Hachiken becomes the Club Vice President 「八軒、副部長になる」
Watching this opening episode of GnS season 2 takes me back to the time I saw the opening episode of the first season. Back then, Hachiken was getting used to the absurd wake-up time of 4am and lights out at 10pm but here, he’s so used to it after a year that it doesn’t seem anything out of the ordinary for him anymore. And it’s wonderful to see him grow to genuinely appreciate food so much. I liked GnS season 1 because it managed to combine drama and comedy in a realistic, coming-of-age setting that is still quite lacking in anime and I’m glad to say it continues with this episode.
I can’t say it enough that the world of agriculture is so far removed from us all that the misunderstandings arising from this becomes the comedy. Hachiken represents all the pubescent boys out there in blushing as his crush Mikage asks him to help look for her bra. She thinks nothing of it, which made me and probably all you other city folk wonder if there’s something different about countryside girls. She describes it in nosebleed-inducing details – big, black and expensive. How torturous it must’ve been for Hachiken to continue the conversation with a straight face! Until you realise, she’s talking about the bra meant for a cow. Yes, cows wear bras too. See, you learn something in every episode of GnS! Speaking of cows, the Holstein club provides the usual comedic relief in continuing their crazy obsession with cows to hilarious effect (cow porn magazine for example).
It’s almost a year since the beginning of GnS, which means year-end exams and club elections. Mikage’s an excellent equestrian because she grew up on a horse ranch. So in spite of everyone presuming she’d be elected as Vice President of the Equestrian club, to everyone’s surprise Hachiken gets elected instead. And herein is a lesson in life – it’s not the person who’s good at something who gets chosen for a role. It comes down to the personality required for the role itself. Hachiken’s doubtful he can fulfil his role as VP but as his seniors assure him, it’s his honest nature and unassuming self that will carry him through. Hachiken’s not the laid-back guy he visioned for himself entering Enozo. He’s not the nerdy bookworm he was in middle school, working hard just to get grades. He’s discovered a new him over the past year through the process, developed a reputation as the go-to guy who never says no. He’s trustworthy and has won his classmates over with his earnestness to learn. He’s easy to approach and in a gist, わかりやすい – easy to understand. He’s now a consensus builder who brings people together, miles away from his middle school isolated self. Whereas Mikage seems to avoid lowering her defences against others, something I didn’t quite notice before.
So why is it that Mikage is seen confiding and crying to Komaba (Hachiken’s self-imposed love rival) instead of with Hachiken? Even when he tries asking her about it Mikage changes the subject. So much for being the trusted guy everyone goes to… As we see towards the end of the episode, it’s obviously a matter that’s got Mikage distracted when she’s forgotten to lock the gate to the stables. Maybe it’s something to do with her family farm and so is something she feels only Komaba would understand?
Hachiken is not totally freed from his middle school insecurities we’ve seen in Season 1. He is still concerned about what his parents think – something I suppose we all identify with at some level. As it is, he’s already defied his Father’s wishes by not going to the top schools in Sapporo or work towards a place in Tokyo University. Perhaps he’s the sort who needs external approval in order to gain recognition for himself – maybe that’s why he never says no to others. Last season, Hachiken sent some of the smoked bacon he made himself (from scratch – rearing the piglet everyday, curing the pork, smoking the bacon) to his parents and in return, his mother sent him a text, which Hachiken (and the audience) lets out a cold sweat and holds bated breath at. Does she like it? Did he like it?
Already this opening episode promises yet another great season of Gin no Saji and I can’t wait to review it each week. The comedy is timely and woven beautifully with the drama and angst. For a show based in an agricultural high school, it’s a breath of fresh air amongst the Winter 2014 line-up of high school slice-of-life/coming-of-age anime that seem to all revolve around magic and the supernatural… I especially love how the students are motivated by food – BBQ for good exam results rather than doing well for its own sake; baseball team motivated to win because the coach would treat them sushi and not because they want to win in itself. And it’s always nice to hear earnest Kimura Ryouhei who juggles Tokyo Ravens (cool, laid-back voice) and Kuroko no Basket (cool as in かっこいい voice) this season.