Before she became the mangaka of the hit fantasy series Fullmetal Alchemist, Hiromu Arakawa was a dairy farm girl. Now she brings those country experiences into her series Silver Spoon. Read on for the review of Volume 4. (Reviews of other volumes are available here.)
Back Cover Blurb
To take a life. Hachiken will learn how important these words are when raising and living alongside farm animals. As the seasons change and summer becomes fall, he will see what the weight of a life is.
The Pork Bowl arc finally comes to a conclusion—and it’s not a Charlotte’s Web ending. Personally, I prefer it this way. Perhaps Hachiken does agonize overmuch about how farm animals are born just to be slaughtered, but I enjoy his blunt honesty in admitting he can’t go vegetarian became meat is too tasty. Plus, city-slickers like me get to learn and appreciate how much work goes into processing meat as Hachiken turns 50 kilos of Pork Bowl into bacon with his own hands. And just as the pizza party drew the attention (and appetites) of Hachiken’s schoolmates, the smoking of Pork Bowl also brings a crowd. If you enjoy scenes of people feasting, you’re in for a treat. The fun thing is that the impact of Pork Bowl’s bacon goes beyond one day, and the myriad outcomes of having meat at an ag school are a riot.
Having laid Pork Bowl to rest, Silver Spoon wraps up the summer with a two-chapter comedy adventure. It’s a parody mashup of UFO, jailbreak, and war film tropes, but Nishikawa and the other farm boys take their “mission” so seriously that it actually works. It’s a bit strange that they’re so insistent that Hachiken come along, but the mystery of what’s in “Area 51” will keep readers engaged.
Next, autumn gets going in earnest, with third years retiring from clubs, regional baseball playoffs, and preparations for the Ezo Ag Festival. A new season wouldn’t be complete without a new thing for our protagonist to stress over, and Arakawa-sensei delivers it in the form of the vice-presidency of the Equestrian Club and a strange, secretive vibe between Mikage and Komaba. As such, Hachiken has an external challenge to live up to (similar to the pizza party) while his brain goes into overdrive about whether Mikage means more than a friend to him. The latter element might be a common one in high school series, but Arakawa-sensei does a wonderful job putting an ag school comic spin on it.
By the way, for those familiar with the anime, the manga covers the same general territory with minor variations. For this volume, the most prominent difference is the timing of the Area 51 adventure. (In the anime, it took place before summer break).
Extras include story thus far, character profiles, bonus manga, a preview for the next issue, and translation notes.
Overall, this is a fun, well-balanced volume. Vegans probably won’t appreciate Pork Bowl getting turned into bacon, but others will find the popularity Hachiken attains as the owner of 50 kilos of meat hilarious. Then after a UFO sighting/jailbreak parody interlude where Hachiken gets dragged to Ezo’s Area 51, he’s confronted with new club responsibilities and growing feelings for Mikage, all of which lay the groundwork for fresh drama in our next season of high school.
First published at The Fandom Post.