May Contain Spoilers
This is a really fun series. Who would have thought that life at an agricultural high school could be so exciting? Certainly not Hachiken, who is only attending Ezo Ag to get as far away from his parents as possible. The series follows his daily activities, which by all accounts should be pretty darn boring, because scooping manure from horse stalls and fattening up piglets really isn’t all that exciting. But somehow Hiromu Arakawa makes these farming chores page-turners.
The volume starts with Hachiken undertaking the daunting task of making pizza for his roommates using the brick oven they discovered in the garbage pile. Before he knows it, Hachiken is in charge of making enough pizza for the whole campus, using only ingredients grown at the high school. I don’t like cooking and I enjoyed following him around as he collected helpers and pizza fixings, as well as some new friends.
Then Hachiken learns that the dorms will be closed for refurbishment during the summer break. Oh the horror! What is he going to do. He certainly does not want to go home. When Mikage asks if he’d like to help work at her family’s farm, he jumps at the idea. What he doesn’t count on is a lack of cell phone reception, bears, and the long distances between neighbors. And learning to butcher a deer? No, that was not in his summer plans.
The insight into farming and livestock tending in rural Japan is interesting. Hachiken is a total city boy and is completely at a loss in his new environment. Things he took for granted, like cell reception and local pizza delivery, are non-existent, and attitudes towards animals and food are hard at first to reconcile. As he gets to know his classmates, he’s also opening up, and letting people get to know him. He is at loose ends, though, as he learns about his classmates’ goals and ambitions for the future. Outside of getting away from home, he has none, and that is probably what makes him so relatable for me. He is such a smart guy, but he is so mired down by his feelings of inadequacy because of his parents.
I was going to skip this series because I deal with enough horse poop on a weekly basis, but I’m glad I borrowed it from the library. This is a fun, solid read.
Grade: 4.25 stars
Review copy borrowed from my local library
About the book:
The discovery of a brick oven on campus prompts the only logical response from the students of Ooezo Agricultural High School: a pizza party!!! City-boy Hachiken has been nominated to oversee the process, but he quickly discovers how much work is involved in securing each and every ingredient that goes into making the perfect pizza. United by a common hunger, students from every discipline contribute the necessary flour, cheese, meat, and other toppings. Everyone is waiting expectantly-but can Hachiken deliver?!