So I have lots and lots and lots of ideas (I’ve been meaning to do a write-up on “Hunter x Hunter” for a loooooong time)but am also quite busy. So here’s a great, relaxing, feel-good anime suggestion for you: “Silver Spoon”.
Normally this is not the type of show I’d even consider watching in a million years. Literally nothing about the premise appeals to me. “Silver Spoon” is the story of Hachiken, a Japanese city boy and terrific student who is paralyzed by choices when it gets time to pick a high school. So he accepts the advice of a counselor to try out an agricultural school, so he can experience a different side of life and use the new perspective to reevaluate his options.
It sounds boring, doesn’t it? It does to me anyway. Slice of life was never my thing, and the few I like are hybrids with other genres.
I gave it a shot for one and only one reason: The creator of the manga it was based on was Hiromu Arakawa.
Hiromu Arakawa! The creator of “Fullmetal Alchemist”! The person behind my favorite anime ever!
Worth the shot.
And man, was it worth the shot.
“Silver Spoon” is for my money the perfect feel-good show.
The Reading Rainbow Emperor Benjamin Wheeler put out a great video that highlights some of my issues with the feel-good show of the 2019 Spring season, “The Helpful Fox Senko-San”, but I have other issues with it, though in some ways they’re more subjective than objective. The show is basically content-free. It is pure fluff. There is absolutely no substance to it at all. There is nothing to think about, nothing to consider. It’s just a fox girl making a guy feel good and making you feel good by extension. I forget 90% of what happened as soon as it ends and find myself mostly bored every time I’ve tried it.
“Silver Spoon” is a feel-good show too, but it’s nothing like that. It explores real, important themes. You can say that the show is basically about showing us how the sausage is made, and thus the internal struggle that justifies our consumption of meat and even dairy. Farm life is definitely presented in some ways as charming and fulfilling, but it isn’t idealistic or easy. It takes work, HARD work, and sometimes things just have to be done to the animals that aren’t in their best interests in order for us to get what we meant, Through Hachiken we join in the struggle of reconciling that knowledge with our love of farm food.
But it isn’t presented to us in a depressing way, and it never gets overly serious. Hachiken is a fish out of water, and in some ways the perfect fish out of water protagonist, but he gets the hang of things quickly. Early on there’s a bit of fun to be had watching him figure it all out, but it never feels cruel, and Hachiken really does get a handle on it. He makes friends, he’s well-liked, and ultimately he comes to truly appreciate what the life of a farmer is like.
This is just a show that makes you smile. The pacing is slow, the conflicts are low stakes yet still interesting, and every character is likable. There’s no antagonist. It’s just the story of a kid trying to fit in at a new school and figuring out stuff about life, except the school is a farming school.
Which is also relevant. This show is incredibly educational. The portrayal of farmer life is meticulously accurate; I know this because the ending of each episode actually tells us directly, and Hiromu Arakawa grew up on a farm. And they really make it interesting. This is where Hachiken’s fish out of water aspects come into play; he doesn’t know anything either, so we learn alongside him. And that’s part of the fun!
I really can’t recommend this show enough. I wish it was a classic, and in fact the manga is a massive, award-winning hit, but the anime adaptation never got legs. It was just popular enough for a second season – which I’ll be starting soon – and then it was dropped. Somehow, despite its pedigree, it completely flew under the radar. And that’s a real shame. If you are at all interested in slice of life, or a good, fun show to relax in front of, you really can’t get a better, higher quality show than “Silver Spoon”. Honestly, I don’t even know what to criticize about it. The premise is simple but it executes it perfectly.
Highly, highly recommended.
Some final recommendations of slice of life shows I actually like: “Haibane Renmei”, a sort of mystery/fantasy thing, “Robotics;Notes”, which has science fiction and a conspiracy plot in the background, and “Dennou Coil”, which is pure cyberpunk in a fascinating setting, and WILL be getting an article one day because holy crap is that show fantastic. Maybe put part 4 of “JoJo’s on the list too, but really, JoJo is basically its own genre too.
I don’t really get why “Silver Spoon” has a romance anime op, but eh, it’s good.