One perspective on the events of Silver Spoon vol. 5 is that it’s a portrait of a boy slowly being crushed by the weight of his obligations. With the annual Ezo Ag school festival approaching, Hachiken finds himself increasingly overcommitted to making it a success. In addition to his obligations to the equestrian club, which include building a track for draft horse racing, he’s got to do stuff for his classes, dorm, and student council as well. Oh, and he also needs to find a way to bond with Chestnut so that the horse will actually want to perform with him. If this all sounds incredibly dramatic, you’d do well to recall that “Silver Spoon’s” default setting has always been “extremely goofy.” Even as Hachiken’s obligations threaten to overwhelm him, it’s done in a way that manages to wring some surprisingly warm-hearted humor out of his situation. This approach arguably sacrifices drama at the expense of humor, giving the proceedings an overtly frivolous feel. Yet it all feels like part of the plan when mangaka Hiromu Arakawa has Hachiken’s insecurities about being a good student puncture the good times at key points.
Meanwhile, over at Shuchiin Academy summer vacation is just about to wrap up and Kaguya and Shirogane haven’t been able to meet once during that time. Will they be able to get together during the local fireworks festival? As Kaguya-sama: Love is War vol. 5 shows, it winds up being the most dramatic and romantic event in the series to date. When complications threaten to prevent Kaguya from attending, Shirogane springs into action to show her (and the reader) what a smooth operator he can be. It’s a mini-arc that will have you rooting for the two of them to finally confess their feelings for each other -- but not just yet. That’s because this arc is surrounded on both sides by the kind of quality silliness this series has always had an abundance of. From Chika’s unwittingly master-level ramen-eating, Hayasaca’s inability to take a relaxing bath, to the entire student council’s anxiety over finding out whether or not two students have achieved “nirvana” together there’s so much energy and creativity on display that it actually makes the leads’ holding pattern surprisingly bearable.