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「八軒、大失態を演じる」 (Hachiken, Dai Shittai o Enjiru)
“Hachiken Makes a Huge Mistake”

Without a doubt, Gin no Saji has taken the lead in food porn this season.

Silver Spoon the animehas been nothing if not consistent. That isn’t necessarily a good thing – it all depends on what level of quality you’re consistently delivering – but fortunately this show has been rock-solid every week. We haven’t had elegiac highs but likewise haven’t had so much as mediocrity, never mind any true lows – I’m hard-pressed to remember a show with less erratic performance than this one. It seems fitting considering the salt-of-the-earth nature of the subject matter than the series should be reliable, unpretentious and consistently fresh week after week.

Like the layers of an onion, the protective skin Hachiken has built around himself is slowly being peeled back with each episode. It’s happening for him as he slowly loses his practiced detachment and ambivalence, and it’s happening for the viewer as details of what made him that way percolate to the surface. This was probably the biggest single leap forward yet in the arrival of Hachi-kun’s older brother Shingo (Konishi Katsuyuki). Shingo arrives in grand style – showing up on his motorcycle just as Hachi and the Mikages are trying to separate a herd of stray cows from their own, and promptly (quite literally) corralling them – and then proceeds to (quite literally) fall flat on his face when he slips on cow dung and lays the bike down.

I have a suspicion that grand entrance is symbolic of Shingo as a character – time will tell, but what was clear here is that his reality is very different from what Hachiken believes it to be. The fact that Shingo got into Todai (Tokyo University) in itself says he’s special – it’s considered the finest college in Japan. But if that weren’t enough, we see via flashback that at least in part it’s definitely Shingo’s legacy that Hachi-kun is trying to live down. But in point of fact Shingo has quit school – when his father asks him why on the phone, Shingo tellingly replies “To piss you off.” The mother seems more worried about Hachiken than anything, but the father pointedly says that both his sons are worthless. There’s a lot of extra baggage with this family, that much is clear, but at least Shingo refuses to tell his parents where his brother is. And having quit Todai to make ramen – and terrible ramen at that – his own perceived failings should take some of the pressure of Hachiken for a while.

In point of fact, Hachiken seems quite at home in Aki’s family – her mother and grandparents are talking openly right in front of him about his marrying into it, though her Dad is still playing the jealous father role to the hilt (especially when Hachiken finds himself musing on the difference between fully-developed udders and developing ones). Hachiken is obviously smart and talented, and when he sets his mind to something adept at picking it up quickly. 4 AM wake-up calls and backbreaking labor are nothing new to him anymore, and he picks up the routine and procedures of dairy farm life expeditiously. And for all his self-doubt and perceived lack of goals, Hachiken is possessed of a self-awareness few boys his age have – he understands his trip-wires and his limitations, even if he doesn’t always know how to overcome them.

I always take it as a sign of good writing when an anime can make a seemingly mundane real-life situation as tense as any life-or-death space drama or epic fantasy (the school scenes in Hourou Musuko are a great example). The title of the episode gives away that something big is coming, and it turns out to be Hachiken forgetting to reconnect a hose to the raw milk tank after getting a taste of just how umai raw milk can be, resulting in the loss of about 40000¥ (400$) worth of milk. Of course Hachi-kun is horrified and ashamed, but the Mikages – even Dad – don’t hold it against him. The contrast between the accepting farm family and the uptight cityfolk might be a bit heavy-handed here, but it plays as realistic – the Mikages have seen Hachiken busting his tail for them for three weeks, exceeding the expectations they’d set for him, and in their value system an honest mistake where no one was hurt (which the mother quite compassionately tried to blame on Dad and Grandpa) doesn’t nullify the good will engendered by all that hard work.

I was reminded a bit of today’s Servant X Service episode here, believe it or not. When Hachiken tried to refuse his pay to atone for his mistake, he was effectively disrespecting his employer just as Lucy disrespects those who think highly of her when she disparages herself. Even Great-Grandma (107 years old) finally breaks her silence to tell him to take the money, and professes to Aki later that Hachi-kun is a smart enough boy to spend that money wisely, not frivolously (“You can judge a man by how he spends his money.”) It’s altogether a lesson in humility and loyalty for Hachiken – and I’d be remiss in non mentioning that it’s also a lesson in how good fresh-picked sweet corn tastes. If you’ve never had it, you can’t imagine how much better it is than supermarket corn – whether it be simply boiled in salted water or fire-grilled with a soy glaze as Dad and Grandpa did (which is how they serve corn at matsuri during the summer). Really fresh corn is so good you can literally eat it raw – and not for the first time, Silver Spoon has left me with my stomach growling and a new item on my next day’s shopping list…

August 30, 2013 at 5:11 am
22 comments »
  • August 30, 2013 at 7:00 amRyuuzaki

    the spilled milk part reminds me when im still doing my ojt, we trainees messed up but the company didnt ask for replacement. we feel bad and feel ashamed to show our face to our superiors after that incident.
    *pats hachiken’s back, i feel you bro*

  • August 30, 2013 at 7:27 am7godeohs

    I would love to see Hachiken use his earnings to take Aki on a date (or whatever would constitute a date when the go-to cliche date spots are a hundred miles away). However, due to pragmatic nature of the manga I imagine he will spend it on something agriculture-related – even if a date with Aki would be a far better investment. It would also be much more entertaining to watch Hachiken’s awkwardness and clumsiness abound.

