Silver Spoon, Vol. 10

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.

It has to be said, the love story in Silver Spoon can sometimes be frustrating. Not so much on the Hachiken/Mikage end, as I’m perfectly content with these two to slowly make their way into a relationship. It’s more the reaction of the rest of the students. There are not any noticeable “beta couples” in this series, which is not primarily a romantic comedy in any case, so what you end up having is a bunch of teenage farm kids watching their friends be adorable AND oblivious at the same time. They want to be happy deep down, I’m sure. But in reality… they’re pissed. And you get the sense the author is as well. So for every cute, heartwarming moment, such as Mikage’s New Year’s text, you get the inevitable crushing of it – literally, in this case, as Hachiken’s phone is destroyed via horse and via the obnoxious Ookawa. Fortunately, the rest of the book devotes itself to Ookawa’s downfall (honestly, the series as a whole also does this).

One of Silver Spoon’s general themes is that this may be shonen manga but things are not always magically going to work out. Mikage is studying now, but her grades aren’t suddenly terrific. The kids make sausage (which takes up a third of the book – again, Silver Spoon is a farming manga) but a lot of it is misshapen and weird. And then there’s Komaba, who lurks around the edges of this volume. He’s not back at school, but he is doing about eight jobs a day in order to earn money to pay back debt. As a result, he runs into Hachiken over the holidays, and then is lured into showing up at the Winter Festival. Sometimes we can’t achieve our dreams, and reality ensues. That’s certainly what happened to Komaba, and it sucks. But when you don’t achieve your dreams, that does not really mean you give up and resolve to never have fun or see your old friends again ever. This lesson he still needs to learn.

Speaking of lessons, Hachiken and Mikage might want to look over at his brother, who met a Russian girl and married her almost immediately. As always, the brothers end up being completely different. We meet said wife, Alexandra, towards the end of the book. That said, their relationship is glossed over and we get a whole bunch of Russia jokes instead. A lot of these are well-researched and amusing, but it does sort of remind me of the old 80s sitcoms where Yakov Smirnoff was the guest star. The “Silver Spoon” joke in particular is hilarious but also tremendously cliched. Still, it’s nice to see that she likes Hachiken, and I’m glad we get to see an actual functional couple, even if Hachiken’s brother still can’t cook to save his life. (Or Ookawa’s life. RIP, death by borscht.)

The next volume promises to lean a bit harder on the romance, as it’s Valentine’s day. Will we get a kiss? Don’t count on it. But do expect more of these lovable and frustrating farming goofballs.

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