Gin no Saji Second Season – 02

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Well, you have to admit he’s a lot cuter than Dick Cheney.

It’s quite remarkable how little attention this series gets in English-language forums.  I get very few comments at either place I cover it, and it seems to have a relatively tiny following in places like ASF and MAL.  I wonder if this series isn’t punished to a certain extend for being too consistent, too solid and to  straight-up with its audience – maybe anime fans have come to expect a certain level of bullshit and it just doesn’t feel like anime to them if they don’t get it.

If anything characterizes Gin no Saji for me it’s that lack of BS, and the fact the series just rarely seems to put a foot wrong.  And that hasn’t changed a whit this season, which has gently eased us back into the world of Ezonoo without missing a beat.  Along the way we’re seeing subtle development for the cast, most especially Hachiken.  And a few seeds that have been planted along the side of the road as we’ve journeyed through 12 episodes are starting to bear fruit.

I think what we’re seeing with Hachiken is a kind of exponential expansion of the friendzone cliche to its logical conclusion.  Simply put, I think Hachiken has been friendzoned by life – though ironically it’s Mikage who’s the one that puts that into words.  As I said last week, being known as “the guy who can’t say no” is not a tag you want hanging around your neck for life (it’s much worse than “snack fees”).  He has a little bit of a martyr complex – Mikage frames it in a positive light, deducing that Hachi-kun has been denied so much in life by his father that he can’t say no when he sees anyone else being denied something.  And make no mistake, this is not all a bad thing – Hachiken is a genuinely nice guy, and extraordinarily empathetic.  And the kind of guy you’d love to have for a friend, brother, son or co-worker – except my guess is that if you’re like most people, you’d find yourself taking advantage of his kindness sooner or later without realizing you were doing it.

It’s not every day we see a character for whom the phrase “he really needs to be more selfish” is more perfectly suited.  The trick, or course, is to learn to do that without losing the essence of why he’s such a good guy in the first place – I think that’s the message his brother was trying to communicate to him last season.  The latest example is the stray puppy Hachiken finds during the campus clean-up (and with a campus this huge, it’s quite a job).  He does exactly what a nice person should do – he takes the dog back to school where it can be cleaned up and fed.  And he does what any good-hearted kid would do – yearns to keep it.  But that’s not enough for Hachiken – he insists that he be the one to pay for everything.  Shots, food, license, you name it.  It’s only when Tokiwa comes up with the idea of hanging the aforementioned tag around the dog’s neck – with a bamboo donations can – that financial assistance starts to flow in.

The dog is yet another ridiculously cute addition to the cast (though I still say Porkbowl was cuter).  He ends up a resident of the stables, with his own house, and earns the name “Fukubucho” – Vice-president – which leads to some hilarious dialogue when Hachi-kun finds himself getting a bit jealous of all the attention the pup has stolen from him, along with his title (the culmination here is when Mikage scolds Fukubucho for peeing inappropriately).  Indeed, this is one of the many examples in the episode of how Silver Spoon is peerless at segueing from drama to comedy without missing a beat, and this is one of the funniest episodes of the series.  The stuff with the veterinarian and the bovine rectal exam is especially golden, from the reactions of the students when their teacher asks them how they’d like an amateur sticking his arm up their buttholes, to Hachiken facing the vet after he’s injured trying to save Komaba (needlessly) from a falling cow.  Martyr syndrome, indeed.

This show is so effortless, so sure of itself, so jouzu – that Japanese word again that communicates so much but doesn’t translate well into English.  The way the comedy, the slice-of-life and the character lessons are woven together should be studied in anime production classes for years to come.  I loved the bit where Hachiken decided to train Fukubucho, because it combined all these elements.  It showed us the other side of Hachiken, the one that he tries to hide – the insanely competitive side.  It was very funny, and it ambled through its paces without any hurry to get where it was going.  It was a little microcosm of what makes Gin no Saji such a special series, and why I never worry about where the series is headed – it has complete confidence in itself and that’s a confidence I share, and I’m happy to follow its lead wherever it chooses to take me.

