The theme of growth through fellowship is continued in many anime; teamwork and hard work are values that are prized in Japanese culture, and they find their way into the stories of many forms of media, anime or otherwise. Silver Spoon takes the exploration of such themes to another level with its main character, Hachiken. Haichiken is a model student who transfers to the Ezonoo Agricultural High School, and the show starts off in a predictable manner: Hachiken is the city boy who learns that country people aren’t just hicks and they work together to succeed. But what the show does is that it uses that expectation to bring out the depth and personality of each character, both in Hachiken and in his classmates. Each of them has their own goals and desires, and the motives for and the way they attempt to achieve those goals are what makes each of them so fleshed out.
One of the first characters explored is Komaba, an imposingly built freshman who comes from a dairy farm. Starting off seeming like a stereotypical tough guy, Komaba doesn’t take his schooling lying down. He studies and works seriously to do his best, especially at his chosen sport: baseball. His natural skill as a pitcher takes their school team far, and he hopes to use his talent to get into a national team. But rather than using his skills for his own gain, he hopes to use the money he would earn to help his mother and younger siblings, who are left tending the farm since his father died. He continues to work on their farm when school lets out, but he knows that they won’t be able to keep it running for long, and that they can’t afford to try anything else. His selflessness moves Haichiken, who doesn’t understand why Komaba would try to shoulder such a responsibility alone. And this continues in various ways through the series: as Hachiken grows with Aikawa and his dreams of becoming a veterinarian, gets to know the stalwart businesswoman Tamako and her desire to take over her family’s farm, and aids Mikage in her quest to escape a future of farming, he learns how to empathize with them. The absence of the fierce competition among students for grades that was evident in his old school leaves room for Hachiken to grow as a person, learning how to work with those around him than against them, and he develops a genuinely caring personality.
It takes more than just a change in environment to change Hachiken; it also takes a difference in perspective, those perspectives offered by his various classmates. As he interacts with his friends, as they work, study, and relax together throughout the series, they grow closer to each other, and grow with each other. And Haichiken benefits as a result, becoming a more mature and understanding individual; learning how to be a true friend. The Christian life is very similar; while the outside environment of the church helps a lot, it is not until we have that circle of close, believing friends can we truly begin to be challenged in our faith. Our close friends can talk to us on a deeper, more personal level than most acquaintances, and we should us that to “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thess. 5:11) in the Lord, challenging each other day by day to live for Him. Paul’s letters to the various churches are filled with encouragement to bond together and live for Christ, even while he was imprisoned. In fact, adversity should only strengthen our bonds, as evidenced by the early Church, who stood together and did not compromise their beliefs in spite of the fierce persecution leveled against them. How much more should we, who have more opportunities to communicate than ever? As the week progresses, I encourage you to take time to speak to your close friends about their faith on a personal level. Take time to know their struggles and their needs, and ask God for the strength to be a friend to them. Only by banding together can we overcome this life.