First Impressions – Joukamachi no Dandelion

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Expectations are funny things.

The giant ball of suck that is Funimation finally decided to release Joukamachi no Dandelion, almost a week after it aired in Japan.  I’m not sure just when Funi decided its calling was to make the lives of English-speaking anime fans generally and bloggers especially a living hell, but they’re doing a bangup job of it.  Latecasts, hardsubs, horrendously bad encodes – they’re covering more bases than the grounds crew during a rain delay.

But OK, rant off…  On to Castle Town Dandelion, a case where (unfortunately) the build-up to the show was probably more interesting than the show itself.  I got a serious sleeper vibe from this one from the very beginning, and I have no idea why really – the manga isn’t especially exalted, and the studio and staff aren’t exceptional performers.  Sleeper radar – who can explain it, really?  I pride myself on mine being pretty good, and the last time I felt this strongly was probably Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita.  Yes, that was based on novels by the excellent Tanaka Romeo, but (it’s true) I had no idea of that when I initially glommed onto it as a sleeper – I just liked the concept art and the premise.

So what was it about Dandelion?  About the same thing, if I were to try and quantify a pure hunch – I liked the art, and the premise sounded so absurd that I thought it might just be clever (and maybe – I swear this just occurred to me – it reminds me a tiny bit of Kamisama Kazoku, which I thought was quite underrated).  That premise: nine siblings (6 sisters, 3 brothers) live in a suburban house with their father, the king.  Their every movement is monitored by surveillance cameras, and they have to appear on a reality TV “news” network dedicated to them.  Each of them has a superpower, and their father has decided that in a few months, there will be an election to decide which sibling will succeed him as king.  What, now?

OK, so sue me – there’s something in that absurdity that appeals to me.  And there is potential here, believe me, though based on the premiere I’m not sure the writing (mangaka Kasuga Ayumu has never written a series before, only done art) is up to the challenge.  There’s a mildly pleasing vibe to the premiere, a sort of warmth, and a few of the gags work decently.  But the satire doesn’t have the bite it needs to, and the first episode is generally much too bogged down in formula and tropes.  In anime form at least Joukamachi no Dandelion has heart, but it doesn’t have teeth.

My assumption is that we’re going to get rotating “chapters” based on the perspective of all nine siblings, with an update on poll results at the end (clearly the voters in this kingdom are otaku – the princesses monopolize the top six spots and the boys are mired in last).  And that middle princess Akane (Hanazawa Kana) will be a sort of co-lead in all of them, as she’s clearly the P.O.V. character of choice.  Her hook is that she’s absurdly shy, which makes the lifestyle she’s forced to lead horribly uncomfortable – she understandably has no interest in becoming king until mega-beloved senior sister Aoi (Kayano Ai) reminds her that if she did, she could ban the reality TV network and the security cameras and live in peace (I actually kind of doubt that, myself).

I can truthfully say that I’ve rarely wanted to like a show more than I want to like Castle Town Dandelion – I feel invested in it to an absurd and illogical degree.  And formulaic as the premiere was, I certainly didn’t dislike it – as I said there is a likeable warmth to it (the siblings and the parents seem to genuinely love each other) and Kasuga-sensei’s lovely art seems to have survived the trip largely intact.  I’ll give the series at least another couple of episodes, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed in the first one.

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6 comments

  1. F

    "The giant ball of suck that is Funi…."

    lol

    I also just finished my initial impressions post elsewhere, and generally I agree – there is definitely a likeable warmth to the series, but for me I would also add a calm charm. It is a Kirara series, though, so I don't know if I was necessarily expecting "bite" from it as much as moments of a quiet thoughtfulness. And of this it only had teeny hints. Like you I am waiting for future eps and still curious.

    And as for sleeper vibes – face it, you were temporarily overwhelmed by the cat's name! XD

  2. Eh? I didn't even know there was a cat! What's its name?

  3. F

    It popped up in the mid-ep eyecatch and was mentioned in the pre-season summaries of the series and its characters.

    It's name is Borscht. XD

  4. D

    Honestly, I quit watching after 14 minutes. I have nothing against absurdity, but I didn't find this in the least bit funny. Within that 14 minutes we got two panty jokes, had the game hosts deliver exposition on every power, and I overall didn't enjoy the main character's presence. I guess the part with "she could ban the reality TV network and the security cameras and live in peace" had to have come afterward, because I would have facepalmed at that notion.

    I don't deny the warm feelings though. I liked the first two minutes of just watching the family fight for the bathroom and then eat breakfast.

  5. G

    First you mention the visual gags how about the toilets flushing when Akane was told about all the toilets !

    How about when she covered up like a criminal when she was the hero ! That had me ROFL Those little sight gags are perfectly timed

    I think you missed a couple of good life lesson points !

    First is a a family with parents are part of the story ! Kinda nice to see that!

    Second is the anime a statement about modern times where everything is under a microscope overuse of the cameras / the TV news show / A TMZ made just for the royal family !

    Third Akane doesnt want to be under the limelight 24 / 7 and finds if she become King she can change things !

    Fourth having powers can be a problem ! As in Teru who climbs the building only to be too strong and gave the facade break! Then Hikari who makes a tree grow too tall ! Misaki and her clones with different personas!

    The dandelion theme and her wanting to be one was a nice point of view and I guess part of the title!

    Overall I really like it . Sometimes the story deosn't have to be great but how it is potrayed . This is one anime where the sum of its parts make it likable IMO

  6. P

    It's cute and likable, I'll tune in next couple of episodes to see how it turns out.

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