Yugo Hachiken is tired of people asking him about his dreams for the future. He may not know what he wants to be when he grows up, but he has the perfect plan to get ahead in school. Some kids break their backs trying to rise to the top of a tough institution, but Hachiken decides to enroll at a rural vocational and agricultural high school instead.At Hachiken's new school, the textbooks on real subjects like math and English are all magazine-thin, and his classmates are countrified rubes, most of them the kids of farmers themselves. Sure, the textbooks on animal husbandry and produce are doorstops, but that's just memorization, right? If everything goes according to plan, Hachiken will rocket effortlessly to the top of his class...There's just one teensy little problem; it hasn't dawned on Hachiken yet that, at an agricultural school, the main focus will be on agriculture...and he was raised in Sapporo and knows little to nothing about farming.Gin no Saji: Silver Spoon (銀の匙) is the newest manga from Hiromu Arakawa of Fullmetal Alchemist fame, and began its run in Shounen Sunday in the spring of 2011. It draws heavily on the author's childhood on a dairy farm in Hokkaido, and puts a new spin on the high school drama formula. (Just try to name another school-days manga in which the hero gets roped into helping chop off a chicken's head within the first chapter.)An anime adaptation by A-1 Picturesis being aired in Summer 2013, and a second season will air in Winter 2014. A live-action film will also be released in 2014.For a similar manga try Moyashimon.Is not to be confused with Silver Spoons.
Always Someone Better: Hachiken managed to get incredibly high scores on every one of his midterms, but in each of his classes somebody beat him with a perfect 100. However, because he was consistently high in every subject, he managed to be top of the class.
Anal Probing: The technical term when it comes to animals is "Insemination" or "Rectal Exam", and it's an important aspect of good livestock care. Hachiken was unfortunate enough to be picked to administer one, so to speak.
Anguished Declaration of Love: Played with when a blushing girl wants to talk to Hachiken outside of class. She wants to buy some bacon from him. Gets a callback with the formation of the Pork Fund, though this time, a more Genre Savvy Hachiken knows the score from the start.
Anti-Climax: Done deliberately in the "Memory of a Summer" side story (episode 5). Yugo's roommates engage in an epic, life-risking quest to sneak out of their dormitory at night and catch a glimpse of a mysterious entity spoken of only as "him". The story follows a dramatic "The Rest Shall Pass" pattern, leaving only Yugo and Nishikawa to witness the midnight arrival of...a combine harvester. Of course, anyone who had read even one chapter of this manga knew how all this would end. To rub it in, though, Tamako then reveals that her farm has several of these harvesters, meaning that the guys went through all that trouble for nothing.
Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance: It's a common saying in Japan to tell someone providing the sole source of aid in a time of need that, if there really is a Buddha, He would look just like that person. The advisor to the equestrian club, who's introduced saving Hachiken from the Holstein club, literally looks like the Buddha. He even prays for the injured while a halo appears behind him.
Later subverted. Though he is kind-hearted and often gives out sage advice, he's also a degenerate gambler who has a penchant for abusing the school's cheese-making resources for his own personal stash.
Nakajima-sensei: If cheese is at stake, I will become an Asura if I must!!
Bait and Switch: Hachiken sees three students in a dark corner, huddled over a magazine and discussing "curves"... the students were part of a club that breeds cows and were looking at the champion cows for last year. (One even yells out "Who needs women when you've got cows!?" as a closing remark while Hachiken declines to join them and leaves)
A troupe of scary-looking seniors shows up in Yugo's class, demanding some of his fresh-cured bacon. One of them even sneers, "We don't have any money, so you know what that means, right?" It means they resort to the barter system, exchanging other high quality farm products for the bacon.
Just before his turn in the riding competition, Hachiken is nervously telling himself to stay cool. Then, suddenly, he seems to snap, and raises his riding crop to whip his horse.... Only to smack it down on his own leg, admitting that he can't be cool at all, and entrust the outcome to Chestnut, his horse. Chestnut obliges.
Played for laughs in the first chapter, when a Beware Of Bears sign in the woods makes our hero so nervous that he mistakes an approaching horse for a bear.
