Joukamachi no Dandelion still hasn’t quite closed the sale for me. It’s close – I get a very positive vibe from this show generally, and the sibling dynamic is especially well portrayed. But the individual chapters have been uneven, and this episode on the whole was certainly not as strong as last week’s. I still think it’s likely to be a keeper, but I just need a little bit more from this series before I’m sure.
As with the mini-episodes, there’s a little bit of inconsistency with he characters too. With nine siblings of course it’s inevitable that some are going to be stronger characters than others, but the balance when the dust settles is going to be crucial – I don’t think two or three are going to be able to carry the rest with a premise and format like this one. This week’s chapters focused on the second tier siblings – in terms of age, poll status, and seeming predominance in the narrative (though it’s too early to know for sure about that) – and as you’d expect, it was a bit of a mixed bag.
Ten year-old Hikari is an elementary schooler with big dreams – she wants to be king and then some, though her poll results are the worst of the girls. Her seiyuu, Ogura Yui, has not historically been one of my favorites and she’s a lot to take here – this is a very precious performance, which is Ogura’s norm. Hikari is also a bit of an airhead (though perhaps not unusually so for her age) and when she uses her “God Hand” power (she can age up or age down herself, other people, plants or animals for 24 hours) it’s usually misguided and causes more trouble than it’s worth. But it is pretty amusing that when she ages herself up to rescue what will become the royal cat Borscht from a tree (instead of just making the tree younger), she unwittingly proves that last week’s “cat” joke was quite intentional.
Next we get a look at Teru, the youngest prince and another sibling who also isn’t the sharpest knife in this drawer – though again, it’s mostly normal eight year-old boy goofiness. Teru does have a bit of a “My First Chuunibyou” thing going though, and he convinces Shuu to let him perform a “trial” – doing the grocery shopping (Akane and Hikari switch ages for the second time in the episode to stealthily keep an eye on them). Teru’s “Limit Over” power is effectively super strength, which he employs in the protection of youngest sibling Shiori – though in general, she’s more level-headed than he is. She can talk to animals, plants and inanimate objects via her “Soul Mate” power (which seems very Shinto to me) – handy, no doubt, though the dogs in the Sakurada’s neighborhood are pretty much douchebags if this episode is anything to go on.
In our last chapter Hikari is teamed up with Haruka, the middle brother, as she cooks up a harebrained scheme to help her poll numbers by becoming an idol. Again she ages up to middle school so as to avoid the requirement for a guardian to be present when she enters an idol contest, but Haruka catches her raiding his twin sister’s closet. He ends up showing an unexpected side, though, when he gets entirely too into the idea and decides to become her manager. Haruka has the potential to be interesting – he seems intellectually inclined, and I think his “Lots of Next” power is a sleeper, potentially the strongest we’ve seen so far. Knowing the possibilities in any situation may not sound like much, but used wisely, it can come pretty close to being able to accurately predict the future.
All of this ends up being for naught when the idol contest requires a photo ID for entry – but that’s when things get weird. While it’s played for comedy here (mostly) the bit where Hikari ends up being recruited in the park was actually pretty scary (and no, it would not have been fine if she’d actually been a middle schooler). That sort of thing does happen in Japan, and it creeps me the fuck out – and Haruka was quite right to be furious at Hikari for walking off with a strange man and not telling him where she was going (the second time this ep she’d wandered away from an older sibling). Still, when the truth comes out Dad is only too willing to allow Hikari to be an idol – no doubt for the possible LOLs he’ll get from it – but given that she has to do it under an alias, it does her poll numbers no good whatsoever. Where’s that knife sharpener when you need one?