Gin no Saji Second Season Review

This is review number three hundred and thirteen. This anime is part of Winter 2014 lineup. This was a lineup I sacrificed so I can fully finish the Fall 2014 in time for the current seasonal lineup. I have fallen behind so far though that I no longer care if I’m in the current lineup. Right now, I have my own pace and I decided to come back for the shows I missed while inching my way forward. Anyways, the anime I’ll be reviewing is the second season of Silver Spoon. It’s an eleven episode anime from the noitaminA block. It’s about a guy milking a cow among other things. Let’s read on.

Story

This anime follows a guy named Hachiken who decided to attend high school in an agricultural school. The first season featured his emotional dilemma of facing the harsh truth about livestock but also featured his growth as a well-rounded guy. The second season follow this up with more agricultural dilemmas and some personal conflicts that’ll help him grow up as an individual some more.

Taking the Pants Off

One of the big reasons I wanted to double back on the shows I missed, instead of just watching new shows, is because I am really kicking myself for missing out on a lot of them. The biggest one I really hated not watching was the second season of Silver Spoon. I really love the first season. It had a really wonderful story that I can partly relate to while giving us some nice doses of the horrible realities of actual farm life. I still remember the wonderful scene of that headless chicken flapping around with blood gushing out of its neck and I really promised myself that I would watch Winter 2014 because I need to see Silver Spoon 2. The first season really hooked me and there were some answers I needed to see revealed in the second season. I was so freaking in love with this series that I finished it in a day. The TPAB from two years ago does that all the time. The now cynical and slightly over exposed anime reviewer TPAB today could barely finish one in a week. Silver Spoon has all the wonderful elements that it made me watch it to the end. The eccentric characters, the well-executed drama and the coming of age story of our main character really shine amazingly giving us a wonderful show about agriculture. There were also some things I wanted to see properly explored in the second season. I think those questions were nicely answered in this anime and even gave us some satisfying resolution for some of the plot points of the first season. Still, I have my complaints though. As wonderful as this show is, I do think it had a few blemishes here and there. I’ll explain that later on. For now, let me tell you that Silver Spoon is an amazing series. It’s an engaging show TPAB wholeheartedly recommends.

The show is about this city kid named Yugo Hachiken who decided to attend high school in a faraway agriculture school. Most of his classmates are studying in a normal school and he ended up in a school full of manual labor for future farmers of Japan. In the first season, his life was hell as the audience gets a glimpse at the back breaking labor needed to deliver food to their plates. Hachiken collected eggs from chickens, cleaned up after horses and even raised some pigs destined to be bacon. He discovered the rather unpleasant fates of most of the livestock he takes care of. Most of his classmates understand though, being raised from farms themselves, that these animals are meant to be food at some point in time and there’s nothing they can do about it. For a city kid though, the thought is soul crushing as he spends the first season having a moral dilemma sending one of the pigs he raised straight to the slaughter. Still, Hachiken discovered that he has found a place just for him in this school full of warm and caring people despite being an obvious outsider. In the first season, we saw Hachiken grow from an oblivious city kid to a dependable person as he slowly got use to the backbreaking life in this agricultural school. The first season ended rather beautifully as we, the audience, give off a warm smile for Hachiken as he spends his happy days in this school surrounded by all these warm people.

The first season left a lot of doors open though. Certain parts of the story were left up in the air and the second season immediately followed behind to close that door. The second season is pretty much like the first season but it features a Hachiken that is more grown up and reliable. It no longer have any really shocking farm moments like that f*cking headless chicken as we see Hachiken really get into a familiar groove in his school life. I immediately gave off a smile seeing Hachiken wake up at dawn happy as he greets his fellow classmates. He tends to his duties picking up chicken eggs and even does his chores at his equestrian club. We see him interact with the same eccentric characters as he does his job on the field, in the classroom, in his club and even inside his dorm room. I love how the show was able to set the usual pace I personally love about the series. It has an easy going and calm atmosphere despite Hachiken doing hard labor. It also still featured those things that made the series really special. It still has those wonderful school lessons where it freaks you out like giving a cow a rectal exam or something freaky like that. Of course, it also featured the special moral dilemma of how animals are treated rather coldly towards their fate as being food. There were some scenes that can still make you stop like how they mentions cows that are injured at lunchtime gets slaughtered at dinner time because it cannot produce the quota amount of milk needed for milking cows. I mean, yeah, the experience is all here. Along with those upsetting elements, the show still presents us with those wonderful sentiments of how farmers pour their hearts out to deliver good food and the satisfied faces of people eating their food still gave off that warm welcoming feeling I’m sure a lot of people enjoyed in the series. The things that made the first season great are all present here still as beautiful as they were the last time we saw it.

