This is review number two hundred and thirty eight. This anime is part of the Summer 2013 lineup and it’s a show from the noitaminA hourly time slot. The other anime from the time slot was a re-run of AnoHana to promote the movie. I already reviewed that show and I am excited for the movie. The anime I’ll be reviewing though is an anime called Gin no Saji or Silver Spoon. It’s an eleven episode anime about people taking care of animals. I know, it’s a tough sell but it’s a really wonderful show. Just stop and watch the show now because it’s a really amazing show that I urge everyone to experience. With that being said though, let’s read on.
The anime is about this high school boy named Yugo Hachiken. He has enrolled in an agricultural school that teaches future farmers how to take care of animals and such. Unlike his classmates, who are all from a farming family, Hachiken is just a normal urban kid that decided to enroll in a school that requires the student to live in dorms provided by the school. His decision to enroll started on a whim but he slowly regretted this. It seems that Hachiken might not be suited for this school. He is a really smart guy though and he seems to do his best at everything he does. Oezo Agricultural High School might demand its student to wake up at five in the morning, force them to feed the livestock inside the premises and dump a lot of labor on its student but it seems that Hachiken is willing to learn. He has no other place to go so he might as well make his stay worthwhile. Even if he does finds the idea of killing livestock something he can’t seem to get used to.
Taking the Pants Off
Here we have the noitaminA entry of the Summer 2013 lineup. That’s really all you need to know. This time block in Japan has given us some legendary anime throughout the year. There are a few hits and misses but a true anime fan knows that a noitaminA anime is something that will definitely entertain. Gin no Saji is a perfect example of the wonderful alternative content that noitaminA is known for. God, this block had some rough patches but it can still deliver some strong content. I watched Gin no Saji feeling a bit indifferent towards it. A show about agriculture sounds like a pretty tasking affair. How the hell can you make raising livestock interesting? This anime truly knows how to make the concept interesting though. I guess you can expect the author of Fullmetal Alchemist to spin us a lovely story. Gin no Saji gives us a wonderful look at taking care of livestock yet also had the smart approach of being a character centered show. This show will truly surprise you. It’s amazing how interesting it was. I can’t believe it myself. It’s been a long while since I sat down in front of my computer, watched an anime and finished it the same day. It had a strong enough story that I never bothered to look at my clock and realize I spent six hours watching the show. That’s how good this show is. It seemingly looks like a mediocre show until it surprises you in the most remarkable way. You don’t have to read this review. Just watch this show. I’m sure you won’t regret it.
The anime started out innocently enough with the main character getting used to his life at this agricultural school. The first episode didn’t really seem to catch your attention and I was personally a bit confused at what kind of anime this show will be. Topics about agriculture looks like something that’ll dry up in six episodes or less so I was definitely worried about the progression of the show. Well, the show was moving about smoothly and then it did this:
I had the same reaction as the kids. In an instant, I suddenly fell in love with the concept of the show. We have a show that is about taking care of livestock. From chickens to pigs, the show focuses the rather fascinating world of farming that Harvest Moon seemed to have glorified. The different things required to take care of animals and the rather too real concept of the fate of livestock. The GIF basically captured the appeal of the anime. It talks about the function of livestock. They provide human with a lot of things including meat. Animals will die in this anime and there is a very real approach to it. The main character is an urban boy that seemed to be too sheltered over the idea of killing and butchering animals. He shares the audience’s notion about livestock and that’s what makes the show pretty cool. We see and experience things through the eyes of someone that shares our reaction. While we all have an idea that pigs and chickens are killed and that we very much need them to live, we are also not really prepared to see them slaughtered. Hachiken feels the same way and the anime is now about this boy trying to get used to this idea. He loves the taste of meat, like all of us, but he also cannot process the idea of how livestock is treated. It’s a reaction I’m sure you will feel as well as you watch the show. Hachiken must get used to it though if he plans on fitting into this school. Goddamn that GIF though, that censored headless chicken will haunt me.
