Silver Spoon, Vol. 13

By Hiromu Arakawa. Released in Japan as “Gin no Saji” by Shogakukan, serialized in the magazine Weekly Shonen Sunday. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Amanda Haley.

There’s always a careful balancing act that an author has to keep up when writing a character whose failures are hilarious. On the one hand, you can’t overegg the pudding – you need to contrast this hilarity with moments where they actually succeed. If done right, this can be extremely heartwarming. The first half of the manga deals with the equestrian competition, with Hachiken actually competing this time, and his “slow, steady and have fun” approach actually does pretty well, especially as it allows Mikage to dazzle. And of course the beauty of it is that it sets things up for the much larger stage where Hachiken again competes… and fails so badly that it turns into 20 pages of “lol”. You feel bad for him, but thinking as an author, the reason for this is obvious: Hachiken when he’s suffering is very, very funny. What’s more, there’s been less and less of that as he’s matured, so it’s nice to see he can still be a national laughingstock when appropriate.

Speaking of which, Hachiken, in his despair after doing so badly, wonders if Mikage won’t love him as he’s bad at horse racing. This is a callback to earlier in the book, when Mikage smiles as she recalls him saying he’ll ask her out after she passes her exams… then realizes that might mean if she fails, he won’t ask her out! Does he hate “stupid” girls? Now that the two of them have made it clear how they feel about each other, all that’s left is to actually get together. But it’s not as simple as that – they have goals to achieve first, Mikage’s father is watching Hachiken like a hawk, and his own father just seems to get in the way of any romantic resolution. What’s more, as the above jokes indicate, the two of them are still too insecure for a strong romantic relationship to happen. Mikage doesn’t need to pass her exams to date Hachiken – but it certainly would help her see herself as a success.

Elsewhere in the book, it’s pigs and pizza once again. I like the idea that the head of the school is willing to go the extra mile for these kids provided they can actually justify it as learning things and being educational. As a result – more pizza ovens! Which leads to a good competition where they try out various kinds of three-cheese pizza to see which one proves the most popular. Likewise, even in the midst of despair at his equestrian performance, he’s still able to do some pig research while in a different area of Japan (sadly, he finds that the pigs raised there would not do well in the northern climes of his school.) And, for once, there’s not even any long series of chapters devoted to butchering and slaughtering animals, so even the squeamish can enjoy this one.

We’re nearing the finish line for Silver Spoon, and I expect the next volume to mostly be about Mikage passing (or not) her exams. Will that also lead to romance? God, I hope so. I feel like Sakae – Just do it already!

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

Speak Your Mind