Gin no Saji Second Season – 07

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Sports is a great character-builder and all, but then there’s that whole “scarred for life” thing too…

Gin no Saji really shouldn’t be allowed to take hiatuses (I say delay the Olympics next time) because a week without its soul-restoring unpretentious honesty is too cruel when the show is only eleven episodes as it is.  There are other anime that thrill and amuse greatly, but nothing currently that has quite the balm effect that Silver Spoon has.  There are no tricks, no cheats – it’s just life through the eyes of one very realistic and likeable teenager.  If it looks this easy, why is it so damn hard that pretty much no other show can do it?

The last couple of episodes were about as conventionally dramatic as this series gets – though it was generated so organically that it felt like those occasional frenetic crisis moments life throws at you and not a plot device – but this one returns us more or less to the “normal” mode for Gin no Saji.  That is, the drama is in the moment – having doubts about the future, wondering if the girl really likes you, getting way too worked up about a game.  Arakawa-sensei doesn’t try and separate the nexus moments from the everyday worries because that’s how life is – we live with both and deal with them in the moment.

Now that we’ve finally reached the point where Yuugo has laid his feelings for Mikage on the table, there’s refreshingly little in terms of game-playing (unsurprisingly).  We don’t see Hachiken spending the whole episode worrying about whether Mikage will honor their promise to go on a date – he comes right out and asks her in the first moments of the episode.  After her conversation with her dorm-mates there’s pretty much no way Mikage can’t know the real meaning behind this promise, so the fact that she affirms it is a good sign.  I really wanted to tell Megane-sensei to butt the hell out – would it kill you to give them two minutes before lights out?  But all’s well that ends well, and in this case the end is hopefully really a beginning.

There’s an interesting development in that Nakajima-sensei is “dealing with health issues” and unable to attend to the Equestrian Club, so the Headmaster takes over for a “few days”.  Is he just heartsick over his lost cheese, or is this just a regular cold – or is it foreshadowing of a larger event?  In any case the major focus of the moment is baseball – the Fall Tournament, and Komaba’s emerging role as a closer for the Ezonoo team.  A win the preliminaries means the school gets to go to Sapporo to cheer, so everyone is especially invested – and things start off very well.  Ezonoo wins their first game easily and then upsets a Sapporo club to reach the semi-finals, with Komaba finishing off both games.  That sets up a clash with a Hakodate (Hokkaido’s second city) school for the chance to play in the regional finals.

That game turns out to be a real heartbreaker.  As a group of students and the Headmaster watch on a monitor shared with shots of cows getting ready to give birth (poor Hachi-kun is drafted twice to assist with messy deliveries) Ezonoo battles back from a 3-0 deficit and snatches a 5-4 lead of a see-saw game, and Komaba comes in to close – but not until the bases are loaded with no one out in the bottom of the 9th (not exactly the situation you want to inherit).  He does his job, but the game is lost when a gust of wind takes what should have been the final out and turns it into a game-ending error by the right-fielder, Uryuu-kun.  That kind of thing doesn’t happen too often at this level of competition, but one can only imagine the damage it could be to the psyche of a player on a strong high-school team.  It’s a heartbreak for everyone concerned and Komaba handles it as gracefully as possible, but that poor kid is going to have nightmares for the rest of his life.  That’s the ugly side of youth sports right there.

In any event, as with most things in Silver Spoon the life’s lesson is more important than the event itself.  There’s a general sense among the others that everything will be fine next year – Komaba is a first-year after all – but that teaser moment from earlier season (the secret between Mikage and Komaba that made her cry) is still hanging over everything.  It seems a good bet that rather than a debut, this was a swan song for Komaba as a ballplayer – he’s absent from class the next day, Mikage looks very sad, and I wonder if he’s used up all his lifelines and now has to return home for good to take care of the family farm (remember, his father has passed away).

