Over Silver Spoon 5 Hiromu Arakawa keeps away from almost all structured learning at the agricultural school as there are other matters to concern the students. Yuugo’s found a stray puppy that needs trained, there’s the equestrian display for the Yezo cultural festival to consider and the crew head along to watch Ichiro pitch a baseball game. There are lessons to be learned, but they’re not academic lessons, instead concerning character and principle. For all his self-doubt, those are two qualities Yuugo has in abundance, even if he doesn’t always recognise it himself. However, a primary problem is enforcing his authority on animals, his every command ignored.

Although Arakawa approaches it sideways on, that lack of authority becomes the prevailing theme of this volume. She builds events toward small moments very effectively, bringing out how the cast rub along, using Yuugo and his introspection as the primary voice. It’s a very rare scene where if not centre stage, he won’t be observing what’s going on, and if often not quite getting what people are trying to tell him, he compensates with dedication. His occasional misunderstandings supply the comedy, yet Arakawa’s skill is such that it’s impossible not to sympathise with Yuugo. It occurs that she’s distinguished Silver Spoon from similar material about teenage uncertainty via the setting, but for all the snippets of process and nature readers pick up, Arakawa’s primary concern is moving the cast through their feelings and problems

Because she’s so good at wrapping us up in those, it’s sometimes going to pass anyone by what a prime component her artistic subtlety is. While there is some of the exaggeration common to Japanese comics, it’s possible to look at almost any page and notice a glance or expression that speaks volumes. Readers already caught up in Silver Spoon can find more of what they love here, but it’s possibly not the volume to pick up as your first, as it’s dependent to a large extent on the personalities so carefully drawn over the first four books. We head into the Equestrian Tournament in Silver Spoon 6.