Happily, it seems as if last week’s ugliness was a mere aberration as opposed to the beginning of a death spiral, as Joukamachi no Dandelion rebounded with one of its best episodes this week after easily its worst. I’ve developed a considerable fondness for this series, but that debacle shook my confidence considerably, and it needed a boost. When so much is dependent on which of the cast is in focus in any given episode another misstep is always a worry, but the overall batting average is actually pretty good.
This ep was obviously so much better because of who it concentrated on, but also because it was light years ahead of the last in terms of tone and restraint. Shuu is one of the better characters to begin with, but the earlier chapter focused on he and Satou Hana was one of the show’s brightest to date. She’s back at last, first paired off with Akane in a light and pleasant story built around “breakdown” – the monthly period when the Sakurada siblings’ talents go out of control. Each of them have to take considerable precautions for their own reasons (even quarantine) but fortunately for Akane the ever-considerate Hana is at her side when Gravity Core causes a potentially disastrous wardrobe malfunction at a sidewalk cafe.
The meat of the episode is what comes after, though. In a euphoric moment Hana has announced on TV that she intends to “date Shuu with an eye towards marriage” (I can do without the wholly unnecessary incest drama with Kanade), which leads directly into the King, Shouichirou-san, telling his kids the story of how he came to meet his wife Satsuki. This is truly one of those moments that feels apart from the rest of the series – his rooftop meeting with the future queen, followed by a shopping trip and then dinner at the house she shares with four younger siblings, is quite restrained by Dandelion standards and really wonderful.
This is a charming tale in its own right, but the larger point is to remind us of the value of family (Shouichirou was a lonely only child), and of just how much Shuu-kun is like his father. This is important in the context of Shuu and Hana’s relationship, but also that of Shuu’s disinterest in trying to win the election. His father was a “boring face” kid who never smiled, but meeting Satsuki changed him (and I’m sure no one was happier than he to give his children a house full of siblings).
The upshot of all this is that Shuu resolves that he’s serious about Hana (there’s a rather uncomfortable breakdown-induced detour to… the Himalayas, maybe?), and also that he’s serious about becoming king. I would assume Shouichirou is quite popular – he seems like a nice guy and a man of the people, who seem prosperous – and the obvious fact that the apple fell very close to the true with Shuu could make him a very formidable candidate (especially if he’s learned to smile once in a while like Shou-san). And that would make the election (though I doubt we’ll see it resolved in the anime) a lot more interesting.