Of course, this being his story that development would be an important thing for Hachiken to reflect on.  He’s worried about his own lack of dreams, and already notes the contrast between himself and Aikawa, who knows exactly what he wants.  Now, Yuugo may see the example of a boy who doesn’t have the option to pursue his dream, because his obligations take precedence.  Hachi-kun is a great kid, but his problems are to an extent self-generated (as Yoshino noted in declaring him un-spongeworthy).  Part of the theme here is certainly his learning to appreciate what he has instead of questioning what he doesn’t.  Aikawa points out that unlike in his own case, his uncertain future goals give Hachiken the freedom to follow any path, and unlike Komaba it seems that Hachi (as a second son of a non-farm family) is being given a certain leeway to find his path even if his father is overbearing by nature.  Hachiken has many things to be grateful for – he’s already figured out that he’s grateful to be at a place he likes with people he likes.  Komaba’s hardships seem destined to help his friend take another step forward in his own journey towards manhood.

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  1. e

    'Sponge-worthy'? A blogger and his Seinfeld-speech :,D.

    Gone with the wind. T_T
    And going by Aki's expression both here at the end and some episodes ago the swan song scenario is rather solid a possibility. May tomorrow be another day… after all…
    I hope sensei is simply recovering from cheese grief rather than something more ominous.
    Talking about Aki I loved how enthusiastical she was all nodding at Hachicchi's date renewal – and later all kira kira with horse-sauce – . Such a honest damozel :,>.
    On the other hand… that shirt needs to disappear in a fire. Oh my bleeding retinas.
    On a more serious note, Yuugo's situation – once again – is just so easy to relate to. And portrayed in such a natural way. Yet it's so hard to encounter this level of seemingly effortless craft. Brava Harakawa and good job by the anime staff.

  2. M

    Man, S2 been a downer. Now that the focus of the show has shifted from agriculture to Hachiken's personal life, things have been less interesting. Also too much baseball dorama.

    Arakawa is dipping into contrived humour territory again as well. Why exactly was Hachiken the only one made responsible for birthing the calves? Too often if feels like the school is unrealistically placing a lot of expectation/focus on the poor guy, even after pointing out he gets too much thrown on his plate. And as for romance and realism – I think Mikage and Komaba are a more natural pairing, but I doubt Arakawa will be bold and cause an upset there. Having said that, it'd been nice if we weren't always focusing on the 'main trio'. So many decent side characters are always kept on the backbench as comic reserves.

    Can't say any of the additions this season have made much improvement to the show either. Guess I'm dropping out of Ezonoo, for now.

  3. M


  4. E

    It's clearly said that he is the only one in Dairy Department among them.

    Mikage and Komaba are childhood friends.

    Life lesson is good. The only thing I dislike is Hachiken's behavior towards his mum. While his dad seemed like a jerk who only cares about jobs and results, his mom seemed to be genuinely care about him. That's no way to treat your mom! Oh, well, it just adds humane side to him, I guess.

  5. M

    My bad, I missed that (convenient) point – but it does feel like he gets served the rear end of the school quite a bit because deep down they know this is his show.

    Childhood friends, so? But like I said – Arakawa wouldn't cause such an upset…

    I think what's been irking me about Hachi this season is that it feels like he's retreading where development is concerned, not entirely his fault I'm sure more the story focus. The conflict he felt when dealing with agricultural realities did more for me than all these relationships with poor communication.

  6. Z

    Shouldn't the guy training to be a veterinarian have gone too?

  7. Considering as he wasn't there, probably not.

  8. Z

    How convenient.

  9. h

    "soul-restoring unpretentious honesty" – the perfect phrase that encapsulates why this anime is so good! Part of the reason I like Gin no Saji so much is because of this right here…it's so refreshingly raw and honest, and even the drama is so effortlessly and naturally depicted.

    Nice analysis on Hachiken's next step in character development too!

  10. Thanks, hobbusu. Don't recall seeing you comment before – apologies if I've forgotten, otherwise welcome and either way, thanks for commenting!

  11. F

    Watching Uryuu-kun as he expresses his heart-felt apology to Komaba it makes me wonder if maybe he understands the true gravity of this (lost) game, and we don't, yet. We aren't shown whether or not he offered the same apology to the entire team, but given the absence of Komaba in class which seems to indicate that his dream is dead, I suppose it wouldn't be unusual for Komaba's teammates to have an awareness of the seriousness these games have for him.

    Sort of bums me out . . .

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