for many mangaka the hardest thing is to create a new series that is as popular as their last work – with some achieving this with apparent ease [Rumiko takahashi] countered by some who struggle to achieve success beyond their more popular series[Kio Shimoku].
So is this the case for Full metal alchemist creator Arakawa Hiromu with her new series “Silver spoon”?
The first thing to consider is that this series is nothing like alchemist – Hachiken Yugo thinks he’s found a cushy number by enrolling at Yezo agricultural high school, in the heart of rural Sapporo, however things turn out not quite as planned. We are soon introduced to our core cast – horse rider [ and potential love intrest for Yugo] Mikage Aki, and fellow students [and budding farmers] like friendly Aikawa and the overly serious seeming Komaba Keiji – Yet how come Yugo, who seems anything but a farmer, choose to come here? Its not mentioned outright, but the series gives hints that there is an altogether more serious reason for him choosing a farming school.
For the most part everyone here is a new character [although a certain well muscled former alchemist does turn up at one point] and yet none of them seem to be copies of alchemist characters every one of them have personalities and backgrounds that you would expect from children from farming backgrounds [and indeed these characters all aspire to become involved in the agricultural industry in some way when they graduate]. Also the agricultural details and terminology are well drawn and researched – something which is helped by knowledge brought to this by Arakawa Hiromu’s agricultural background prior to becoming a mangaka.
Now for the $64,000 question – who is this for?
For fans of full metal alchemist there’s nothing really for them – this series is based in the real world [ as opposed to the world of alchemist] and none of the characters [well apart from one, and only briefly in another role] appear here. Also the story and characters are a total opposite to those of alchemist – if anything these sort of people are the kind you could meet anywhere in Japan today.
For people who are fans of series like Moyashimon though they may get more out of this especially considering, at this early stage, there is little of the standard manga tropes [ harems, fan service, shonen rivalry etc] to appeal to the normal crowd, and more to do with the ins and outs of different elements of agriculture [with Yugo acting in part as the viewpoint for the reader – understandable considering that the vast majority of Japanese people reside in urban environments, and the closest most will have got to a chicken or cows are when they went to the supermarket to buy their next meal].
Will this series pan out for Arakawa Hiromu? I for one say I hope so.