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Gin no Saji – 09

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「八軒、豚丼に迷う」 (Hachiken, Butadon ni Mayou)
“Hachiken Hesitates Over Pork-Bowl”

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where this season is going to finish up.

Gin no Saji has certainly been an enjoyable ride, but the whole Butadon thing has been a foreboding presence hanging over the series since the premiere. The fact is, there’s no better device for Arakawa-sensei to frame all the issues she’s raising with this series, and it cuts right to the emotional heart of the matter in a way nothing else in this show can. It’s the one element that ties together the agricultural ethics side of the series with Hachiken’s personal development, the two halves of Silver Spoon that are close enough to perfectly balanced as to be equally important.

I don’t know what route Arakawa is going to take here, but it’s certainly going to be interesting to find out. Porkbowl’s saga has been a supporting player for most of the series but its presence was always tangible, and this was the week it really became the central theme of Silver Spoon. If anything, I hope we get something a little different from the conventional tearful goodbye and acceptance line, which would be the standard way of handling this. Hachiken has a fat wad of money burning a hole in his wallet which he’s refusing to spend, and that’s surely not an insignificant plot point one way or another – I don’t know how much medium-grade pigs cost (I suspect more than a couple of week’s wages as a farmhand, and then there’s the matter of room and board) but his using his money to buy Butadon and put him out to stud the petting zoo would probably the second-most conventional way to resolve the situation.

That second one is an attractive notion, but as tempting as it is to believe it could happen (and it certainly wouldn’t be a shock) my gut tells me Arakawa isn’t going to go there. As heartwarming as it would be it would also be a bit of a copout, because for all that she’s tried to take a middle-path on the issue of raising animals for slaughter, in truth she’s definitely staked a position – she believes it’s a necessary and even noble human endeavor. How then to justify that Porkbowl should be spared while all those other animals we see the cast rapturously devouring are not? He’s undeniably cute (a true moe-pig) and he has a name – but no more true cause to be spared the knife than the millions of his brethren and sistren (it’s a word, look it up). Either you believe in eating meat or you don’t – Arakawa-sensei clearly does – and if you do, it’s not right that Butadon should be an exception. If anything he’s already luckier than most, because unlike the millions of pigs that exist mainly as lines on a spreadsheet in the cold and brutal world of mega-farming, for a while at least he’s had someone to show him genuine love.

Hachiken is the right person to make this decision, I think. As Silver Spoon has progressed he’s grown impressively both as a person and as a main character. As his teacher said, Hachiken is a "foreign body" at Ezonoo – and sometimes a foreign body is a good thing. He sees everything about the agricultural world with fresh eyes, and that makes him valuable both to the school in the context of the story and to the series as a narrative device. Just maybe, even if Porkbowk is to wind up on the knacker’s table, it’s not such a bad thing to have someone mourn an animal that goes to slaughter every once in a while. It can’t hurt for the people who make their living off the sacrifices of other living things to be reminded that there are indeed sacrifices being made – that these animals, given a choice, would choose to survive and propagate rather feed a hungry human and a farmer’s bank account. Perhaps in seeing Hachiken mourn at the death of an animal he cared for, they might pause and wonder if it’s such a good thing that they no longer do.

The other dominant element in Hachi-kun’s thread and that of the series itself is family. There’s a growing sense of just how much the type of agriculture we see depicted in Gin no Saji is a dynastic thing – of the great sense of duty the young feel to carry on the work of their parents. That’s something we see less and less of in the modern world (it can be debated whether that’s a good or bad thing, on balance) and is mirrored in his own life, where we see the tremendous pressure their father puts on Yuugo and Shingo to live as he feels they should. There’s a part of me that expects a scenario that’s almost similar to Hyouka to develop here, where Hachiken comes to love this way of life and sees his role as taking a place at Aki’s side, so that she can be allowed to pursue a way of living that she loves (i.e. horses). But that would be a long way off, and for now he’s still running away from all that – a task that the reminder the recurring presence of Shingo presents makes considerably harder to do. I suspect that side of the story is mostly going to be be deferred to the second season, with Butadon’s saga providing both the dramatic capper to this one and the next point in Hachiken’s character arc that kicks off the next.

September 6, 2013 at 5:35 am
15 comments »
  • September 6, 2013 at 6:03 amZhinvu

    Wow Tamako. Just wow. And I loved that punchline near the end. I almost forgot about Shingo’s “cooking talent” until Hachiken panicked and we see his friends knocked out by the yakisoba. Revenge for the stall owners indeed.

  • September 6, 2013 at 6:38 amThe Truth is in the Axe

    Talk about piglet mentality, since Hachiken knows which one is Butadon based on how easily he’s pushed out of the trough like when he was a piglet. And talk about Tamako’s extreme transformation! And Tokiwa has…the most outrageous transformation of all, strutting around like some bigshot rooster.