Comes back in a later chapter when it's mentioned that bears are in the area, inspiring Aki's great-grandmother to tell a scary story about how a single bear killed several people in their area, back in the pioneer days.
Beautiful All AlongTamako loses a mountain of weight over the summer in chapter 22. Possibly a case of Chekhov's Gun, since there was earlier commentary on what a knockout she would be if you removed the fat from her face and frame.
She gains it all back in two chapters, though.
The special provides a rather interesting example: Toku is a woman with a Face of a Thug. Turns out, she is very near-sighted and has to squint. She is revealed to be very beautiful, once she putson glasses.
Big Game: Can the Ooezo High baseball team make it to the Koshien finals with talented freshman pitcher Komaba on the mound? Unfortunately, no. Not this year, anyway.
Big Eater: Justified. Everyone at Ooezo High puts away food at a rate which would make a short-order cook sweat, but since all the characters are growing teenagers with extremely physical lifestyles (farm work and mandatory sports being the tip of the iceberg), it isn't that strange. The owners of the food stalls at the local festival apparently consider feeding the Ooezo High students their greatest challenge, and treat it with due amounts of ham.
Genius Ditz: But when it comes to practical farming subjects like Animal Husbandry and Produce, he excels.
Butt Monkey: Keiji. He tends to get extra mandatory labor sentences, a school punishment worse (in the short term) than suspension. Most infamously, he mistakenly spread a rumor that Hachiken had gotten Mayumi pregnant after overhearing them discussing responsibilities (they were really talking about "taking responsibility" for a pig).
Call Back: A racy pillow Nishikawa bought in Tokyo over the summer break returns in A Memory of Summer, being used to prop up a shirt for some reason.
Call to Agriculture: Despite his obvious genius and potential to choose any of several life paths, Hachiken seems to be hearing the call more and more as the series goes on. It's good news for Aki's female relatives, anyway!
Combination Attack: The epic asskicking delivered by Ichiro, Aikawa, and Nishikawa to a watermelon thief. On second thought, only Aikawa did the actual asskicking...the other two used more devastating attacks.
Keiji was later the rightful recipient of another combo, attacked by almost all the girls in their class to allow Yugo and Aki to go on their "date" unmolested.
Computer Equals Monitor: A variant of this with a cellphone is subverted when Yugo breaks Shingo's cellphone in half at the hinge. Yugo wanted to keep him from sending an embarrassing photo to their mother, but Shingo isn't too worried because the part the memory was stored in wasn't damaged. Then Ayame's horse shatters the thing to bits.
Continuity Nod: The crack on the left lens of Yugo's glasses, acquired during his fall in the competition.
There's a competition in the festival called the "Escape From the Dorms Race".
Down to the Last Play: It's the Big Game, and Ooezo High is up against the local champions for the chance to go on to the finals! Bottom of the ninth! Bases loaded! The toughest batter on the team is at the plate! And freshman wunderkind Komaba is pitching! The batter gets a hit on the first pitch and wins the game, shattering Ooezo's chances and Komaba's self-esteem.
Drill Sergeant Nasty: The man in charge of the rotation Hachiken is on gives Hachiken this impression (the man isn't that terrible, but Hachiken has a few dramatic Imagine Spots...). His jacket having a camo-pattern probably doesn't help Hachiken's opinion of him.
Deconstructed for laughs in chapter 46. The junior students of equestrian club ask an upperclassman for advice for their upcoming match. He ends up giving them a sadistic lecture which amounts to how they'll be useless without their horses. Naturally, they end up having a collective Heroic BSOD. Their club adviser manages to salvage the situation with a few kind words. Later reconstructed when the lecture's contents are what Hachiken needs to be able to compete.
Elaborate University High: Less egregious than most examples, considering the curriculum, and a few lampshades are hung, but still, a high school with a fully equipped genetics lab?
Everyone Can See It: Yugo and Aki's mutual feelings aren't exactly a secret around school, or anywhere else for that matter. They do seem to realize it themselves (Yugo at least), but there is the issue of Aki's dad.
