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Bring It or Keep It? – Silver Spoon

Welcome, one and all, to a new and, potentially, recurring series "Bring It or Keep It?" This is where we'll take a look at some properties that do not originate from one's home country and has, as of yet, not been licensed for a foreign release. As such, the question must be asked: Should it be localized or should it just stay home?

This time I'll be taking a look at a comic called Gin no Saji or Silver Spoon, by Hiromu Arakawa. Silver Spoon is a rather new manga series that has thus far only been released in Japan as a weekly serialization in the magazine Weekly Shonen Sunday. Unfortunately, I can't get too far without first providing context of the author's previous work. For those not aware, Hiromu Arakawa is the author of another manga series called Fullmetal Alchemist, which ran from 2001 to 2010 in Japan and spawned two anime series. The franchise gained massive popularity with its tale of the Elric brothers, two young men who use the strange science of alchemy in a quest to restore the normal bodies they lost when attempting to revive their dead mother. All three incarnations have been released in multiple countries, including the U.S.

With the author's work history in mind, one might easily expect another epic fantasy, staple of the shonen manga medium. Get Silver Spoonready for a surprise then, because Silver Spoon is a little bit different. Hachiken is a young man who has recently become a high school freshman. He is a smart guy from the city, but instead of attending a college prep school, he has decided to go to Yezo Agricultural High School, a place where everyone except him seems to carry the dream of taking over the family farm. Why then did Hachiken choose to go to such a school? Well, they have dormitories. That seems to be it. Now our young protagonist must learn to work his body as much as his mind and to find a dream of his own.

Yeah, not really as exciting. Of course, a comic can still be enjoyable without being an epic. There is decent humor present and if you like the character designs in Fullmetal Alchemist, then you will be pleased with the art here. Still, what made a lot of that art interesting were the alchemy scenes and the monsters, none of which are found in Silver Spoon. Furthermore, most chapters so far have taken on an educational slant, discussing different facets of farm life, occasionally in lengthy monologues. It is obvious that Arakawa has a comprehensive knowledge of farms, having grown up on a dairy farm, but keep in mind that this is the agricultural climate of Japan, so not everything is going to fully translate to other regions. Even the killing of animals, a harsh reality of the farm, is discussed at length here. Scenes that discuss the cruelty of killing piglets, immediately followed by the characters enjoying bacon, may prove more unsettling than informative to some readers. None of this would be a problem if chapters were as entertaining as they are educational, but much of the time it is about as boring as it sounds.

All the success garnered by Fullmetal Alchemist makes a foreign release for Silver Spoon a near certainty, but it is hard to say if this is wise. It is still very new in Japan, so there is, of course, potential for improvement. If the first few chapters are any indication though, I'm not so sure a wider release would be worth it.

Verdict: Keep it


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