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  1. i

    Yes, I agree that Gin no Saji is great and has not missed a step in it's greatness. Only complaint is that some early mid season episode in season 1 were too much comedy and it the episodes were not the greatest. I like your point of "The way the comedy, the slice-of-life and the character lessons are woven together" because it is so true.

  2. e

    Aw Hachiken (also Pet beetles. Pet.Beetles ) :,>. Now you have a cute pup to share your pain and succesfully bestowe your teaching skills at last :,D.
    Rec palp is too much of a humour occasion to pass I guess. It was on Moyashimon as well – and yes if I remember correctly the MC did ended up sticking it up a real cow there. Yet that kind of manure is just digested grass so really it could be much worse guys X,D – . Still it worked. But remember darlings a day will come when you have to surrender your rear to the human rec palp doc at least/anyway :ppppp.

    The chicken bit so reminded me of my grandma's dissecting prowess :,D. Also that horse is a riot.

    'the kind of guy you'd love to have for a friend, brother, son or co-worker' life partner material however you slice it. Now, where can we order/adopt/*insert suitable verb here* one? Hachicchi come to mama :,D

    It is a bit weird GnS it gets few comments but as long as it gets enough of a following where it counts for its – and its author – survival I'm fine with it.

  3. 460K worth of following in the first week for the latest volume. Manga, at least, is still an medium with a paying audience that's receptive to this sort of work.

  4. I

    "[…] maybe anime fans have come to expect a certain level of bullshit and it just doesn't feel like anime to them if they don't get it."

    I'm guilty of this. Silver Spoon is a show I want to want to like, and I'm sure it's very good; but I'm so used to anime stimulating my curiosity with some kind of fantasticity at some level that something this grounded bores me to tears. It's not you Silver Spoon, it's me; I just can't figure out how to make our time together enjoyable.

    The first episode or two was interesting; being homeschooled in Pennsylvania our family connected with several farming families when I was growing up, which was a pretty big lifestyle shock–Silver Spoon took me back to that for a bit and taught me a few things. But I didn't stick around long enough for the story to hook me, I guess.

    For pretty much anything else I've seen there's at least one thing that flips my curiosity switch to engaged, but with this I don't see anything to really be curious about.

    /scratches head

    I'll give the first season another shot down the road. It's probably just a presupposition problem and I just need to push myself far enough into it to make connections.

  5. G

    This show has no fan service. There fore no buzz. I hate random fan service in shows that should not have it (like Yokozuna Quartet).

    Who the hell is just throwing all that trash on the school grounds like that? They said it was cleaned up recently too.

  6. S

    You'd be surprised at how much trash there is sometimes in Japan overall. It usually builds up near bulkheads in drainage areas near rice fields and street corners. I've rarely seen generic trash in the fields as depicted but its still there.

  7. B

    No fan service? What about all of the cute animals and food porn? My god, this manga and anime make me hungry.

  8. K

    I absolutely love Silver Spoon but then I love Arakawa's brand of humor and character development. I admit I am not quite as fond of it as Fullmetal Alchemist but then not much of anything tops Fullmetal Alchemist for me.

  9. G

    FMA:B is one of the best series ever made. Only topped by HxH (currently airing).

  10. K

    Well I actually meant the manga more so than the anime as I was a huge fan of it well before Brotherhood was made. Started reading it around the same time I started the first FMA series in 2004.

  11. Z

    I disagree with FMA:B both being the best series ever made, as well as being Arakawa's best series.

    In my opinion Arakawa's brand of humour works better in a series like Gin no Saji than it does in FMA:B. Serious situations are played too much for laughs in FMA:B and aspects of the plot are far too contrived (I couldn't believe how many time I rolled my eyes whenever something "convenient" happened in FMA:B. Gin no Saji however flows naturally and organically and the humour slots in better since the stakes are so much lower.

  12. t

    I think it's wrong to compare between FMAB (or the manga FMA) and silver spoon. it's true that both from the same artist (Awakawa) and has similarities in art and comic touch. but other than that, both are different genres. FMAB is adventure and all while silver spoon is SoL and comedy. thus, indeed, silver spoon comedy works much stronger, while in FMAB you have other parts like mystery, action…it's different. both are developing quite different sides.