The anime has three plot points it focuses on. In the span of eleven episodes, the anime was able to really tackle a lot of things and I find that pretty impressive. The first plot point is, obviously, the agricultural angle. The show gives an idea of how animals are raised and the different things farmers do to take care of them. From the back breaking labor to the time consuming tasks, there seems to be a lot of effort to really raise livestock. The anime did a wonderful job of making it really interesting. There is a nice balance of comedy, character interaction and simple sincerity in the plot point that really makes it interesting. The show usually flows like this: Hachiken would experience new things about taking care of livestock. It’ll be a process that usually demands a lot out of him. He would then complain about it because of how hard it is. At the end of the day though, Hachiken would then find new respect for the people that does this kind of job every day. It’s a really nice format that makes the show refreshing to watch. The hardships that the farmers endure are rewarded in the most wonderful way and the anime was able to capture that idea perfectly.
The relationship of the animals and the farmers is also covered in the first plot point as well. The anime often presents the viewers with some interesting idea about the ill-fated lives of livestock. Farmers would do their best to raise them yet they would kill them without second thought. Hachiken would often wonder why the idea doesn’t bother people. Most of the characters would tell him though that they did find it hard at first but eventually got used to it. Still, can you really shut your emotions down when you’re taking care of animals? You raised this animal since it was little and all that love would just end up in the slaughter house. The anime explores this idea a lot. Can you really separate livestock and pets? Hachiken would often give the appropriate response to the scenarios. He would stare at his dinner plate full of meat and ponder hard. With all of the things you’ll witness in the anime, it will surely make you think as well. As the anime progresses, the anime presents different scenarios that involves the relationship of livestock and farmers. In some episodes, there are characters that would treat animals as nothing more than profit and others would really take care of them whole heartedly. Things aren’t so black and white though and you slowly get an idea of how they answer the questions themselves by how they treat their animals. The focus is still on Hachiken though. A lot of people have given their thoughts on the matter but it still boils down to our main character reaching a decision himself. Hachiken is a really sentimental guy and he treats animals with respect. A chicken would get its head chopped off because it can’t produce eggs anymore. Hachiken would understand the position of the farmers by killing off an animal that can’t do much for them yet he also feels bad for the chicken that lost its head simply because its life is decided by the farmer. I hope you get the basic gist of the plot point. Farmers kill animals. Hachiken shares the audience’s reaction about killing animals. He then finds a way to make sense of it all in the episodes to come hoping the audience can come up with their own answer as well if they haven’t reached a decision before watching the show.
The second plot point is about Hachiken himself. The anime wasn’t really too big on the agricultural angle to the point that you’re overwhelmed by it. The show balances things out by focusing on another plot point. At the core of this anime, it’s really about Hachiken finding himself and what he wants to do with his life. It’s a good old coming of age story if there ever was one. This one is nicely mixed in with chickens being killed and whatnot though. While you watch the anime, it will soon hit you that Hachiken isn’t really cut out for this. You often wonder why he is in an agricultural school in the first place surrounded by people that are heir to some farm somewhere. The second plot point is mostly about Hachiken’s personal problems. As you progress through the show, you realize that he is deeply troubled. The biggest concern is that he doesn’t seem to know what he wants to do with his life. Unlike the rest of his classmates that already have a career in mind after graduating, Hachiken is a bit lost and he doesn’t know what to do. The anime often focuses on the different characters having “dreams” they try to achieve as they do their best in school. This would often make Hachiken think on the things he truly love and the things he want to do for the rest of his life. Being around some wonderful people seems to help a lot though for him to decide. I love this aspect of the show simply because I can relate. I also wondered about what career I will have once upon a time. The things Hachiken goes through is really something personal and I love how the anime was able to capture the indecisive and utterly scary idea of not having any future goals to look forward to. Hachiken isn’t just some guy that goes emo. He has a personal problem that feels way too real.
This coming of age story angle of the show though is pretty deep. Along with trying to find a “dream” he can focus on, Hachiken is also trying to fit in to his new high school life. He is an urban fellow that decided to enroll in some agricultural school for shallow reasons and now he can’t seem to get into the groove of his demanding life. The schedule is just too insane and he just can’t seem to find his footing. As the anime progresses though, you’ll notice that Hachiken does undergo a nice transformation. From all the deep talk about raising livestock to discovering the love between humans and animals to his personal journey to be the best at what he try to do, our main character slowly finds a place that he truly belongs in and he also grow as a really amazing person in the short run of the anime. It’s a nice angle of the anime because it really feels personal. The smart focus on the main character’s own personal growth made the anime a lot more interesting. It was able to mix in the appeal of the agricultural angle to his coming of age story and the result is pretty fantastic. You’re not just with him as he goes pale seeing a chicken die. You also accompany him through all the emotional and personal processes that he undergoes. I’m telling you this works because this is what I personally loved about the show and it’s the thing that made me sit down at 2 PM and write a review at 11 PM the same day.