Expo Speak Gag: Shinichiro goes off on one of these to Hachiken about additives when Hachiken notices the smoked chicken Shinichiro gave him tastes different.
Food Porn: When the pizza is completed...dear GOD!
In the author's extra manga about the drawing process, she mentions that the assistant who is in charge of drawing the food in the manga pretty much deprives herself of food during drawing sessions, so as to make the food look more delicious on paper. It's kind of like drawing pretty girls when you're single (according to the author).
In chapter 23, Komaba scolds Tokiwa telling him he may not be able to graduate, and then Hachiken reassures him, saying he'll help Tokiwa so they can all graduate together. Heartbreaking when you realize that it's actually Komaba that won't be able to graduate, not Tokiwa.
From Bad to Worse: Hachiken really found walking up at five in the morning every day for his rotation's week that month to be uncomfortable. Then he found out he had to join a club, so he joined the equestrian club because he's not a sports person, and then learned the club would have to wake up at four in the morning daily to care for the horses.
One favour owed by Hachiken eventually turned into many down the road, which were all called in at the same time before the Cultural Festival.
Funny Background Event: Tamako. In chapter 2, Tamako pulls a surprising jump in her ping-pong match. Later in that chapter, despite being so overweight her body-shape is compared to an egg, she is shown being being blown away into the wind while holding onto a canvas everyone is trying to tie down lampshaded by Tokiwa). Three chapters later she's seen entering a bet at the horse races. She's also seen eating in every stall during the summer festival, and chomped on a whole slab of bacon belonging to Hachiken without him noticing.
In chapter 52, while Nishikawa talks with Hachiken about where he should go for his date, the 2D girls in the Dating Sim he's playing actually say lines that match the conversation.
Genre Savvy: In chapter 11, Yugo proves that he can be quite savvy when he feels like it!
Aki: Well, if you don't have anywhere to go, why don't you come stay at my place? My parents are both going to be gone.
Yugo: "Stay at my place? Parents both gone?" [strikes poses of joy...then pauses] And later I'm supposed to discover the twist that your grand-parents will be there or something, right?!
Aki: [puzzled] Yeah, they'll be there.
Yugo: [thinks] Alright! Unnecessary shock evaded! I'm getting the hang of this!
Yugo also manages to correctly guess that Komaba might try to pack his things and leave the school while everyone is in class, to avoid a fuss, and fakes an illness to get out of class and confront him.
Goal in Life: Hachiken feels like the only student who doesn't have one.
Gonk: Tamako, though subverted with a tasteful touch of She Cleans Up Nicely — the boys are shocked to realize that if you ignore her weight, Tamako is gorgeous.
Put simply, Tamako has an egg-shaped body but the face of a super-model. And now, after returning to school and losing her weight... HOT DAMN.
She promptly regains it again. It was nice while it lasted.
Groin Attack: Early in the anime's first episode, Hachiken gets one from the calf.
Heroic BSOD: Aki had one when she heard rumours of Yugo×Mayumi. Also when she mistakes a classmate's interest in buying some bacon from Hachiken for a love confession.
A different sort of BSOD hit Aki when she was introduced to Nishikawa's artistic handiwork.
Yugo had one when he saw chickens getting beheaded. At least he didn't faint like Aikawa.
Also happened to Yugo when Aki told him her problems were none of his business.
A more serious one happened when Yugo failed at jumping the obstacles in riding practice, while the other students were able to do it easily. It hit Yugo especially hard because it reminded him of his failures in middle school, and he got so desperate that Aki had to snap him out of it.
Nakajima-sensei after Yoshino plundered his cheese stash for prizes in draft race during autumn festival.
And Tokiwa misinterpreting Hachiken's declaration to take responsibility for what he did to Yoshino (during a discussion of how the drama over his pet pig had ruined her taste for pork) got way out of hand.
Insult to Rocks: It is pointed out to Mikage and Yugo that, as a percentage of their total body mass, pigs have less fat (15%) than humans (10-20% for men, 20-30% for women), which makes Yugo sadly realize that when he called one of his teammates a pig he was insulting pigs.
