My two comedy picks for winter 2016 were pretty good in my opinion. While they won’t blow your mind, or make you think of comedy in a new light they were a nice deviation from the school setting that so many comedies take place in. My first comedy pick was a delightful romp through a fantasy world featuring an all star cast of weirdos. While I’m comfortable calling Konosuba my favorite comedy of winter 2016, my fourth pick of winter 2016 was no slouch in the humor department. While it’s not a show for everyone, I’m sure the vast majority of non-prudes will enjoy…
Dagashi Kashi is one of the strangest and most interesting comedies I’ve seen. Brought to us by studio “feel.” (yes that’s how it’s spelled, minus the quotation marks), this anime was very highly anticipated by fans of the acclaimed manga series. The cast for Dagashi Kashi includes one of my favorite seiyuu, Ayana Taketatsu, who is the voice of such characters as Azusa of K-On!, and Kotori from Date A Live. The animation in this show isn’t remarkable, but it does somewhat shine in the character animations for Saya and Hotaru. Characters are really what comedies are about after all, and this shows two female leads steal the show in the best kind of way. However, before I jump into the characters first allow me to give you a rundown of this show’s “plot”.
The story begins with a young man refusing to take over his father’s dagashi (snack) shop. Kokonotsu Shikada (often called Coconuts) soon meets Hotaru Shidare, an eccentric heiress to a dagashi company. Hotaru announces that her company wants Yo (Kokonotsu’s father) to come work for them, but Yo protests that he cannot leave until Kokonotsu takes over the family dagashi shop. From here Hotaru’s mission is to try to convince Kokonotsu that dagashi is worthy of dedicating your life to by constantly quizzing him on the of snacks in Japan. Kokonotsu’s childhood friend (Saya Endou) attempts to help Hotaru in keeping him in the unassuming dagashi shop, because she has a crush on Kokonotsu. Now take most of that knowledge and throw it out, because this show focuses on the overarching narrative the way a child with ADHD focuses on anything.
The plot is sometimes referenced here or there, but the majority of the show focuses on simply describing dagashi to the audience. At times it felt like a 30 minute advertisement for Japanese candy with heavy emphasis on comedy. This somewhat baffled me because if this show were meant for a Japanese audience, why would they need to explain Japanese snack foods? Whether this show was meant to be Japanese snack propaganda, or a simple light hearted comedy featuring junk food, it still resonated with anime fans this season. However, this connection to the show was less a mater of the show’s “storytelling” and more about the characters involved, so allow me to introduce you to our three main characters.
Our protagonist in this series and heir to the Shikada Dagashi shop, Kokonotsu, spends most of the show enthralled by Hotaru’s strange demeanor. The pretense of him wanting to be a mangaka is rarely revisited so he spends a vast majority of the show playing straight man to Hotaru’s eccentric nature. While he often protests to the idea of running the family snack shop, his knowledge and passion for dagashi suggest that he will eventually agree to take over the shop.
While he certainly isn’t a bad character, he is very much a cut-and-paste teenage boy protagonist. An easily embarrassed, slightly perverted, nice guy character isn’t exactly breaking the mold in anime these days. The only thing he really has going for him is that he has a fun name. Still, he works for what he’s meant to do, and gives some balance to the more ridiculous characters. He most certainly isn’t my top male protagonist of winter 2016, but he isn’t the worst either. Huzzah mediocrity!
Hotaru is definitely the most interesting character of the show, with some of the strangest dialogue I’ve ever seen in anime. Her character animation is strangely endearing as it often leaves her looking slightly cross-eyed, but for some odd reason this does not detract from appeal in the slightest. Hotaru does revisit her backstory often enough, using dagashi trivia to try to draws out Kokonotsu’s inner desire to run the shop, but it’s not often enough to warrant praise for the writing.
At the end of the day this character does what she needs to do. She’s funny, she’s unconventional, and she’s good looking. However, outside these traits she’s doesn’t really have a whole lot going on for her. Every episode is another lesson in, “Why Hotaru loves [Insert Dagashi]”, and eventually I got a little bored of her storylines. Hotaru does have a little moment with Kokonotsu, but the show ends soon after leaving any sense of story completion up in the air. I liked Hotaru quite a bit, but she got a little too repetitive for my tastes.
Saya is Kokonotsu’s childhood friend, and the waitress at the local coffee shop. She’s the pure tsundere to Hotaru’s oblivious eccentric, and often she plays into Hotaru’s plans to get Kokonotsu to stay in town. Saya’s desire to keep Kokonotsu in town stems from romantic feelings for him, and we see these feelings manifest often in her mini arcs with him. This character serves to balance out Hotaru as the adorable tsundere in the show. Her character art, like Hotaru’s, is beautiful despite her strange eye design.
I enjoyed Saya’s character the most in Dagashi Kashi, and I’m willing to say that she’s what kept me coming back week-to-week. While Hotaru’s brash nature and sometimes ecchi actions were hilarious to behold, eventually her comedy grew a little stale. Saya’s tsundere nature and the promise of a possible romance between her and Kokonotsu kept me invested in the show even though it never really pans out. She’s definitely the best girl of the show, and warrants mention even if the show sometimes does not.
TL;DR At the end of the day Dagashi Kashi isn’t a bad show, but not a great show either. As previously stated it sometimes feels like a 30 minute ad for Japanese snacks, and the comedy has a tendency to get a little repetitive. If these are things you can put up with, then it’s not a bad comedy for you to binge though.
Recommended Audiences: This show gets can get pretty ecchi, so no children allowed here. I’d say this is a late teens to adult type show, but the teen recommendation is of course parental approval dependent.
Dagashi Kashi is stricken by a mouth ulcer, but bounces back to 3.5/5 HP
Watch it today on Funimation!