9 CommentsTwelve Days / By Inushinde /

12 Days #9: I Nearly Cried When a Pig Was Killed For Food

Silver Spoon fuck I can't handle this

With the very questionable and novel moments out of the way, now comes the stream of moments that are simply some of the best executed—and yes, Symphogear and Girls und Panzer are going to make the list. But first comes the pig-slaughtering episode of Silver Spoon, because I have a weakness for episodes where I know cute and loveable animals are going to die.

Almost the entirety of Silver Spoon is about exposing the quirks of farm life and future farmers to greenhorn Hachiken, without shying away from the moral and financial problems that the field has in the modern world. Traditional family-run farms are being portrayed as something of a dying noble art, the romance behind sustaining oneself with one’s own hands replaced by cold, hard machinery. It’s hardly cynical, even presenting more automated operations in a positive light, but these points are brought to the fore and laid bare with no hesitation. Where it truly excels, though, is in making the common slaughter of a pig one of the most gut-wrenching inevitabilities of the year.

Silver Spoon presents Hachiken growing attached to a piglet, appropriately named Pork Bowl, as a cute moment embedded in a sea of several others. We see him and the piglet get closer as the series goes on, with the Student Chatter of Damocles always quick to remind him that the animal is going to be slaughtered, no matter how attached he gets to it. Giving it a name and setting it apart from its siblings will only make their inevitable separation harder. Meanwhile, he’s gaining the skills he needs to steel himself for the day of reckoning. When it finally comes, we know enough about Hachiken to know that he’ll make the right choice. He won’t do it happily, but he knows that he can’t hang on to an animal that’s sentenced to death for the crime of deliciousness.

If Silver Spoon were a lesser show, the fateful moment of Pork Bowl’s departure would somehow save him from the chopping block. But, as has been established, the show does not flinch from the harsh realities of being torn from a cute animal, its mournful cries accusing you of betrayal as it’s loaded into the back of a truck. Hachiken offering money for Pork Bowl isn’t to save the pig from death, but to cook and share its choicest cuts with his classmates. Hell, snippets of animals being butchered and drained of blood are animated as part of a film that Hachiken’s class has to watch, which goes a long way toward driving the point home that this shit isn’t pleasant, but it is reality. Succulent, mouth-watering reality.

NowIReallyWantPorkChops

This entire episode is by far one of the most sublime that’s aired in the past few years. It doesn’t seek to change Hachiken, but to present to him and the audience the cold, objective truth of slaughtering animals for food—namely that it isn’t pretty. It even says “Yeah, slaughtering animals can be morally iffy from a certain perspective. It’s cool if you think so, we respect that.” Hachiken does change, but not in his treatment toward what could be his dinner a few months down the line. That’s all his choosing, feeling separated from the relaxed grip that the show has on his development.

Silver Spoon has always made its characters feel fluid and natural in their interactions and development, but Hachiken’s crisis of faith toward the slaughter of livestock is the graceful crowning jewel. Cheers to the anime that brought me to the closest I’ve been to a sobbing wreck in years.

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9 Comments

  1. NormalMar
    Posted December 17, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    I DID tear up. Silver Spoon’s last episodes were definitely some of my favorites this year.

  2. Shinmaru
    Posted December 17, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    I don’t like pork all that much, but Pork Bowl looked pretty delicious.

    • Inushinde
      Posted December 18, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      I’d hit that. Repeatedly with a meat tenderizer. Before frying.

  3. Cobrah
    Posted December 17, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Pork Bowl was far too cute to live. And this show made me so hungry all the time. Super excited for the rest of it next season!

  4. Posted December 17, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    This show really makes you think and appreciate the food that’s on your table. An excellent watch!

  5. Cirith
    Posted December 17, 2013 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    As a vegetarian I can just go ahead and judge the people in the anime and every meat eater the same way as if they slaughtered their pet cat!
    Nah just kidding, I’m mostly vegetarian because I can’t quite decide on my feelings on the matter.
    Anyway if the pig had survived that would have been such a cop out, though I wouldn’t call him saving the pig wrong just maybe hypocritical.

  6. Nagisa33
    Posted December 18, 2013 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    Maybe this is a message about the state of the anime industry. Moe is cute and something that the industry has grown attached to, much like Pork Bowl. The cuteness needs to be looked past in order to progress! Hahahaha!

    The subplot that really hit home for me was with the guy who wanted to become a vet. He didn’t look away no matter how uncomfortable it was. When someone is asked about why they want to become vets they might say, “because I love animals.” Loving animals is great but helping them is different. The job comes with taking an animal’s life or seeing animals in unhealthy states. That’s the reality of it. Like any job, there’s going to be some parts that aren’t glamorous but they are necessary.

  7. Thrashy
    Posted December 18, 2013 at 2:42 am | Permalink

    It was the fair episode that summed my thoughts on the issue up:

    Hachiken: Maybe I could become a vegetarian.
    Mikage: Wanna pork dumpling?
    Hachiken: DAMN YOU ANIMALS WHY ARE YOU SO DELICIOUS

    I’m not a farm kid myself, but there are ranchers in the family, so I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my hamburger had a face once. I am at peace with that, but I find Silver Spoon’s exploration of the ethics around farm animals — for meat or otherwise — to be thought-provoking all the same.

  8. Yo
    Posted July 3, 2014 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    As a vegean I CAN just go ahead and say that with every meat eater, it IS as if they slaughtered their pet cat. Or dog.

    Or more likely, someone else’s. The only difference is that it is an animal you don’t personally know.

    If your choice is to look the other way and exclaim sensory words like yum and delicious, so be it. YOUR choice.

    But reality is reality. And animals are animals.

    Period.

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