It’s been a bit touch-and-go with Castle Town Dandelion but in the end, I think this series makes the cut. And that makes me pretty happy, because I really wanted this show to work, and not just because I’d pegged it as a sleeper going into the season. Usually, a season will have a series for which my anticipation exceeds my objective analysis of it – one I look forward to every week more than I can explain logically. And for summer, this is that series.
With this episode I think we’ve broken the Star Trek curse, and it’s safe to be even again. This episode wasn’t as flat-out funny as #2 and #4, but it didn’t try to be. Rather, it was quite an interesting episode because it focuses on a couple of interesting characters, the middle siblings Haruka and Misaki. Like Shuu and Kanade they’re twins, though this pair seems somewhat closer than their older counterparts.
The POV character this time is second son Haruka. I like Haruka because he’s quite different than his siblings – rather quiet and sober – and because his “Lots of Next” ability is the hardest to pin down. It doesn’t seem like much at first flush, but the more we see it the more I’m convinced it may actually be the most powerful. We see it first this week at the beach, where Haruka applies it to the traditional watermelon-bashing game amongst his siblings. This is probably the funniest scene of the episode – the beach turns out to have been a fake put up by Shuu to fool his siblings into thinking that could go to the beach like normal kids, and the watermelon game boils down to an act of harirkiri by Suica-san out of affection for Shiori (which validates Haruka’s prediction). At least he gets a proper burial by the two youngest children (the rind, anyway).
This beach scene shows off an interesting (that word again) hint of rivalry between Haruka and Kanade – who, if I had to pick, seems to have the poorest relations with her relations – but doesn’t dig too deeply. Instead we quickly segue to Akane catching Haruka looking at pics of her on the internet. Yes, she should have knocked, but no, her natural assumption as to why her 14 year-old brother is looking at her in such a way is misguided. Turns out Haruka is trying to get her pictures (which apparently include panty-shots) taken off a fansite because he knows how shy Akane is. This isn’t really here for comic effect, seemingly, but just to give us another example of the siblings looking out for each other.
Finally, we get out first extended appearance by Haruka’s twin Misaki, whose ability is “All For One” – she can create up to seven clones of herself. It’s more straightforward than Haruka’s (well – all the siblings’ abilities are) but also intriguing in practice. Turns out the copies follow a “Seven Deadly Sins” template, each expressing a facet of Misaki’s nature (Lust is a brocon, apparently) and Misaki gets jealous of them for stealing attention for her. I found it especially hilarious when she summoned them later to have someone to listen to her complain (I suspect many 14 year-olds would do just that), but generally speaking, Misaki is pretty likeable – she’s a cue anime girl, but she’s not over the top about it.
I’m not crazy about how Joukamachi no Dandelion is playing up all these sibling crushes – I’d really hoped this was the sort of series that would steer clear of that nonsense. But so far at least it doesn’t appear to be dealing with them in an egregiously puerile or exploitative way, and that’s a good thing because it’s the very natural affection between the Sakurada siblings that’s the series’ best attribute. I also like the fact that it’s willing to insert teasing little hints at the nuances of those relationships without hitting us over the head about it. – this is a show that’s capable of both subtlety and restraint, which sets is apart from much of the competition.