Lonely at the Top: Hachiken becomes top of the class at midterms, quite early on (his stated reason for being in a rural High School is so that he could do this easily), but says he feels no satisfaction in it.
Moment Killer: Almost averted when the girls prevented Keiji from becoming a third leg on Aki and Yugo's "date" at the shrine. Unfortunately, the rest of the Equestrian Club didn't seem to have gotten the message.
Played utterly straight when Aki's accidental Love Confession is cut off short by an upperclassman barging into the barn.
Played for laughs on Hachiken. When he attempts to tell Aki how he feels, both his upperclassmen stop him by suplexing him into the snow.
Mood Whiplash: So. Freaking. Much. Typically, almost every funny or heartwarming moment involving animals is followed by a discussion about killing or butchering them.
In "Autumn 21", just when Hachiken finally catches a break by making a date with Mikage, he passes out from overworked exhaustion.
Chapter 63 (Autumn 32). A lighthearted reflection of the past 6 months is broken by the revelation of Komaba's family going bankrupt.
At a summer festival, the concession-booth proprietors and the students taunt each other over who will triumph this year, followed by a page that shows both sides jumping at each other in poses that would be fit for an action comic.
Also Tokiwa, after he "got a good score" on his math test in chapter 3 - except the score was still terrible, just better than he'd ever done in his life.
Older than They Look: Tamako's mother. To the point that Yūgo and Aki mistake her for Tamako's sister.
And apparently, Alexandra (Yugo's sister-in-law) given the fact that she remembers the fall of the Soviet Union...
Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: Tokiwa overhears Hachiken and Yoshino talking about "taking responsibility" and starts a rumor about them having a sexual relationship. They were talking about raising a pig.
Overprotective Dad: Aki's father does not approve of Hachiken, and does not want him taking his little girl away.
In chapter 63, Hachiken starts to understand what Aki's father meant after being asked to name a female calf he helped deliver.
Punny Name: Tamako, whose name sounds like "tamago" (egg).
Raging Stiffie: Implied when Hachiken and his roommates are in the bath and contemplate the girls' bath being directly above them. The next group of bathers yells at them to leave, but Hachiken's group refuses to stand up out of the water.
Reality Subtext: One of the chapters had a cow giving birth when Hiromu Arawaka recently had a child. Her author avatar is a cow with glasses.
Real Place Background: Ooezo High is based on a real school, and there are enough clues all over the manga (starting from Chapter 1) to figure out where all this is happening.
Relax-o-Vision: In chapter 87, after Nishikawa tricked Okawa to try a potentially lethal pot of borscht which the other students in the dormitory were hesitant to do so because they were unsure whether it was cooked by Hachiken's brother or his wife Alexandra, the next panel was blacked out with an icon of a pig head adorning the middle. And then it is revealed the borscht was indeed lethal, with Okawa passed out over a bench!
Running Gag: Whenever someone uses a large unit of measurement (such as hectares), Hachiken will ask how many Sapporo Domes that is. They won't know, but will hazard an answer that doesn't really help Hachiken.
Various characters wondering if someone is "Speaking in Tongues" when overhearing conversations that take place outside their expertise such as Hachiken not understanding farmers talking about college level biotechnology.
Apparently, Crab Fishing is a great way to make money.
After he starts tutoring Aki, Hachiken gets abused by jealous boys whenever he offhandedly brings it up.
Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Ayame goes about this when she buys luck charms at a local mountain shrine. When she means she'll take one, she literally means she'll take one entire box.
Settling the Frontier: Discussed — Mikage's great-grandmother tells stories of the time when the Japanese settled Hokkaido. Wild animals (bears) and natives (Ainu) appear.
Serious Business: Pizza. Most of the students, being from farm families, have always been out of pizza delivery range, and only ever had pizza maybe once or twice, if at all (deliveries to the school are also forbidden). So when Hachiken finds a brick oven, he spends days researching everything needed to make pizza, and goes all over the school looking for ingredients. He eventually gets the entire school involved in his pizza party schemes.
