By Hiromu Arakawa. Released in Japan as “Gin no Saji” by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Sunday. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Amanda Haley.
Summer still takes up the first half of this book, but then it’s time to go back to school for the new semester. And Hachiken is still very much learning as he goes. He’s gotten used to the early hours and strength needed, and in fact (once again) has to be reminded to take it easy on occasion. But there’s still stuff he has to experience, like the taste of raw milk, as well as things he has to feel responsible for, like the loss of a lot of that raw milk due to a mistake he made. I use the phrase “overly serious” a lot when I’m talking about Hachiken, and while (as I said last time) he is a very realistic, well-rounded person, it is his most defining trait. In that sense, as you’d expect, he matches well with Mikage, who loves horses and wants a career in horses, but when you’re the farm’s sole heir that’s not really an option.
At the Mikage farm, we get more insight into cow births, and some wackiness involving the local prefecture’s cows getting mixed up with the farm’s. The main plot twist here, though, is the arrival of Hachiken’s brother. I love the fact that you can tell that Shingo and his brother are completely different and yet clearly were raised by the exact same family. They each deal with their father in different ways. Unfortunately for Hachiken (but fortunately for those who love Arakawa’s comedy), this means Shingo is a bit of a flake, having dropped out of Tokyo U once he got in to pursue his dreams of becoming a ramen chef. Except he’s terrible at cooking. Shingo’s presence basically serves to give us a bit more information about Hachiken’s home life without having to see him go back home, and it’s clear Shingo cares and worries about his brother in his own way.
When we get back to school, there’s an even better joke, as Tanako suffered from heat stroke over the summer and has come to school having lost all of her weight. The wonderful thing about the joke is that Tamako literally gives not one shit about this, and the first chance she gets she’s bulked right back up. Tamako knows her own gorgeousness. As for Hachiken, he’s still dealing with the piglet he named last time, who has now grown up to be a big pig – and is ready to be slaughtered. It’s impressive that everyone treats Hachiken’s angst about the pig seriously, and no one makes fun of it at all – they’ve all been there when they were younger. Hachiken’s solution, meanwhile, feels very much like something he would do. (There’s also another wacky subplot where the school things Hachiken has gotten Yoshino pregnant = which mostly serves to remind us that Tokiwa is the Mineta of this series.
I hate to keep banging the drum here (that’s a lie, I love to bang this particular drum), but every volume of Silver Spoon reminds me why we were begging for years for its license. Read this, you won’t regret it.