The third plot point of the anime is simply about Hachiken and his classmates. This is completely different from the second plot point. The third one is more focused on the characters he interacts with. It’s about the people that are destined to become farmers because their families are farmers themselves. The story never strays away from Hachiken’s view point though. The audience still experiences the same thing he does and the same goes to how the characters are presented. Hachiken was convinced that the rest of his classmates are all lucky because they already have a career or a “dream” they can achieve once they finish their studies. The rest of the cast sees Hachiken as an ignorant person though that truly doesn’t know the concept of raising livestock. This doesn’t last though as Hachiken slowly discovers that his impression of the certain characters of the show is pretty off the mark. Some of them have some personal problems that also weigh them down and he realizes that even though they are heirs of some farm, things aren’t as cut and dry as it seems. The characters also change their opinion of Hachiken as well. They would see him as an idiot at first but they would slowly learn to like certain aspects of his personality. This all culminate in some pretty great moments for the anime. It’s not just some heart pouring moments this plot point is concerned of. It also covers the unusual high school life the characters have in this agricultural high school. The mellow moments often lead to some really comedic moments in the show and it’s that special kind of balance that really made the anime entertaining. There are enough deep elements to make you think, enough conflicts to make it exciting and enough funny moments to make it laidback. The anime seemingly knows to present all three concepts together and it really makes the viewing experience pretty awesome.
The characters made this anime special. Hachiken is one really strong protagonist. His journey through life and adjusting to this school is really interesting. He’s a really well rounded character. The way he shares the audience’s sympathy made him easier to like and the various monologues he does is personal enough for the audience to care. He is the typical likeable character though. He is persistent and his never give up attitude is fun to watch. I also love how honest our main character is. Despite having deep personal problems, he is still able to share his feelings to others with no hesitation. His transformation is really great. He starts out as this guy indifferent to the idea of how farmers treat livestock but he gradually develops into this really wonderful person. The way he develops as a character is really something I truly enjoyed. There were no boring moments when it comes to Hachiken so seeing him grow is really special.
The rest of the characters are pretty great as well. They don’t have the same focus as Hachiken and there were a lot of them. From his classmates to his teachers and a few more extra, the anime is really crowded. The show was able to balance them out though. They start out as one dimensional character but there was enough fleshing out to truly appreciate the characters. They’re still supporting characters for our hero though but the show was still able to make them interesting. The interaction among the characters is really fun to watch because they all have their own quirky personality to contribute to the pack. There was this nice balance of comedy and sincerity among the characters that makes them easier to appreciate. The various things Hachiken learns from them also did a lot for them to develop. It’s not much but they were able to really develop character wise. They might start out as simple farm minded youngsters but they eventually grow out of that description and become well rounded characters themselves. I am a bit bummed though that some characters weren’t featured as much as I would like them to. The focus was on Hachiken and the characters revolve around his story so some great characters that don’t contribute much often get shoved to the side despite their interesting personality. I personally wanted to see more of the squeamish guy that wanted to become a vet but it’s too bad the show doesn’t feature him much.
When I saw this anime on the Summer lineup, I was really skeptical but I also wanted to try it since it’s on noitaminA. I never expected to be entertained this much though. My eyes are already heavy and the night already has this scary vibe but I still want to finish this review. Gin no Saji is really original. That’s saying something. You don’t see a lot of anime that has such a unique and refreshing content. I’ve seen a lot of anime in my short time as TPAB and I honestly haven’t felt so deeply entertained like this for a long time. The manga itself though is really great and a lot of people love it. It’s a wonderful surprise knowing that the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist made the manga. She seems to really know how to balance a story out. She is mindful of the characters while it features the main core of each story. It’s that balance that really makes her amazing. There is already a second season announced for Winter 2014 in the noitaminA lineup as well. With the way the anime made me feel, you can bet I’ll dive head first into the second season the moment it finishes.
