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 97 to 105.
Volume 12 picks up with Hachiken still determined to move ahead with his business venture, something former student (and current mooch) Ookawa sets his sights on as a means to stave off unemployment. Despite his business plans frequently being rejected by his father, Hachiken is undeterred.
A new character is also introduced in a tomboy-ish first-year (whose name is never actually given in the volume.) At first they’re nervous about the prospect of joining the Equestrian Club, having initially been dazzled by the shows the club puts on, but are soon reassured by Hachiken and Mikage, the former seeing himself in them as they both come from non-farming families.
From a narrative perspective, certain chapters are divided into sections dubbed “Tales of…” which focus on some of the other supporting characters. “The Tale of Keiji Tokiwa, Shinnosuke Aikawa, and Tamako Inada” introduces a discussion about the ownership of cow livestock which transitions into the next segment as Hachiken rejects the opportunity to go to France as part of work experience.
”The Tale of Mayumi Yoshino” sees the spunky cheese-maker jumping at the opportunity…only to return dejected and drained, though I won’t spoil why here. “The Tale of Aki Mikage” continues the focus on their education and ever-growing personal relationship with Hachiken as the unnamed newcomer is used as a messenger by the other students to try and force progress between the two.
Bizarrely, Ookawa spends much of the volume trotting around a pig, named “Former-Prez” (much to Hachiken’s dismay) which, turning out to be female, sparks the idea of breeding piglets, something Fuji-Sensei is keen on assisting with.
The plan gets its legs when Mikage’s grandparents agree to lend some land and allow their now-empty stables to be demolished and repurposed into a pigsty. Ookawa finds his calling as Hachiken realises that they’re only respectable with a job, asking them to become company president in their business venture.
The Equestrian Club also sees a change of leadership as Mikage is shortlisted to take over as Club President, a venture that would look good on their college resumé.
Where we last left off with Komaba he was slowly getting out of the rut caused by his family farm going under. This volume sees some major developments as Mikage (senior) looks to rent the land to put cows to pasture for their milk. This ties back into the ideas of raising cow livestock of which a proposal is handed over. He also gets a section of the manga dedicated to him in “The Tale of Ichirou Komaba” wherein he finally settles on a dream and flies off to pursue it.
The volume ends as the Ooezo Agricultural High School students each continue to make strides towards their dreams. Hachiken desires to make pizzas as a catalyst to this (pizzas were made before when he was at his lowest and they brought everyone together).
Their pig now has piglets, Hachiken is slowly building his savings and impressing his father, Yoshino wants to experiment further with cheeses and the nameless newcomer is finding their place in the Equestrian Club.
Overall, it’s satisfying to see the intertwining plots and character traits coming together as Silver Spoon continues to impress, thanks to the tight writing and character progression.
©2011 Hiromu Arakawa. ©2019 by Yen Press.