    I like that this episode is right after the milk spilling incident, since it just adds to the message that some things you gotta appreciate when it’s given to you. Like, just as mistakes don’t invalidate all your hard work and contributions, your emotional investment in a piggie isn’t going to be invalidated once it goes to whatever demise Pork Bowl is going to. Hachi gets to learn about the value of earning what he works from in Mikage’s farm, and now he knows what it means to raise things for a product, so that means that Hachi is learning how his hard work and contributions to a project can be meaningful and applicable.

    And that’s hard to realize when all you think you’re able to do is study and hope your test scores match up.

    I also don’t think Pork Bowl is capable of going to stud, since didn’t they say in episode 2 that they castrate piglets so they’d get fat easily? So it looks more likely he’s going to become his namesake.

    • September 6, 2013 at 7:59 pmrufe

      Yes, you castrate piglets and calves for meat. It makes the meat less tough and fattier. We did it in agg class so I’m pretty sure =|

      • September 7, 2013 at 1:24 amThe Truth is in the Axe

        Then Pork Bowl never stood a chance: he’s born to be pork bowl, and nary a Charlotte’s Web nor herding capabilities on a nice English farm can save him. At he knew looooove.

        I applaud you for surviving what is most assuredly a grisly class, Rufe.

  • September 6, 2013 at 9:04 amechykr

    Now I see why Takagaki Ayahi, a VA more known for voicing cute girl roles, was cast as Tamako. :D

    Shingo’s horrid cooking has once again claimed casualties. To the delight of the stall owners whose stores have been raided by said victims.
    http://randomc.net/image/Gin%20no%20Saji/Gin%20no%20Saji%20-%2009%20-%20Large%2035.jpg

  • September 6, 2013 at 9:05 am7godeohs

    I’m REALLY hoping this gets a second season (or more). I have no idea how the BD sales will go (I would have a hard time believing they will be stellar), but the manga appears to be very popular in Japan.

    I have to admit that I started reading the manga with some trepidation based upon the first couple chapters. That notion fell away quickly however, after I consumed all of it to the present chapter I noticed the clock read 3:30am.

    • September 6, 2013 at 9:58 amdebstaman

      a second season has already been announced for january or u could think of it as one season split by fall season

      • September 6, 2013 at 1:21 pmNitro

        Yup. This anime season actually covers two manga-time seasons (the manga’s chapter names are literally a real-world season and a number). The story here covers the Spring and Summer arcs. I assume they’re splitting the seasons as a kind of tidbit to sync up with real-world seasons.

  • September 6, 2013 at 9:23 amRyuuzaki

    japan should really make more of this kind of relaxing anime.

  • September 6, 2013 at 10:55 amchad28

    I think Hachiken kind of sees himself in Pork Bowl, and he is trying to make Pork Bowl succeed because he failed back home. I really emphasized with that.

    The senpai girl who says Hachiken is a wuss and that says that Mikage is cold made buster into laughter – really.

    About what will happen to Pork Bowl, I think Hachiken is going to accept that it’s going to be eaten. I’m thinking this mainly because of the deer scene, Hachiken prepared it and ate it, even though it was hard for him.

    1st thing I didn’t like in the show:
    I didn’t like the scene with Tokiwa, I understand that accessories and not appropriate clothes might comprise work so they could have taken that away, but his hair wouldn’t, if he wants to have that style he should be allowed to. I understand is more for comedic effect, but I didn’t find it funny when they made him cut his hair.

    I love this anime.

  • September 6, 2013 at 11:23 ambelatkuro

    So moe I died.

    I almost forgot about Tamako’s weight changes. She looks so beautiful when she’s slim. Makes me wonder how they’ll do that in the live-action of Gin no Saji.

    And Shingo must have been proud of his brother with his friends behind him. I smiled when he said that. Yuugo has definitely changed from when he first entered EnzoEzonoo. Remarkable work again by Arakawa in terms of character development.

    Time to eat. I always make it a point to eat after watching the show. Makes the food taste better.

    • September 9, 2013 at 5:18 amBigFire

      As much as you (or the boys) like her slimmer look, she doesn’t like it herself. She actually feel weaker in this shape.

  • September 6, 2013 at 4:05 pmCircles

    I’ve been following Silver Spoon in manga form since it first came out and I thought I wouldn’t enjoy the anime nearly as much. But this episode’s final cut before going into the ED was amazingly poignant.

  • September 6, 2013 at 7:56 pmrufe

    Show Spoiler ▼

    As a vegetarian I feel strongly for the messages that the author is pushing (not vegetarianism by any means, but just awareness that eating meat is killing another living creature for your own pleasure). Japan being a country where people ask me constantly why I’m vegetarian (“you don’t even eat fish??”), I’m impressed that this came out and is popular there.

  • September 6, 2013 at 11:07 pmRasen

    So when I heard Tokiwa reintroduce himself, was I the only who heard: “Tokiwadai” instead of “Tokiwa da yo”?