Title: Silver Spoon Vol. 8 Author: Hiromu Arakawa Publisher: Yen Press Language: English Format: Paperback Pages: 192 Genre: Slice of Life Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Volume eight of Silver Spoon brings us the big reveal of what happened to Komaba. In short, his farm went bankrupt and is closing down. He’s quitting his dream of making it to the pros in order to get a job and help pay off their debt. Hachiken becomes even more concerned when he learns that Mikage’s parents were their guarantors, meaning the debt falls on their hands as well. Hachiken decides that he’s going to do whatever he can to help them through this tough time. For once, Hachiken knows he can’t save the farm or fix the situation but he’s offering to help in order to make the transition as painless as possible.
Part of him doing that is giving Mikage the encouragement to tell her parents how she truly feels about taking over the ranch. She gets the courage to do so and tells them that she wants to get a job working with horses. It comes as a massive shock to the family but they end up becoming accepting of Mikage’s decision. Since Hachiken put her up to it, he decided that he’s going to take responsibility by helping Mikage study to help her get into college. Hachiken’s studying tactics work as Mikage is beginning to understand important points in history that she couldn’t even grasp normally before! This is where our volume comes to an end.
The entire volume’s story was very straight-forward from beginning to end with very little in the way of detours. It was simply about what happened to Komaba, Hachiken wanting to ease the pain, and Mikage forging her own path. Everything also flowed and tied into one another which made this new arc really seamless. Of course, we ended up getting a ton of character development out of this as well so let’s jump right into it!
First up, we have Komaba. This situation just shows how mentally tough he is. Komaba had to make the biggest decision of his life in giving up his dreams to become a professional baseball player. His initial reasoning was to make it to the pros, earn a ton of money, and pay of his family’s debt of 15 million yen and put his siblings through college. With the closing of the farm, all of that went down the drain. Komaba understands that it’s just how it is sometimes in the farming industry and he has accepted it but Hachiken nailed it right on the head when he called Komaba out for suppressing his feelings, knowing full well that he was furious on the inside. Even after all of that, Komaba still kept his cool knowing that he can be furious all his wants, it’s not going to change a single thing. Reality is reality and he has no choice but the accept it. Any weaker man would have crumbled under that level of disappointment but Komaba keeps pushing forward. Hats off to a tremendously-willed character like him!
Hachiken received two levels of development here. Last time, I complained that Hachiken never learns anything and repeats the same mistakes over and over again. In this volume, he finally progressed in that department. The old Hachiken would have done everything possible to try and fix the situation. In fact, he began off that way trying to find ways to make quick money. Hachiken realized that the only thing he could do was ease the pain. This is why he tagged along with Mikage to see Komaba’s cows being sold off to the market. It’s also why he decided to help Mikage stand up to her parents so that her dream wouldn’t disappear like Komaba’s. He let Mikage do all of the talking, rather than handling it all himself. He was there to help her and support her through the discussion and I believe Hachiken is finally starting to learn that by being a support rather than a lead is producing better results for him. Offering to help Mikage study is also a form of support which plays right into his strengths as a character! I like his new direction but can he keep it up is the question.
As for the other part, we get some wonderful romantic advancement here between Mikage and Hachiken. The level of support that Hachiken offered Mikage brought her to tears and made her trust in him more than ever. Hachiken even got to the level of being able to hold hands with her in order to give her more courage. All of his efforts even got Mikage to accidentally compliment Hachiken in a way that heavily suggested (if not almost flat out saying) that she likes him. The only thing that stopped her from sealing the deal was cutting herself off before she could finish her declaration. If that scene didn’t confirm that the two of them are going to end up together, I don’t know what will!
I think that this was one of the most solid editions of Silver Spoon to date. The level of drama in here was off the charts and Hachiken is finally transforming as a character. The romance aspects here were very strong and I believe that this manga slipped in a goal where if Mikage gets into college, Hachiken may be free to confess to her. Her father is still strict but the rest of her family is pulling for them to be a couple. Plus, if Mikage gets into college, it would be thanks to Hachiken and that might quell Mikage’s father’s anger towards him to the point where he may be accepting of him. At least, that’s what I’m predicting here.
As for Komaba… I honestly, can’t see a way for him to dig himself out of this situation. It’s almost as if the story is being set up for MIkage to chase and achieve her dreams and the farms are left to fend for themselves. I can see Mikage succeeding at Ban’ei horses and making enough money to pay off the debt but they set up a pretty big flag that the business could go under at any point because it’s only surviving by a thread thanks to dedicated fans. I could see Mikage doing well then the business collapsing, leaving all of them back at square one. It would be a nice way to press the reset button but there’s also the chance her dreams go up in smoke and she doesn’t make it, putting everyone into an even tighter situation. Something like that would be a massive test for Hachiken so I can see that scenario playing out as well.
So many directions the story could go it. All we can do for now is root for Mikage and hope she can get into college. If you think about it. Rooting for Mikage being the only thing we can do is a lot like Hachiken helping her study is the only thing he can do for her. Nothing else can help. I wonder if the similarity in feelings was intended by Arakawa-san?