Monday, December 30, 2013

Patty's Anime of the Year (2013)

For many people, the anime of the year would probably be Shingeki no Kyojin (進撃の巨人) or Attack on Titans.

It's undoubtedly good - fast flowing action with animated sequences that are rarely seen outside the quality standards you find only in movies. Furthermore, it had a deep and thoughtful story line despite all the grotesque imagery of half-eaten humans and excessive blood. Due to its "adult" story line and imagery, it was broadcast at 1.58am Sunday mornings  in Japan (the original manga was published as "seinen" or mature-themed) but that did not stop it from gaining attention and a cult following, both in and outside Japan, that just grew and grew and grew. The fan movement got really huge worldwide and the costumes became one of the most widely cosplayed series of the year.


I like Attack on Titan and I am waiting for more next year. But there had been weeks in between that I did not feel the need to go back and continue watching it. In fact, there had been more than a couple of times I returned to watching it simply because I was bored and that wasn't during the series' hiatus. I get it that it's a fantasy series and some plot elements didn't need that big an elaboration but I get slightly pissed when the series attempts to tell a story "seriously" and then didn't think it's necessary to explain why the need for all those emotional investments made by the characters.

My friends know me as a (mostly) shonen (少年) manga fan. I think it's a genre I go to often in order to revisit my youth. Characters are allowed to say nonsensical battle cries and be overly optimistic just because the sky is in a soothing shade of blue. Well, all I can say is when I was a kid, I read (and watched) shonen manga (anime) because that was the reality I wanted and as an adult, I went back to escape the reality that isn't. But I read many good seinen manga of course - I Am A Hero (アイアムアヒーロ) for one is a seinen manga series I read diligently and collect every tankoubon.

 Ok, time to announce my anime of the year *drum rolls*

It's 銀の匙 (Silver Spoon)!

The story is about a boy, Yuugo Hachiken, who, having lived in the shadow of his over-achieving brother and over-bearing father, had an off-screen meltdown before the start of the series and upon the advise of his teacher at cram school, decided to enroll in a high school in Hokkaido specializing in agricultural studies - Ooezo Agricultural High School. The series gets its name from an encased silver spoon placed at the entrance of the school's canteen that sends a message to its students - when they graduate, they are going to be knowledgeable in the craft of food production. So much so, it's like having born with a silver spoon in their mouth and never having to go hungry again.

Now, being the slice-of-life genre, it naturally deals with everyday life of the characters. Despite being born in Hokkaido, Yuugo was still pretty much a city boy, and initially it amazes him initially how easily everyone else fits into the agricultural life. Feeling slightly resentful how everyone is pretty much a jock or a redneck (no one chooses agricultural studies if they have a smart head or isn't already born into a farming family), he is at first depressed and regretful of his choice. Eventually though, he realizes most of his classmates truly love life as farm-hands even when not everyone can chose the life they want.

Of course, most of the comedy centers around main character Yuugo and his city-boy-in-the-country adventures. From the joys of raising a runt and heart-wrenchingly  killing it for food (no Wilbur and Charlotte), or making pizzas with the help of people from every faculty (food processing for bacon, dairy specialists for cheese, agronomy for flour, etc), the stories even manage to slip in interesting facts like pigs having as much or even lesser body fat percentage than humans!

Yes, I am also a sucker for feel-good animes and this is one that you can finish every episode feeling inspired by the youthfulness of the characters (even when you are not youthful). Feel good and learn new stuff - reasons enough for you to watch this and enjoy it as much as I did. :)

1 comment:

  1. Attack on titans. No question about it. Probably the only anime for me worth watching for an old guy.