The Winter 2014 Anime Preview Guide
Silver Spoon 2
Review: With the first arc of the story finished, and Hachiken fully committed to taking farm life seriously, a whole new crop of troubles come stampeding his way. Well, horse-apples.
For those not familiar with Silver Spoon, this is not a good place to start. The show jumps right into conflicts set up in the first season, and subtle dynamics between the show's three most important characters. It is a show worth watching however, and seeing as this is only episode 12, there's plenty of time to catch up! It is refreshing that Silver Spoon has taken advantage of the season break to shift focuses from Hachiken learning about farm life and reconciling his own weakness with its harshness to different pastures entirely. This time the story seems laser-focused on Hachiken's relationships with the other students, who have put him in a position of leadership for the upcoming semester because what he sees as city-boy weakness, they see as approachability. Hachiken remembers the principal telling him that for all their warmness, the country folk can be stoics unaware of their own feelings, and so he starts to reach out to Mikage, who seems to have heavy problems weighing on her mind. But is his heart in the right place? Does he really want to be a responsible leader and help her, or is he just acting on his crush and trying to step in before his perceived rival Komaba handles the issue himself? Komaba warns him: "This problem has nothing to do with you."
It's instantly more serious and personal territory than Silver Spoon has gone in the past, and foreshadows great change and potential hardship for Hachiken and the girl he loves. Through this, the show still keeps its warm, silly center, mixing the melodrama in between scenes describing how to make cows prettier for farm shows, and why sometimes heifers with big udders need to wear a bra. It's a tidy balance similar to Arakawa's previous writing in FMA, and it's well worth watching.
Silver Spoon 2 is available streaming at Crunchyroll.
Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Review:The inaugural episodes of Silver Spoon seasons one and two are like night and day, thanks in large part to the lengthy strides taken by a superbly handled and well-written first season. Whereas the first couple of episodes of Silver Spoon season one leaned heavily on farm jokes and played up the city-boy-goes-to-the-country bit, an entire season of careful character manipulation and development has allowed the second season to start on much more even ground. Yes, working on a farm is hard (and going to an agricultural school even harder), but there are other things in life that are just as difficult, like being a good friend, navigating the pitfalls of teenage love, and figuring out one's path in life. Silver Spoon is as much of a coming-of-age slice-of-life as it is a comedy about rural life, and judging from this first episode, it's looking like this season will focus a lot more on the characters than the animals they're eating.
In fact, minus the montages of characters collecting eggs and feeding pigs, there's not too much of rural life at all in this episode, which isn't a bad thing. Silver Spoon excelled in the first season for the way it brought up sensitive topics like conscientious carnivorism and livestock production, but it'll be nice to see the show move in a different direction. After all, messages such as that are important, but in the context of entertainment, run the risk of becoming repetitive. Instead, this episode seems to highlight more the relationships between the students and their graduation goals. If the rest of the season keeps with this trajectory, it'll shape up to be a fine season.
For those who are just in it for the jokes, though, this episode won't disappoint. While it's not as comedy-focused as some of the episodes in the first season, it still manages to bring back some of the previous jokes (bless the hearts of the Holstein Club and their cow porn), as well as toss in a few yuks about cow bras. There are plenty of sight gags to chuckle over as well, including a scene of a calf absentmindedly suckling on Hachiken's fingers that is much funnier to watch than it sounds.
Overall, Silver Spoon is already showing a lot of promise, and will be a great addition to this season's offerings.
Silver Spoon season two is available streaming on Crunchyroll.
Rating: 5 (out of 5)
Silver Spoon is back! Retaining its mix of agricultural information, tips on animal husbandry, high school basics, and a solid emotional core, things look to be off to a good start for Hachiken's fall semester at Oezoo. There is actually very little carry over that is directly taken from the finale of the previous season – just a couple of mentions of the bacon from the late lamented Pork Bowl. Otherwise this seems to be a brand new storyline, albeit one that requires you having seen the first season to be invested in it. There are two major plot events that occur here: the third years are stepping down from the Equestrian Club and Hachiken (much to his horror) is named the new club vice-president, and Mikage seems to have some sort of secret that's upsetting her and that she won't tell him about. Naturally this increases Hachiken's worries on her behalf, concerns that are only compounded by the fact that she's willing to talk to Komaba, her baseball-playing childhood buddy, about it. Romantic angst is almost certain to ensue.
All of that pesky plot aside, Silver Spoon still has its gentle pace that pulls you in and makes you care about the day-to-day tasks of farming and animal husbandry. Hachiken may learn new and terrifying truths about bovine bras, but now he can gather eggs like a pro. Of the returning cast, only Mikage and Komaba really make any significant return (with Toki as comic relief), but it is Hachiken's relationship with himself and farm life that is the central one here, something that remains true for this opening episode of the second season. We see that he's feeling much more confident, and I look forward to watching that continue to grow. It seems likely as well that there may be an increase in rivalry this time around, with potential competition for Mikage shown: a new equestrienne with worrisome blond ringlets shown in the new opener, and really, when has an anime character with that design ever worked out well?
This is all secondary of course to the major event that is foreshadowed by the opening and closing credits: it looks like they're going to get a puppy!
Silver Spoon 2 is available streaming on Crunchyroll.
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