Silver Spoon is an ongoing manga series by Hiromu Arakawa of Fullmetal Alchemist fame. It’s a coming-of-age story that focuses on the first-year students of Ooezo Agricultural High School who are enrolled in the Dairy Science Program and follows their progress as students and how they develop and come into their own as people. During this process, antics usually ensue and lessons tend to be learned too.
Silver Spoon was adapted into an anime series in 2013 and 2014 which has had two seasons so far, adapting up to around Chapter 75. This volume covers Chapters 89 to 96.
Volume 11 begins with the students being reminded that their time in the first year dorms is coming to an end. There’s much discussion about where to find new lodgings but the conversation soon turns to careers and we continue to follow Hachiken’s progress in tutoring Mikage, who wants to make it into college so they can study horses – a dream of theirs.
Outside of studying there’s also Valentine’s Day to worry about. As per Japanese tradition, female students often hand out chocolate to male students and, as such, Hachiken proposes the idea to Mikage during a study session, with the intention of getting some just from her – it takes a while for Mikage to realise the context as Toyonishi, an older student, has to spell it out. It’s a funny scenario.
Volume 11 also hosts one of the most unnerving manga panels that also manages to be pretty hilarious as sly goofball Ookawa discovers that fellow student Yoda has broken up with his girlfriend.
Silver Spoon has a great ability to juxtapose more humorous segments with character growth and more serious situations as when Hachiken has an epiphany about his plans for the second year and beyond. In a conversation with his parents, he expresses a desire to have his father “invest” in him, using his college funds to instead start his own business, inspired by an earlier conversation with Ookawa.
His father is sceptical and Hachiken realises he can’t live up to their ideals, so they come to a compromise. It’s a pretty mature discussion, especially since their relationship has been showcased as strained so far and though it doesn’t exactly end glowingly, it’s another indication that Hachiken is trying to take steps in the right direction.
Volume 10 had Hachiken overseeing the manufacturing of sausages and bacon, showing natural leadership and, as such; it makes sense to see him want to pursue a role like this.
He begins to talk with several fellow students, including Yoshino, who plans to start a cheese-making business using her parents’ dairy, and Inada, who has enthusiastically decided to help out with a business proposal – a means to convince his father that he’s seriously thought his decision through.
I found it fascinating how Hachiken decides to take advantage of the network of potential contacts that Ooezo Agricultural High School has provided him with. This is highlighted by a meeting with his teacher, who struggles to give him advice due to the career path being one he’s never seen a student take before, but discusses the potential laid before him.
The rest of Volume 11 sees Hachiken’s parents pay the high school a visit, with Mikage standing up for Hachiken and defending his decision not to enroll at a college. There’s also a more light-hearted and fun chain of events that leads to the students concocting a hotpot for a party.
Somehow, despite looking absolutely grim and having way too many unwieldy ingredients in it, they find that it’s a “mystery hotpot of miracles!”
Hachiken is also gifted with several tools for his business venture as Nishikawa provides his old laptop and Inada a folder that’s chock-a-block with pig-related research.
Perhaps the most notable chapter comes when the Principal gives a speech to commemorate the end of the first year. It is here that the titular Silver Spoon of the manga’s title comes into play as he gives them a talk which acts as food for thought.
The volume ends in a rather…explosive manner, but I won’t dare spoil it here!
Overall, Silver Spoon Volume 11 houses some notable progression for Hachiken’s post-high school career and delivers typically well-timed laughs but also more serious and poignant discussions, all capped off with some great moments for the supporting cast.
©2011 Hiromu Arakawa. ©2019 by Yen Press.