Gin no Saji – 05
「八軒、脱走する (Hachiken, Dassō suru/i>)
“Hachiken Runs Away
I’ll say it again: "Slice of Life" is misapplied to more series than I can count, but Gin no Saji is living up to the billing so far.
Apologies for a bit of a short post this week: I’m in the midst of traveling and to be honest, while this episode of Silver Spoon was great fun, I think it pretty much speaks for itself. This series has gotten great traction out of the cultural divide between Hachi-kun and his Ooezo classmates, but in truth it’s actually spent more time showing what unites them than what divides them. It’s not exactly a revolutionary message, but it’s an honest and positive one, and seems likely to power a lot of what we see over the rest of the series.
Basically, the plot this week was pretty simple – no matter their interests and no matter where they live, teenagers (especially boys) get into trouble for stupid reasons that are totally worth it. If the udders in the gravure mags belong to bovines and the vehicular pinups are self-driving harvesters instead of Bugati Veyrons, so what? The feelings are the same, and at least theoretically Hachiken can understand when his classmates get excited about stuff even if he doesn’t quite feel the thrill himself. But the sense so far is that Hachiken is a bit of a repressed kid, and whether it be idols or Holsteins, it doesn’t seem he’s allowed himself to participate much in the fellowship of teenage obsessions.
Fortunately Hachiken’s thinking is outside-the-box at Ooezo, and he’s a very bright kid to begin with. So when his pals take an idea and run with it he proves himself very useful, and this is doing wonders for his self-esteem. Last time it was pizza, this time it’s the great escape – fleeing the dormitory compound during evening study time in order to see… Well, to see just what Hachi-kun doesn’t know, but given that it involves crop circles and "Area 51" he’s convinced It might be cool. The escape itself is full of silly but funny moments, like Nishikawa’s miming of "taking a crap" to Tamako giving him her snacks to take on the mission and hanging onto her camcorder. It’s your basic schoolboy caper, seen a thousand times before, but executed unusually well.
That seems to be a repeating pattern with Silver Spoon so far – it’s showing a great ability to execute familiar material in a fresh and entertaining way. I’m still a little baffled at how staggeringly popular the manga is even with Arakawa writing it, given how few commercial buttons it seems to push, but gratified just the same. I haven’t seen anything revolutionary in five episodes but I have seen emotional accuracy, thoughtfulness and and a deft touch with character comedy, and all those things bode exceptionally well for the series’ future.