    • August 30, 2013 at 4:00 pmFlareKnight

      Yeah with how much they built up how important spending his money is I can’t see him using it on a date. Although long term the value would be there XD.

      Besides at this point I think he just needs to really get Aki’s attention first. Certainly she knows he exists and respects him, but despite her family making a big deal about things I haven’t seen her show any romantic interest in him yet. Need to hit that milestone first.

  • August 30, 2013 at 7:40 amChimp

    I’ve held it in too long. That little old granny is too adorable. I want her.

  • August 30, 2013 at 8:13 amchad28

    I felt so sorry for Hachiken because of the milk incident, it was all going so well… and then that happens.

    I would feel super guilty and Hachiken felt too, especially after realizing how much money he just had cost.

    Even though Hachiken is not fond of his brother, I think the real problem is their father. Who is too demanding of both of them. The older brother rebelled against his father, as did Hachiken, just later in his life.

    Also, this is what Shigo dropping college reminded me:
    http://zenpencils.com/comic/128-bill-watterson-a-cartoonists-advice/

    I really believe this. A person value isn’t determined by their salary or their post.
    If you are happy doing a “perceived lower job” than a “top-tear” one, do it.

    • September 1, 2013 at 4:16 amSmith

      How can someone not be fond of their Aniki when their Aniki is Kamina, the ultimate bro!

  • August 30, 2013 at 10:41 amlegwkio

    This is it. Next episode will probably Gin no Saji’s best.

  • August 30, 2013 at 10:54 amNaYa

    Y’know, right now is the prime season for fresh sweet corn.
    Mmmmmm grilled corn with butter and spices……

  • August 30, 2013 at 11:01 amAndré

    For some reason I’ve been crying while watching this. WTF

    • September 1, 2013 at 9:14 pmMaddoki

      me too !! I felt so bad for Hachiken T_T

  • August 30, 2013 at 11:58 ambelatkuro

    That “prostration” part was another one of my favorite scenes in the manga and good to see it was done well. Though I remember RedHawk’s translation in the manga for it was “Worship”. Plus the excellent timing of that and it’s why I loved that part.

    And I know that feeling all too well with the milk accident. A big mistake on your part and you feel so bad you want to disappear, yet no one is blaming you for it. The music when he was getting handed his pay was just great.
    And little by little we’re knowing more about Hachiken’s past and at the same time he’s growing up and learning things. Really really good episode and adaptation of an already excellent source.

    Welp, time to eat.

  • August 30, 2013 at 12:29 pmMagewolf

    I wonder if Great-grandma would think buying a pig was good use of his money?

  • August 30, 2013 at 1:43 pmGermanguy

    I must Admit. I break out of some Father Chains, and now i am my Own Master. But you need to take care of yourself. Because before that, there was someone that put the “Food” on Table. So, Independence needs Money, to fulfill your own Dreams

    • August 30, 2013 at 1:46 pmGermanguy

      and strangely is that, now after many Years. I am his best Son. Because i caused him no problems…

      Someone please give me a “understand your Daddy!” Book please

  • August 30, 2013 at 1:46 pmTechim

    Watched this episode. It was great.
    Then I read the relevant manga chapter..Seems like the episode would have been better if they didn’t leave out a few funny scenes.
    Eg Show Spoiler ▼

  • August 30, 2013 at 5:22 pmThe Truth is in the Axe

    I think that there’s a definite positive message to be gained from Mikage’s family forgiving Hachi and his spill- that a single mistake doesn’t have to overwrite all the hard work you put into something. That hard work is still appreciated and that what happened didn’t ruin a farm and it won’t suddenly cause it to break down.

    In a way, the milk spill also parallels Shingo’s appearance and him quitting school. Shingo was able to study into Tokyo U, and it’s implied that he had an easier time studying that Hachi does, and instead of reaping the fruit of his efforts (in Hachi’s eyes) he turns it down and tries to make it on his own. It would look like to Hachi that it would look disrespectful (even though it’s Shingo’s life and he can do what he wants as an adult) because it’s something that his brother had earned.

    So it’s kinda like how Mikage’s family were all saying “take the money Hachi” but in a softer light because it’s based around an accident. Shingo quitting school isn’t the end of the world for him, and neither should spilled milk be for Hachi.

  • August 30, 2013 at 6:08 pmZhinvu

    The Mikages are a fun bunch. I was surprised that Aki’s dad could casually compare a cow’s milked udders to his wife’s in front of Hachiken. No surprise he got whacked on the head with a broom for it. And the great grandmother is really something to be able to scare a cow like that.

    • August 30, 2013 at 7:41 pmechykr

      Made even funnier by Hachiken in turn staring at Aki when mentioning “younger cows”, resulting in her dad smacking him:
      “The hell you lookin’ at?!”

      LOL

  • August 31, 2013 at 12:29 amcyprinious

    You know the writer and/or director is good when after all the build up you see his face when he realizes the severity of his mistake. Man I felt it in my gut. Ouch! I wanted to help him too!!! Good thing Aki’s family likes him and did their best to console him.

    • August 31, 2013 at 1:16 amechykr

      Of course they (except Aki’s dad) like Hachiken, he’s their future in-law after all. :D

      • August 31, 2013 at 1:42 amGuardian Enzo

        Even Dad was won over in the end, I think. The smile says it all.

  • August 31, 2013 at 5:39 amJD

    The Hachiken-Mikage-Outosan dynamic– from the background grunts to the udder jokes to the pat on the back to the corn grilling–made this my favorite episode so far. I still keep rewatching this episode because of that.