Gin no Saji Review: When Anime Meets Harvest Moon

Hey there, long time no see… and nobody cares. Alright, I know I said I’ll be doing a review of my favorite slice of life anime, Gin no Saji, during the first season of the anime. But, I decided to wait till the second season because I wanted to see more of the story before passing out judgment. But first, it’s the Year of the Horse, so…

horsememe

You’re welcome.

Gin no Saji is an anime created by the person who brought us one of the most epic anime series of all time, Full Metal Ball-chemist. Sorry, Alchemist. The name? If you claim to be an otaku, you should know. It’s Arakawa Hiromu. Now, Arakawa-sensei, after finishing FMA, discovered Harvest Moon. The sensei got so addicted to it, she poured hundreds of hours into it. When she finally had enough, she couldn’t get it out of her system and she needed a manga to work on after the FMA series ended. Under Harvest Moon’s influence, she decided that otakus had enough trashy moe and declared to create the best slice of life to compete with FMA. And boom! Gin no Saji was born.

I was joking, of course. If you believed any of that, I feel sorry for you. Here, read the actual backstory behind Arakawa and Gin no Saji.

But really, those who’ve played Harvest Moon: Back to Nature should be able to relate to the protagonist of the series, Hachiken Yuugo. He’s a city boy who only knows how to study. Because he had a row with his parents, he decided to attend school as far away as he could get. He landed in Ezonoo Agricultural School, thanks to some help from his former teacher.

He thought he could just study his way to become a farmer. Oh boy was he wrong. DAMN WRONG.

And that why studying sucks.
And that why studying sucks.

Unlike our character in HM:BTN, Hachiken had to learn the basics of agriculture the hard way. And of course, he didn’t have Mythril farming equipment. Waking up at 4 AM for barn duty, attending the equestrian club, formal studies, and lights out at 10 PM becomes the routine for Hachiken. It seems that the only reason he’s alive is Mikage Aki, the stunning beauty of the equestrian club who captured Hachiken’s heart from the beginning.

Story (5/5)

Farming and agriculture is a theme rarely explored in anime. That’s because the anime fanbase is chock-full of retarded weeaboos and creepy otaku who only want fans service, boobs, and cute girls who they can masturbate to and make body pillows out of. Arakawa actually went out of her way to explore one of the rarer fields in anime. The results? An amazing and almost-realistic story of how a lost teenager finds his path.

Gin no Saji gives us a flowing story that is both touching and funny at the same time. The story has a nice pace. You can feel normal at one point and get gradually serious along the way, only to be sighing in relief once the episode nears its end. The story really connects with the viewer, especially during the time when Hachiken was taking care of Pork Bowl, the piglet. The anime really puts you in Hachiken’s shoes. When Pork Bowl became (literally) bacon and everyone was eating it, you can grasp the emotion that the anime brings. I almost cried when Hachiken labored himself to make bacon and sell it off.

You raised the pig yourself. And you see to it that it becomes delicious meat.
You raised the pig yourself. And you see to it that it becomes delicious meat.

And it’s not just that. The story is rife with moral lessons, intended for lost Japanese teenagers who can’t decide on their path in life. When watched closely, every episodes conveys at least one message centered on the theme: “Live your life the way you choose” and “Don’t give up, there’s always a way”. This can really be seen when Hachiken decided to work at Mikage’s house during the summer and when he met his elder brother.

Wise words from an anime. Real wise words, not cliche crap.
Wise words from an anime. Real wise words, not cliche crap.

And who could forget when Hachiken saw a chicken being decapitated? Perhaps that is the most important lesson the anime teaches us: how food gets to our plates. It teaches you the meaning of life, served in anime-style. I don’t know about you, but after this anime ends, I’m going vegan.

I don't know about you guys, but I'm quitting meat after seeing this.
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m quitting meat after seeing this.

Let’s also not forget one of the best aspects of the story: the occasional humor inserted in serious moments. These jokes actually catch you off guard and are really hilarious just because of that. And no, the humor is not anime girls slipping and showing off their panties.

JUSTICE! BACON IS JUSTICE!
JUSTICE! BACON IS JUSTICE!

What’s the best part? No crappy fans service, no girls talking in high-pitched artificial voices, and no showing off boobs or panties! Woohoo!

But there’s always a drawback. I can’t seem to find anything to tie the plot together except the whole farming theme. I guess I’ll have to face it: this anime lacks an adhesive. The episodes sometimes wander about without a clear arc. There’s likely not gonna be an epic finish like FMA. But since this is a slice-of-life anime (and a good one), I’m sure we can all forgive that.

Art and Graphics (4/5)

gin-6

If you’ve watched FMA, then you’ll recognize Arakawa’s drawing style. Yep, all of the characters are different, even the background characters! And don’t forget the characters with the special physical traits in FMA; they’re back (with more human appearances) as teachers and adults in Gin no Saji! Arakawa doesn’t design overly cute girls; she draws them as realistic as possible, but not too realistic to maintain the anime element. Take a look at Tamako, the chubby rich girl, and Mikage, the female protagonist.

What’s next? The almost-realistic “farmy” feel you get when you see how intricate the animators made the backgrounds, various equipment, and farm animals. Especially the farm animals. Now I know real-life farm animals aren’t that cute, especially pigs. I’ve been to a pig pen myself a few times. Not the slick, industrial ones regulated by the government; but the smelly, muddy, and gross ones in small homes in the country. But it’s anime. It’s cool. They did their research alright.

Music (3.5/5)

Music is not a selling point for this anime. The background music is pretty standard and the OP for the first season is just… plain. I liked the ED songs though (both seasons), especially “Hello Especially” by Sukima Switch. It has that country-feeling to it and would be great as a campfire song when y’all be camping out in the woods with a banjo, beer, and loaded shotguns.

Verdict (5/5)

Because dual-wielding swords is too mainstream. And because fuck you, Kirito.
Because dual-wielding swords is too mainstream. And because fuck you, Kirito.

Let me point out three things which summarizes this entire review and be reasons why you should watch this anime:

One. The anime has heart and will probably share it with you if you don’t have one.

Two. It teaches us a lesson. Scratch that, MANY lessons about life, morality, and friendship.

Three. It has no crappy fans service.

Four. It has BACON.

Wait, that was four… Anyway, this is a really recommended anime for you to watch. But again, this anime is not for everyone. If you’re looking for something to masturbate to, this is obviously not your thing. Unless you have a thing for cows like the three weirdos in the club that worships cows. See you around!

 

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One thought on “Gin no Saji Review: When Anime Meets Harvest Moon

  1. Arakawa is from a really old Hokkaido farming family. She grew up working on the farm and went to agricultural high school like this one. So I think the manga is a very personal project for her.

    Like

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