Silver Spoon Season 2
Despite his reservations about his own shortcomings, Yugo Hachiken continues to give his all to help his fellow students at Oezo (Ezono) Agricultural School- and to adjust to the life of the farmer. But what has his friend and would-be romantic interest Aki Mikage been hiding from him recently?
This season Yugo learns (always at some peril to himself) how to get a horse to jump, how to manage a school festival, how to train a puppy, and how to make cheese (the latter for the Buddha-like teacher Nakajima), and as usual we get a fascinating introduction to various aspects of animal management. This time, the early focus is on equestrian activities and competitions, since the girl Yugo wants to get to know better, Aki Mikage, loves horses and all aspects of riding. It's all delightful, but it's all really prelude to the "meat" of Season Two. As any really good continuing series should, the Second Season doesn't just rehash the first, but introduces some new complications, as well as finally addressing an issue obliquely referred to in Season One.
Yugo has always been a bit jealous of Aki's longtime friendship with her neighbor-from-home and fellow classmate Ichiro Komaba, and Yugo's distress is magnified by a serious of recent quiet conversations between Aki and Komaba that both parties clearly don't want Yugo to know the substance of. When he finally does find out, everyone's lives fall apart, and the repercussions of the matter ultimately create turmoil in three families, including Yugo's own. (Yes, we finally do meet Yugo's parents, and they're as different as night and day.)
I have to tread carefully here to avoid as much spoilage as possible, but some of the major scenes include: with the encouragement of another, one character finds voice to express their long-felt wish to stake out their own future; the troubles of a student lead Ezono's other students to some deep and somber reflection on their own futures (and how often do we EVER see teenagers in ANY show doing THAT?); and the suggestion is made to Yugo that he might simply be going to Ezono because he can "look down" on the other students. Certainly in a traditional academic school Yugo's gifts would be much less unusual- in fact, as he notes, he'd just be another fierce competitor for a very limited supply of rewards- while at Ezono his academic talents make him much in demand; on the other hand, throughout this series Yugo has freely given his time and talents again and again. In fact, this time some of the Ezono students have been warning him that he's being a little TOO self-sacrificing, and we might see their point illustrated in the course of events. But to me it would seem that giving to others is in no way impure just because it makes you feel better about yourself. I agree with Yugo that the person making this accusation is way off-base. It's an interesting philosophical issue though, and one of several that this series can handle with finesse just because its story and characters are so carefully crafted.
This season we've got a bouncy musical number at either end of the show (the opener is called "Life", while the closer is "Goose House"). The character art is still a mix of more realistic (Yugo himself) and more caricatured, though speaking of the latter I was impressed that Tamako is completely recognizable in either her usual "fat" or her occasional "thin" version; it's her perpetually haughty facial expression that does the trick. They've added a new character this season, a nouveau riche equestrian girl named Ayame Minamikujo who's incredibly conceited. She comes complete with the stereotypical female anime laugh (you know the one I'm talking about), and was the only character that completely failed to charm me in one way or another. (For the record, I would have also preferred that Aki had been given a less simplistic character design, but since she's supposed to be a "simple country girl" I'll let that pass.)
But any quibbles I may have with this show are dwarfed by its thoughtfulness, its believable dramatic situations, and its informative demonstrations of the farmer's life, and above all the fact that its teenagers (even the DUMB ones) are NOT idiots.
This is that rare anime series that parents can not only let their teenagers watch without fear, but might just want to watch themselves. PLEASE SEE IT! — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Fanservice? Look, these kids are in coveralls most of the time. Don't let the "bra" reference in the first episode fool you; there are NO panties, nudity, cosplay (or even bras-as-you-know-them, for that matter), and if you are looking for that sort of thing, look elsewhere. Some cows give birth, and that's about as sexy as it gets here. Yugo loses his temper and yells- and that's as violent as it gets. A very family-friendly show, though probably better appreciated by teenagers and up.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (11/11)
Silver Spoon Season 2 © 2014 Shogakukan/Ezono Festa Executive Committee
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