Silver Spoon is the newest manga drawn by Hiromu Arakawa, author of the hit Full Metal Alchemist. It shows the daily life of Yugo Hachiken, a city boy that decided to go to an agricultural highschool, despite the fact that he has no intention of following an agricultural carreer after graduating.
The plot is really simple, as usual for a slice of life series. When I first read about it, I thought: et tu, Arakawa? But I had to give her some credit because of FMA, so I gave it a shot. And thankfully, I was mistaken. She doesn't bring a revolution to the genre, but she created this series with her own style, which makes it different from most of the shounen school comedies.
First of all, it isn't a gag oriented story nor it's a love comedy. There are lots of gags, but they serve the plot and not the contrary. There is also a bit of romance, but it's not nearly the main concern of the manga. Hachiken isn't the useless and talentless main protagonist either. But that alone isn't enough to make an uncommon series. Creating a story set in an agricultural school allows Arakawa to depict lots of situations that are out of the ordinary and you couldn't have in a normal school. Also, the manga is very educational. There's lots of info about how food is produced before it gets to the supermarket, which is not only interesting, but important in an age where many have never seen a living cow in real life. We should all know where what we eat come from.
The cherry on the top are Arakawa's good sense of humour and her funny characters, which the FMA fans already know. Hachiken is a smart guy that has some problems with his family and doesn't have a dream for the future. The manga shows his struggles to adapt to his new environment which are many since he doesn't know a thing about agriculture and most of his colleagues are kids whose families have farms. Hachiken is the audience surrogate. Hachiken is always trying to help people. The heroine, Aya Mikage is a very sweet girl that likes horses. Hachiken likes her and joins the equestrians club because of her. Ichiro Inaba is Mikage's childhood friend and member of the baseball team. There are many other characters, but those tree are the ones with the biggest parts, at least until now.
Silver Spoon is a school manga and deals with the characters dreams and hopes of the future (or lack of those) and the decisions they need to make like any school manga should. It also has good comedy and a bit of romance. But it's also unique and well written enough to be a good manga and not just another school manga.