And sometime after that, establishing who gets final authority over the oven (and future pizza-making) turns quickly into a heated argument between members of the different courses in school.
Shipper on Deck: Aki's mother seems to have found a potential son-in-law in Yugo. Her father, on the other hand, loudly declares his disapproval at every opportunity.
Mika Toyonishi of the Equestrian Club boards the Yugo × Aki ship right after summer vacation. Eventually joined by most of the girls in their social circle. They even tackled (or more precisely, physically assaulted) Keiji when he's about to ruin their first date.
Most of Aki's and Yugo's friends have practically boarded the Yugo x Aki ship, actively trying to get them together, though both of them are rather clueless of their friends' efforts and motives. Witness the girls' "mission" to deliver Aki's Valentine's Day chocolate to Yugo.
The Simple Life Is Simple: What drove Hachiken to sign up. Eh...no. The manga, in fact, gives an insight into the enormous breadth of knowledge and physical endurance necessary, even in a modern, mechanised farm setting.
Stepping Out for a Quick Cup of Coffee: After having tasted everything else grown on the Mikage farm fresh, Yugo asks to try fresh milk. Grandpa Mikage pointedly tells Yugo that it is forbidden to sell unpasteurized dairy products, after which he happens to mention that if someone were to sneak a sip from the bulk cooler while he... steps outside... he can hardly be held responsible.
In the backstory special, "Hachi" is a near carbon copy of Hachiken.
Southern Fried Genius: Despite the Ooezo High students' country bumpkin background and typically poor performance in traditional academics, many of them are prone to going into lengthy, university-level discussions on such subjects as the mechanical specs of farm equipment, food processing chemistry, and biotechnology.
Tears of Blood: Played for laughs, when Hachiken cries these over Shingo's cavalier attitude towards education.
Title Drop: In chapter 2. However, we aren't told what the silver spoon in the cafeteria stands for until chapter 63. In the anime, it's explained in the same scene it shows up in.
That late drop was quite dramatic in the manga, especially when contrasted with the news of the Komaba Ranch's bankruptcy a few scenes later.
This Is Reality: A horse-handler rather loudly laughs at Komaba and Hachiken for thinking he or anyone else could perfectly understand a member of another species outside of a work of fantasy.
Amusingly, the horse is also laughing at Komaba and Hachiken with the handler.
Through Their Stomachs: A non-romantic example by the school, which hosts a wrap-party barbecue whenever the entire class has completed a hard task. Hachiken even commented early on that food was the only thing he was looking forward to in Ooezo Agricultural High.
Tragic Dropout: Ichiro Komaba. By the time the other students learn that his continued education is/was riding on their school's continued baseball victories, they've already lost.
Underdogs Never Lose: Heartbreakingly subverted when the Ooezo High baseball team blazes their way through the qualifying matches for the Koshien, only to lose their match against the local champions by one run and fall just short of going to Sapporo for the Big Game.
Proceeds to become heart-shattering when it's revealed that their loss also indirectly cost Komaba's family their farm, by damaging his odds of succeeding as a professional player at exactly the wrong moment.
Chapter 63. We learn why Komaba hasn't come back — his family has gone bankrupt.
Walking the Earth: Parodied with Yugo's older brother Shingo, who believes that the ramen chef he was apprenticed to sent him on a journey to do this until he found the perfect ramen ingredients, when in actuality he fired him.
Write What You Know: The mangaka, Hiromu Arakawa, was born and raised on a dairy farm in Hokkaido.
The special backstory chapter provides examples of:
The Glasses Gotta Go: Inverted for Toku, whose frightening expression turns out to be nothing more than a severely nearsighted squint. When "Hachi" lends her his glasses, her face relaxes and she turns out to have beautiful eyes.
Great Escape: "Hachi" apparently effected one before the events of the chapter.
Samurai Cowboy: The story centers on the lives of the actualSamurai Cowboys (and cowgirls) of historical Hokkaido. After the conflicts that began the Meiji period, many samurai families were driven north to the province of Hokkaido, where they began new lives as farmer pioneers (with alltheattendanttropes...including an unfortunate fate for the native Ainu tribes).