Sight and Sound
I’ve only seen a couple episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist. I don’t really have time for long shows and my motivation dries up when I watch them. The character design is pretty familiar though. The standout design of Hiromu Arakawa is noticed through the male characters. They usually have long wide faces with a boxish chin that is then complemented by some heavy facial features is her usual MO. The simplistic eyes and the straight laced hairstyle complete her design. She usually makes their hair greyish black and minimalist as possible. The eyes are often almond shaped or um…as Asian as possible (what do you call them without sounding racist?). This is then completed by a simple nose as well. It took me seconds to realize the connection of the show to FMA. The character design is really the same and the color palette was familiar as well. There is a wide range of characters in this show though. It’s a crowded show but every character is unique. Even if they had little to no introduction, the way they stand out from the rest of the cast does make them easier to appreciate. Aside from the usual FMA character design, most of the characters really have a quirky design to them. There is one chick that’s so fat she doesn’t have a neck. There is a teacher that looks like a Buddha and the principal is the height of a footstool. The funny design adds a lot to the comedy of the show.
The animation is pretty great. The show was able to capture a lot of the backbreaking labor in taking care of animals and the animation really gave it justice. The movements in the anime are smooth and there is really a nice production value for the show. This is no surprise since the anime was handled by A-1 Pictures. They have high standards in terms of production value and I’m glad that was presented in this show as well. The facial expression of the characters is a nice touch. The exaggerated reactions and the sincere faces were nicely captured by the anime. The various complicated movements were also nicely presented in the show. The way the animals move and how the characters take care of them was nicely animated that it does capture the appeal of raising animals despite the disclaimer at the end of the show. This anime is also pretty bloody though. The anime is a laidback and light hearted show but it’s also really close to real life. There is this dark comedy with how livestock are killed. I’ll refer to the GIF. That moment came swiftly. They just chopped the head off with no serious reaction on their faces and they were even smiling holding the headless chicken. For farmers, this kind of thing is really normal but you really wouldn’t expect the show to actually go that far. It crosses the line a lot but without offending anyone and still sticking to the light hearted nature that it focuses on. The squeamish will really enjoy this anime, I can tell you that much.
The background design of the anime should also be noted. The anime has a really light color palette. The background is usually painted pictures of nature with a distinct style you usually see in anime from 2005 or so. There is very little CG in the show and they’re mostly blended in with the rest of the painted design of the show. This works wonderfully because the show really has a nice feel to it that’s different to anime you’d watch today. It has a simplistic style but it was delivered in such a sophisticated manner that it really made the viewing experience pretty unique. This show really captured the spirit of noitaminA in a way and I fell about it.
The anime’s OP is “kiss you” by miwa. Miwa has a really wonderful voice. A fellow blogger recommend I try her music and I love her bubbly personality when she sings her song. This came through nicely in the OP song. It’s a really catchy song with a nice instrumental beat to it. Miwa’s voice makes it special though. This is evident in the chorus where the beat and her voice really come together nicely. The OP sequence is a nice montage of the anime summarizing the events of the show. It features the various duties Hachiken does in school, the colorful characters dancing to the song and a few select scenes that capture the event of the anime. It’s a really wonderful OP.
The anime’s ED is “Hello Especially” by Sukima Switch. I am in love with this song. The catchy beat and the simply rhythm is really fun to listen to. This is completed by Sukima’s really awesome voice that gives the slow paced song a mellow and nostalgic vibe. It’s really awesome. The ED sequence features Hachiken walking through a field with the rest of the characters passing him by. This ends with him riding a horse and the sun giving off the orange color it does when it sets. The ED sequence really captures the beauty of the animation and the simple background designs of the show. It’s a nice treat to end an episode, to be honest.
9/10 “It’s original, unique and really entertaining. Who would’ve thought milking a cow can be so damn intriguing to watch?”
This is a really great show. The comedy and the drama are nicely balanced in this show. The agricultural elements were nicely handled in a way that you truly feel immersed in it without it feeling like a subject in school that’ll quiz you later on. There’s a lot to like about this show and I am extremely excited to watch the upcoming second season. If you like light hearted anime with a wonderful cast then this show is for you. If you enjoyed the heyday of noitaminA then you’ll love this show. If you like original content in your anime then this anime will really surprise you. I highly recommend it.