Joukamachi no Dandelion – 10/11

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It’s fitting for a series with two sets of twins to have a double episode.

Shows like Joukamachi no Dandelion come along every once in a while – forever hovering on the precipice between being subsumed by cliche and satirizing it.  Sometimes it’s quite intentional (Outbreak Company is one example), but in the case of this series I think it’s more a kind of split personality at work.  The writing itself can never quite transcend the reliance on tropes, but there’s an essence of something better at the heart of the story.

Given all that, it’s hardly surprising that this is a show that swings wildly between its good and bad episodes, probably more so than any this season.  The format plays into it too – each episode is already bifurcated as is, and then this week we get a double episode to boot.  It’s rare for me to have a series where I can find one ep literally almost unwatchable (like the first half of #10) and be quite enthralled by another (most of #11).  But with Castle Town Dandelion it’s a fairly regular occurrence.

I’m not even going to talk about the idol crap in the A-Part of Episode 10 – it’s Dandelion at its worst.  That and the unnecessary incest pandering are the low ebb for this series.  But things pick up markedly after that, starting with the B-Part and even more so in the next episode.  We get a fairly compelling chapter concerning Kanade’s unrelenting guilt over what happened to Shuu when they were kids (Akane was injured in the same incident, though less seriously), where Shuu confronts her at last over her reasons for wanting so badly to be king.

This is a good sibling story, with affection between twins that doesn’t descend to the romantic.  But I find the best chapters in Joukamachi are usually the ones which focus on the entire family, and that’s what we mostly get in Episode 11.  The first part does center on Akane, giving us the background story on how she became so shy.  It’s a bit of a letdown to the honest – I was expecting something more traumatic that that – but the B-Part is one of the best chapters in the series so far.

Things start out interestingly, as Shuu finally breaks up the otaku cliche of having the girls placed 1-6 in the polls by climbing to 5th.  Hana as campaign manager has certainly helped, as has Shuu finally having a reason why he might actually want to win.  But for me, it’s the characters who don’t want to be king who would probably be the best fits for the job.  That would be Aoi and Haruka of course, and while Aoi at least has a valid reason to want to lose (her power) Haruka seems deferential for no good reason.  But paradoxically it’s that deference that makes him so unlikely to abuse his power, and it’s the insight that makes his siblings rely on him for advice that would make him such a good ruler.

With Souichirou felled by a back injury (I feel you, Dude) at a critical juncture, everyone in the family has an opportunity to step up and shine – and that’s Joukamachi no Dandelion at its best.  Poor Teru gets to exert his power to help clear a mudslide on camera and finally gets a much-needed (if modest) boost in the polls.  Shuu and Scarlet Bloom (sans glasses) bring relief to the victims, and Aoi schmoozes with visiting foreign dignitaries.  In the wake of all this Shuu leaps to 4th in the polls, too, and it’s now a real race with he and the three eldest girls.

It’s the last shot of the episode that really stands out, though, because it captures the characters who are not just best-suited to be king, but have the most powerful abilities.  And Haruka’s reaction pretty much clues us in to what’s likely to happen – Aoi winning the election – though as he says, probabilities are just probabilities.  When push comes to shove, it’s probably better to have a candidate who’d rather not be king as the king – and essentially, I think the series has gone out of its way to show us that neither Akane or Kanade’s reasons for wanting to win the election are really valid.  Since this is still a series constrained by cliche Haruka really isn’t a factor, so I think that leaves Aoi and Shuu as the two realistic possibilities – and I suppose if I were a resident of this kingdom I’d be fine with either, especially if I didn’t know Aoi’s true ability.  But knowing her true ability makes the prospect of her winning that much more interesting from a narrative standpoint.