    I love them both and I think both in their own genre are on top. but comparing between the two…won't work. FMAB has its own magic in its own realm and so as silver spoon.

  13. Z

    Action yes but take mystery out. There's little mystery in FMA:B.

  14. t

    well, you're right, it's not pure mystery. but there is a little. like every adventure story. some has more, some has less (applies to arcs too)…in FMA:B it was what it was, but exist indeed.
    and the combination with adventure-action (yes, plus little mystery) is different than the on-going SoL (call it life-adventure if you wish, that works too) in story development and execution.

  15. M

    I think it's right to compare both FMA and Silver Spoon. The latter clearly shows that Arakawa's talent and disposition is more naturally aligned with smaller Slice of Life than epic fantasy adventure. I say this because plenty of times those comedic happy-go-lucky elements had a habit of littering dramatic build up or somber reflection in FMA:B. I thought the interjecting gags further into the series were inappropriate and monotonous. They served to undermine the darker places the show was willing to go earlier on with Tucker and the Philosopher's stone. Lighter moments in fantasy are cool, but cartoonish humour and laughable narrative snags took me out of Brotherhood.

    Not saying the first adaption wasn't guilty of some of this, but it definitely had more restraint where Arakawa's penchant for mood kills is concerned. I'm not one to worship source material as the holy grail like most seem to.

  16. S

    It’s too bad not many people follow this series. I absolutely adore Silver Spoon: I love the characters, their development, the themes, the comedy and how it’s grounded in reality.
    The highlight in this episode for me was the cow’s rectal exam. It was both funny and gross since there is zero suspense of disbelief.
    And for what it’s worth, the low amount of people who do comment on the episodes are always very positive about the show. I hardly see comments saying that it’s mediocre, average, okay or “meh”.

  17. That's partly what I was driving at – I think the series is so consistently good that people are jaded to it, and they see a great episode and think it's nothing special, it's just Gin no Saji being Gin no Saji.

  18. T

    When I heard someone say that Silver Spoon was nothing like FMA I kind of laughed, because it seems clear as day that Arakawa wrote this, her sense of humor and outlook on life are just there and I love every second of it. As for it not being popular, I have to say while I didn't notice (when I enjoy genuinely something I care less and less about popularity or what others say about it) I think I may understand why, which I think may be because it's a slice of life series. Aside from the people who, as you put it, are used to the BS, the ones who I see seem to want non-BS shows want stuff like Psycho Pass or Atack on Titan (if it were a bit smarter) since it's not only smart but there's a sense of thrill and they can be excited and rush towards the next installment. To that I'd say silver spoon may not be thrilling, but hell I find this much more fulfilling than either of those two shows, because if I can get something out of it then I think a series has succeeded in something important.

  19. H

    Heh, at first when I saw the preview I was wondering if they were going to name the dog Hachiko to go with Hachiken, lost opportunity there guys! (and hearing them call the team pet "Vice Pres" gave me a Star Driver flashback or two, but I don't expect this one to start talking XD). All in all a really charming episode, I think the show is settling back down, even with a different director, just fine and that's such a relief.

  20. m

    This show is definitely amazing, and the manga is even better. It really does have this feeling of no up or down episodes bc theres no change in the high standard each week. Though this week I must admit I got annoyed at the anime/manga cliché of one character telling another character what type of person they are. Maybe that's a Japanese thing, but I've never once come across anyone saying to another person "you know what makes you a good person" or anything of the sort completely out of nowhere. It feels so forced and strange, bc if someone said that kind of stuff in real life you'd get a "yeah I know what type of person I am, I was there when I did that stuff" reaction.

  21. Really? I've certainly been involved in conversations that were in that general vein, so it didn't strike me as at all out of the ordinary or unrealistic.

  22. S

    Well, "no bullshit" in a metaphorical sense. If we talk about LITERAL bullshit, well, that was abundant and actually a plot point ^^.

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