More than any other, this is the volume I’ve been waiting to re-read once it was announced that the “Silver Spoon” manga had been licensed for U.S. release. That’s because it finally introduces one of the most significant characters to the main story: Hachiken’s Dad, Kazumasa. (Really, it should be Yuugo’s Dad since Hachiken is the family name and I’ve just been messing it up since I started writing these reviews and… ah, let’s get on with it!) He’s only featured in ten pages of the first chapter, but the impression he makes is tremendous. That’s partly down to his intimidating character design, where every feature from his narrow eyes to permanent frown just radiates disapproval. It’s also due to how he systematically dismisses everything that Yuugo has accomplished at Ezo Ag with an efficiency that would be impressive it it weren’t so uncaring.
What makes Yuugo’s encounter with Kazumasa really memorable is what goes unsaid during its duration. The only mystery that “Silver Spoon” has maintained since it began is what caused its protagonist to get as far away from his family in Tokyo as he could. It isn’t spelled out for us here either. Yet watching Yuugo’s interactions with Kazumasa makes the reason for his actions more clear than any extended speech or internal monologue could. Yuugo’s helplessness in rebutting any of the points his dad brings up due to his intimidating presence feels quite relatable as well. It’s also telling that Kazumasa even brings out the serious side in Shingo in their brief encounter in the hospital.
This whole sequence in the opening chapter is a high point for the series and easily the most memorable part of the volume. While it’s nice to see Yuugo get back in time for the Agricultural Fest after-party and have a nice heart-to-heart with Aki about how all his effort allowed it to go off without a hitch, things get back into “wacky hijinks” mode pretty quickly. Which is fine since that’s “Silver Spoon’s” default state and one that it excels at. It’s just that the encounter with Kazumasa was transcendent by this title’s standards and it does leave you hoping the series would feel confident enough to give us drama like that a bit more often. Which it probably will if the final page of the last chapter in this volume is any indication.