Since he doesn't want to return home, his teacher refers Yugo Hachiken to a high school with dormitories- Oezo (Ezono) Agricultural School. But can a nerd from the city fit in with a class of Future Farmers of Japan?
It's been quite a while since I've gotten to see a show that tackled so many issues of coming to terms with life in such a (usually) serious manner (though there's plenty of comedy here too.) Our hero, Yugo, is initially very much a Fish Out Of Water in this Ag school. The 11 episodes of Season One chronicle some major changes in the way he views the world- and also in the way he's seen by others.
First, and perhaps most of all, we see him progress from initial city-boy squeamishness (he freaks out when he discovers exactly where eggs come out of the chickens), through stages to the point where he's able to even cope with some of the grimmer aspects of animal husbandry. There was a best-selling book not so long ago whose title (and theme) neatly summarizes the source of Yugo's agonized ambivalence- The Omnivore's Dilemma. How can you eat something that you've developed feelings for? It was fascinating to see how (and IF) Yugo could work through the Dilemma for himself.
Another major plotline concerns Yugo's self-perceived lack of a goal compared to his classmates. Yugo's older brother is a ne'er-do-well, and apparently their parents expect Yugo to disappoint them as well- something Yugo constantly fears doing. For he's entered this school with no ambitions for a career in agriculture, and hates his own lack of dreams or plans, especially since his classmates all seem to have their futures planned- typically as heirs to their family farms.
But Yugo discovers that not being locked into a future can give one a lot of freedom, and he is a VERY bright fellow, and an incredible synergy grows between him and his classmates- his creativity and energy can inspire them to help make some impressive cooperative projects happen, and the success of those projects may help Yugo develop some self-esteem after all.
Since this is a show about teenagers, is there romance as well? Perhaps some will grow out of Yugo's friendship with one Aki Mikage, though Yugo quickly learns that another male classmate of his is a childhood friend and neighbor of Aki, and so seems to have an edge with her. For her part, Aki doesn't make her own feelings obvious most of the time.
Finally, there's also a little here (just a little, yet) implying that at least one of those kids expected to inherit the farm is really not that crazy about the idea.
Turning to other aspects of the show, the main comic reliefs are: Keiji Tokiwa, a rather stupid (which he readily admits) little guy with occasional bouts of phenomenally bad judgment; and Tamako Inada, a girl who's rather grossly obese, though her weight does fluctuate a bit from time to time. (OK, that's an understatement.) These two are drawn in a caricatured style, as are a few of the other characters in the cast (the character design of the principal is a hoot.) On the other hand, the animals are rendered pretty realistically, and the show provides a wealth of factual information about farm animals and their management, and includes the Disclaimer, to warn the audience that animals often carry diseases. (Whether small children should see this show at all is a question I'll defer to the Audience section.) The show is honest enough to note that some of the "factory farming" techniques shown are criticized in the West.
The opening and closing themes are pleasant J-pop. The show's licensee didn't follow the standard practice of providing English translations for the song lyrics, which I thought rather inconsiderate.
In sum, it's a show which deals with both the usual coming-of-age issues and with some unique ones as well, and where the comedy is subordinate to the serious drama (well, except for Episode 5, but I'll let that pass.) It might turn you vegan, though. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: No sex or sexuality here; in fact, even the rumor of such liaisons provokes outrage in THIS school (and supplies a hilarious scene.) But the violence makes this a no-no for small children, even if it IS really what happens to farm animals, and even if it IS sometimes optically censored.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (11/11)
Silver Spoon © 2013 Hiromu Arakawa, Shogakukan/Ezono Festa Executive Committee
|© 1998-2013 THEM Anime Reviews. All rights reserved.|