Silver Spoon is an ongoing manga series by Hiromu Arakawa of Fullmetal Alchemist fame. This volume covers Chapters 106 to 113.
Volume 13 continues its focus on Hachiken and Ookawas’ business venture as they decide to do a throwback and have a pizza party, whilst the Equestrian Club also has a competition to win.
As the Equestrian Team move through the competition, Hachiken is increasingly concerned due to his relationship with horses being…complicated. He does, however, find an unlikely bond with his horse, Agnes – though this is only due to a particularly humorous preference on the latter’s part.
As the tournament progresses we also get insights into how Komaba has been getting on and Hachiken’s parents make an appearance (unbeknownst to their son, naturally), though there are signs that their strained familial bonds are improving gradually.
It’s not long before business is back on the brains of our characters as Ookawa and Hachiken discover the opportunity to acquire some Jinhua pork, a tasty meat found mainly in Gotemba where the national Championship is being held. Hachiken has the idea to throw the “Ultimate German Pizza Tasting party” with some prime ingredients. This group bonding exercise goes down a treat!
A recurring plot line that’s given some prominence again is Hachiken training Mikage so that she can get into her chosen university and, perhaps more importantly, properly confess his love to her.
Mikage isn’t doing all that great academically and Hachiken continues to struggle with horse riding, though the two help each other help, strengthening their relationship.
Speaking of academics, the ever-haughty Ayame makes an appearance and isn’t exactly proving up to be a rival. Her tutor, Shingo, is still unable to bring her up to scratch-though her ego remains comically unbruised. Shingo also casually drops a news bombshell when catching up with his brother, though I won’t spoil it here.
The volume ends with the outcome of Mikage’ exams and Hachiken getting an unlikely call.
Once again I find myself revelling in the story and characters. Mangaka Hiromu Arakawa continues to make great use of the cast, giving relevance and time to much of them. The humour is also spot-on, taking some story beats like a big tournament and playing them in typical Silver Spoon fashion.
Throughout the manga Arakawa has made great use of a relatively simple setting and breathed life into it with their distinct art style and comedy gold with some of the facial expressions. After expertly balancing out such a large cast with FullMetal Alchemist, Silver Spoon feels more condensed but also enables the supporting cast to be fleshed out, a rarity with some stories out there.
Hachiken as a character has also been fascinating to follow – a perpetual worrier who always looks out for everyone but himself. His conflicts with those around him, though often played comedically, also take on a more serious tone where necessary, yet conflicts in this series are never overblown; if anything they’re handled akin to real life and are healed with discussion or giving space to breathe. It adds another layer of depth to the overall story and is another reason why Silver Spoon is something special.
Silver Spoon Volume 13 balances out tension and humour as the Equestrian Club make their way to the National Championship, Mikage tries to achieve her academic goals and there’s plenty of pizza to go around!
Volume 13 also marks the beginning of the end for the series, with only one volume left to review for the time being.