For the second season though, the focus is on newer things. After all, Hachiken is now this dependable guy that has grown accustomed to his life at school. The elements of the first season are gradually toned down as the second season focuses on other things. One of the bigger things explored is the “school life” Hachiken is supposed to be living. It’s not about the back breaking labor he has to endure though. No, it doesn’t double here. Instead, the more mellowed out school activities are featured. The second season gave us moments like the equestrian club participating in school tournaments and it even has a beautiful sports technical run down of how to make a horse jump. It had a chapter completely about an adorable school festival and the class, clubs and everything else has to put a presentation for visitors participating in the festival. It’s your typical stuff where booths are setup and things like that. I find it adorable though that the class is brainstorming a booth and all the pitches are soup based cuisine. Lastly, it also presented menial things like studying for exams and other normal school life activities. I define normal as oppose to the usual stuff Hachiken does like seeing a cow give birth. As you can see, the second season is really pretty tame compared to the first season. Pork Bowl looking sad as he is led to the slaughter house still breaks my heart so, I also find it weird that the show isn’t setting us up for some more heartbreaking livestock related story.

One of the big reasons why the show isn’t featuring headless chickens flapping away is because it features other things like Hachiken’s experience as a full pledge student and the relationships he has made in his time in the school. It’s more about the cast and a more character driven story for the second season. The elements of the first season are lightly sprinkled but the second season primarily focuses on the growing relationships Hachiken has with the people close to him. With that being said, this anime has three plot points. These are stories the show gradually developed as it progresses. I skipped mentioning the chapters as they mostly focus on the school life I mentioned above. Those are merely just smartly tacked on though as to properly setup and develop the three plot points of this anime. The first one is about Hachiken’s coming of age story. In the first season, a cynical city kid learns to enjoy life in this agricultural school. He even learned more about himself as he sees the other students work towards their goal in life. He soon learned to accept himself as this outsider kid that knows only of what he loves and he does his best at whatever goal he is trying to achieve. Seeing him fatten up a pig because he care for the bastard got people thinking and they soon accepted him as one of theirs. Emotional maturity is one of the biggest things talked about in the first season. This was continued on in the second season. There was a bigger focus on though on Hachiken being a well-rounded person, as per his maturity in the first season, and how most people look up to him since they aren’t as strong as he is. Most of the conflicts in the show are about other characters and Hachiken often just stood on the side trying his best to help them. He would have self-reflections though concerning some of the conflicts his friends faces. This led him to think more about himself and the direction his life currently headed.

I’ve recently learned through the second season that Hachiken has some deep rooted inferiority complex. He massively over compensate because he still have some hung ups about his own abilities. The events of the anime pretty much featured just how much Hachiken overcompensates like how he would shoulder a lot of responsibilities during the school festival. Finding out the reason for his personality is a wonderful element of the show but I also think that there is a side of him that we can totally relate to. He does his best for himself and for others. He does this to make people happy. He would go out of his way to help someone even if they don’t want to bother the guy. The show explains that he does this because he doesn’t want to still be that outsider kid. He understands that this is the place he really belongs to and he would do his best to stay there. This comes in full circle when you realize exactly why Hachiken thinks and acts this way. In the first season, it was revealed that Hachiken ran away from his home because he didn’t want to face his father. He has an estranged relationship with the guy and it was hinted, towards the end of the first season, that his father issues will be brought back up in the second season. It was. I think it was his father issues that finally completed the entire picture. The reason he why he decided to go to an outskirt school, his vulnerabilities wanting to belong and the way he overcompensates can all be properly explained just by the dialogue he had with his father. The guy is just like what you’d expect a father to be, in all honestly, but still some things can really sting. You’ll really sympathize with Hachiken some more as you slowly understand his current position and it’ll make you want to root for him more. The various events in the anime served as a good way to further develop Hachiken and hopefully find a way to finally confront his problems in life in general as well as face his disapproving father.

The second plot point is about love. Ok, nothing too direct or anything but it’s about Hachiken’s relationship with Aki Mikage. In the first season, they had this mutual understanding with one another and she’s the only reason why he decided to join the equestrian club. In the second season, the two become a lot closer to each other. Think of that mutual understanding phase they had and imagine it slowly turning into something more. The two slowly bonded as they share their problems, their spare moments and even their goals in life to each other. The show also slowly develop Aki’s character some more. She’s a closed off person that doesn’t reveal much of herself to others. I think the third time you hear her say “I’m fine” will bother you because the girl just keeps holding herself back. This is mainly the reason why seeing her give a warm smile to Hachiken make the second plot point the best thing the season has to offer. The show doesn’t rush things though as it still abides to its casual pace. The fact that every episode has a scene where Aki and Hachiken are alone gives you a general idea of what’s about to go down though. The growing relationship between the two is one of the show’s biggest focuses but it still does nicely tie in with the rest of the show. I actually admire how the relationship is handled. Nothing is hurriedly presented and it took a more personal road as you might probably be more in love with the idea of them getting together than anything else.

