and try to cram it into only one cour, or will the essence of the story fit within the eleven episodes comfortably without hacking it all to bits? I don't know how long the story is supposed to be, and so I worry.
I really don't want to get too attached to these characters if the story is going to end abruptly... It'll be like Usagi Drop all over again... *SNIFF*
While I was unsure what to think at first about an anime about farming and agriculture, I've come to realize that Silver Spoon is not only about farming and agriculture. It has the trademark variety I've come to expect from the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist. While the main story still remains to be revealed, I feel that it has great potential. This may not be everyone's "cup of tea", and I understand that, but at least give the first episode a chance. Who knows, maybe this is "THE ONE" for you.
One of my new favorite pictures. It actually surprises me how similar this looks to my profile picture...