Of all the licensing news to emerge from AnimeExpo 2017, none made me happier than Yen Press’ announcement that it would be publishing Hiromu Arakawa’s Silver Spoon. Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist has been a perennial bestseller for VIZ, but it’s not hard to imagine why American publishers were reluctant to license a comedy about a teen who attends a high school for farmers; there are no cosplay-worthy characters, no superpowers, and no ‘shipworthy pairings to inspire fanfiction. Even the plot summary sounds pretty ho-hum:
A young boy named Yugo Hachiken aspires to live apart from his family. He enrolls in an agriculture school, one which requires its students to live in dormitories. He thinks that with his talent for studying, no problems will arise no matter what kind of school he goes to. But he is soon forced to discover the inconvenient truth about agricultural life. Enjoy the story of Hachiken as he tries to keep up with his friends, farmers’ heirs who are already accustomed to a hardworking farm life.
Yet anyone who’s read Arakawa’s Hyakusho Kizuko knows that she’s funny and frank when writing about the rhythms of farm life, whether she’s describing the persistence of the Hokkaido squirrel, the secret talents of barn cats, or her family’s penchant for using animal medicines to cure their own ailments. (Two words: Bag Balm.) I found Hyakusho Kizuko a better vehicle for Arakawa’s cartooning talents than FMA, not least because it allowed her to riff on her own experiences growing up on a dairy farm; that old dictum of “write what you know” was never truer than in Arakawa’s manga, which have a more distinctive edge when they’re focusing on cows and crops rather than magically-tinged combat.
Stay tuned for more information about when volume one will be available; this is a developing story!