The third plot point is about this idea of following your dreams. This was setup rather forcefully since this doesn’t really have any proper development in the story. I’m guessing it’s something you’d expect properly tackled in the third season. Anyways, this plot point comes up after this shocking event involving one of the characters. Basically, the guy tried his best to reach his dreams and the rest of the characters are even cheering him on loudly. Unfortunately, his dream was cut short and the guy was forced to give it up. Hachiken then realized that it’s easier to follow your dreams till the end than give up on it half way through and then bitterly accept the realities of life. It’s a really personal plot point wherein it just begs the audience to ponder about their life decisions as well. Silver Spoon’s message is a lot more effective because it’s casual pace leans more to a realistic outlook on life. So when you see a guy just swallow this bitter pill and move on with his life, it will get to you. This then follows up with Hachiken thinking hard on what his dream is and it even progressed with him trying to help another realize their dream as well. The three plot points nicely come together at this point as his emotional maturity and everything else gets poured in helping out this friend achieve his dream. I’m trying to be as vague as possible because this is a rather simple show and I think the contents are just too beautiful to spoil. Anyways, the third plot point is about following your dreams and the usual things you’d expect when you pursue it. From the people disapproving of your decision, the ones who will happily support it up to the amount of effort you had to put in order to achieve it, the third plot point really gives you a bright picture of how dreams are usually realized.

The characters make this show really special. Of course, we still have the eccentrics being the same weirdos as they were in the first season. You have the members of that cow club, the teachers with their own special quirk, the classmates ranging from the stupid to the adorable and even the vibrant animals. They still provide some nice pockets of comedy from time to time to really set the casual pace of the show to a tee. Hachiken definitely shows a sign of maturity here. The show doesn’t lean that much on Hachiken in this season. In the first season, he was a guy learning about life through his mistakes and the wrong misconceptions being straighten out. In the second season, most of the conflicts are external and Hachiken is an observer learning from those things. He is still that guy that thinks the idea of livestock is disconcerting but he doesn’t b*tch as much about it now. He has grown and it really shows. The Hachiken of this season is now someone that is really dependable and he still takes a lot of burden for others. Sometimes, Hachiken’s maturity is a big element to how most of the characters act since they think that they aren’t as grown up as him. I think it was a good idea to externalize the problems to help develop the rest of the cast. Hachiken still had some conflicts of his own as well though. As I said, his dad appears in this season and how he handled that gloomy rain cloud is actually a clear sign of how wonderful this guy has become.

There are some new characters but they really didn’t do much. They were decent additions but the show never really centered around them. Yeah, they added to the insanity but I think they were more plot device than anything. An example would be Hachiken’s mother who didn’t really do much but she did help give us a better idea of why Hachiken is the way he is. The show’s casual pace never veered away from our character so the rest of the cast is just there for support. I do admire how it fleshes out some of the old characters though. Aki was heavily featured in this anime and I honestly don’t care for her at first. She was the girl Hachiken likes and her role basically remained like that until the end of the first season. That’s why it was a nice surprise to see her and all her cute details featured in the show. She eventually becomes a character you want to root for as she slowly opens up to Hachiken. Their moments together are amazing and it packed a lot of punch because we know just how the two behaves when around each other and towards other people. There is another character nicely fleshed out in the second season. He had a big part on the third plot point and part of why I think the whole story felt forced is because we never really know what happened to the guy. As I said, I think the third plot point’s proper resolution is reserved for another season. Still, the guy just had to take it all in and I do feel bad for him. I’m trying to be vague here but seeing an empty cow barn can make you cry because of what the guy had to go through.

I loved this anime since I first saw that shocking headless chicken but I’ve stayed with it because the wonderful things it has presented us. The story is really one of a kind and I love how it simple the presentation is. It doesn’t try hard with any gimmick or bullsh*t and just present a straight up beautiful story of a guy experiencing life in an agricultural school. I do have a few problems with the whole sports themed chapters but I think the whole thing worked out well. The only problem I have with this second season is that it made me want to see more of the story. I’m too lazy for manga so I hope a third season is in the works. I trust A-1 Pictures though. They deliver on a lot of things so I am pretty confident a third season will come but it is concerning that there is no announcement after this anime aired since last year. noitaminA usually follow up with more seasons if the series is good so I think all things point to a yes but it’s still too soon to tell. We might end up with another Ao no Exorcist thing here but we shall see. As usual, you can’t doubt A-1 Pictures. They know how to deliver great sh*t and this show is another good example of that. This show has two directors for some reason. Tomohiko Itou is a main stay at A-1 Pictures. He directed a lot of other A-1 Picture works like SAO and its second season. For the most part, he is usually just a sound director which is new to me. I do think he was the one that captured the casual pace of the manga and translated it beautifully in the anime. The other director is Otomi Deai. He storyboarded a lot of great shows like Tonari no Kaibutsu and The World God Only knows so I do think this guy had some wonderful talents presented in this series. I do think the two directors wonderfully combined their talents for this one. A-1 Pictures is mostly action oriented in their works so giving us a laidback comedy drama would be a huge leap if they didn’t have people that knows how to slow a pace down. I do hope the third season comes soon because I do think this series is special and A-1 Pictures should keep it going.

Sight and Sound

It feels really weird to see Full Metal Alchemist designs for this show. I checked out the manga and the comparison is more noticeable with Hiromu Arakawa even making every panel look like a shounen manga. The bold lines, the sharp edges and a lot of other things are really very shounen-like so I admire the show for capturing a more subtle atmosphere the series should really have. Still though, the designs are pretty wonderful. It’s more rough looking on the manga though since I noticed the emphasis is more on the dialogue. It’s the one that creates the calm pace. Anyways, the character is still leaning on the shounen side. We have muscle bound characters here that belongs in Roy Mustang’s squad. There is a big departure in how she draws other characters though often by breaking most of her rules like making a heavy set girl with short limbs, a character that looks like Buddha and even that adorable principal that is so gawd damn short. Still, the FMA artist still shines through as you notice the fierce eyes, the recognizable hair styles and the intimidating aura of most of the characters. I think it’s done intentionally so people can outright tell the FMA mangaka did this. Still, I kinda burst out laughing when I saw Hachiken’s father looking as if he just had a fight with a homunculus. I like her designs though. It exudes manliness in an unexplainable awesome way that counters the calm nature of the series. Her designs also demand attention so it does cancel out any boring scene the show might possess and I’m pretty sure there are none. She does have great range though since feminine characters really do look gentle despite her bold style.

Animation is the one thing that really elevated this series. The color palette sets the tone for the anime and it tones down the bold and fierce design of Hiromu. It also really brightened up the looks of the characters since most of the panels of the manga really look uninviting at times. As I said, the dialogue carried the manga while the anime had to really capture Hiromu’s vision of an agricultural school told through her story. A-1 Pictures did a hell of a good job at this. They also gave justice to the story even though they roughly skipped some certain scenes. You won’t notice it though because the animation really made sure there are no boring moments in the show. The comedy scenes are well executed while the dramatic moments pack a strong punch and they made sure to stay true to the panels it came from. They gave a much brighter perspective though often using a more engaging camera work and embellishing the story with some damn fine animation. The show isn’t also shy with establishing some scenery shots which I really admire since the manga often pushes it to the side.

The first season had some amazing songs to it and I remember the background music really giving us the pace the show was targeting. This was the same in the second season. The soundtrack is still top notch and I am absolutely in love with the OP and ED songs. The OP song is “LIFE” by Fujifabric. This is a wonderful country song that is vibrant the moment it starts playing. I love the playful rhythm while the song talks about the uncertainty in life being manageable next to the one you love. It’s a really sweet and surprisingly deep song but it’s also really catchy. The rhythm is infectious from the verse to the chorus while the lyrics nicely sum up the spirit of the show. The OP sequence features a decent montage involving the characters and a few hints of the episodes to come. It ends with a bunch of the characters gazing at the sunset which really makes me smile considering how the scene is played out.

silverspoon2-15

The ED song is “Oto no Naru Hou e” by Goose house. This is another happy and vibrant song about life and love. I love this song a lot because the special lyrics are sung with earnest by Goose house. They gave us a positive song with a really bouncing rhythm that you simply cannot stop listening to. The ED sequence is much like the OP sequence. It features a bunch of the characters and a happy montage that captures the same spirit as the song.

Overall Score

8/10 “It’s a strong story about farm life with a great lesson to teach about life in general.”

This is a perfect follow up to the first season. It answered a lot of things the first season didn’t finish up and even develop some more great things in its short run. If you enjoy slow paced show about life then you’ll love this anime. If you enjoy shows with a strong story and a nice balance of comedy and drama then you’ll like this show as well. If you love noitaminA show then, of course, you should see the second season of one of its strongest shows. I really enjoy this anime because of its solid story. I am sure there is also something for you to enjoy about the relatable struggles of the characters. I highly recommend it.

2 thoughts on “Gin no Saji Second Season Review

  1. I am happy to see in this climate of otomes, romances, harems and action there is a hard working anime that focuses on actual paced relationships and actual hard work to gain things. Another anime is Chihayafuru thanks for introducing me to this one too.

Thoughts~

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