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5 comments

  1. R

    Your reaction to the first half of episode ten leads me to believe that you didn't actually WATCH the first half of episode ten so much as see that it was about Hikari and her idol career and decide that you were offended by it in advance. There was an enormous amount of emotional power in that segment, expertly refined by flawless musical direction. Hikari showed a significant amount of character depth and growth in refusing to betray her fans by trying to claim their support for her in the election, by recognizing that her friendship with Sachiko was too important to her to lose, and by recognizing that what she was doing as an idol was more important TO HER than attempting to gain support in an election that she didn't really have a reason to try to win.

    Sachiko's emotional wavering served as an excellent comparison point for us to see just how much of an effect those two girls have had on each other.

    Maybe it doesn't have the long-term story impact of seeing Kanade move past her obsession with trying to become king to heal Shuu, but it deserves FAR better than to be insulted and dismissed out of hand!

  2. G

    AS posted below it is cliche but has good points

    EP 10 :

    "Search Light's Method"

    Even though the Idol cliche is so overused in anime I give some credit for the life lessons Akane / Hikari / Sacchan. Hikari nowing she likes being an idol a lot and being upset about hiding her identity from Sacchan ! Sacchan saying that the Royals wouldnt have to work hard to do anything but upon finding Searchlight is Hikari respects her for working so hard and misunderstanding that she wants to quit ! Akane for seeing how hard Hikari / Sacchan work and knowing there is tension between the two! But things get resolved ! Life lessons for all !

  3. I did, and sorry – just not buying it. It was trite and silly as far as I'm concerned. Maybe not as bad as the last couple of idol chapters, but still bottom-feeder material.

  4. G

    I like this anime a lot despite it;s flaws ! It is funny / caring family members and not just for themselves / ans odten overlooked very good life lessons !

    I mostly agree with your take and wool give my thoughts ! By Segment !

    EP 10 :

    "Search Light's Method"

    Even though the Idol cliche is so overused in anime I give some credit for the life lessons Akane / Hikari / Sacchan. Hikari nowing she likes being an idol a lot and being upset about hiding her identity from Sacchan ! Sacchan saying that the Royals wouldnt have to work hard to do anything but upon finding Searchlight is Hikari respects her for working so hard and misunderstanding that she wants to quit ! Akane for seeing how hard Hikari / Sacchan work and knowing there is tension between the two! But things get resolved ! Life lesoons for all !

    "Onii-chan Facing Big Brother" Walking near any kind of steel beam is dangerous in this anime !

    But Kanade still fretting ovev Shuu / and her reason to become King comes to a head ! She is going shopping ( Aoi finally got a break ) Just that the family is not pampered and has to act as a family is a big life lesson! But after spotting Shuu / Sato she tries to avoid them ! She relects on back to that day when the accident occurred and been regetful since then! But Shuu appears after sending Sato home because od weather and they have a fight why she wants to be king ! She runs off and resucued by Shuu from the steel beams He chides her for her reason to be King ! Finally ending her saying she lets go !

    EP 11:

    "Goodbye Scarlet Bloom"

    Yes having the family together made a great episode how far have they come ! They are a close nice family like "Summer Wars " Able to act in time of a crisis !

    I rwally like the backstory about why Aoi became shy ! Whwn she was young she had to be escorted by Bodyguards abd wanted to play with Karen but diidnt want her secority team to scare her so Akane gives them the slip by using her power ! But when they get to Karen's house byrgalars are there and the Alake's power reminds me of "Home Alone " But antway after being a hero she fells threathned by everybody looking at her ! As Kanade finishes the story they get news about their father !

    Soichiro gets hurt by trying to carry Satsuki ! He has many presiin matters so the family is assigned to differeent tasks ! Documents , Oficials visiting and a mudskide isolating a village ! So Shuu/ Akane and Teru go ! The road is blocked so Teru starts to unblock it and Shuu / Akane teleport to the village where Shuu and Akane just being there is a big help and when the first thing they need is water so Shuu teleports teleports and brings back a tanker truck which makes everybody laugh and the road is cleared! Akane does al kinds of beeds big and small bet after rescusing a cat a girl gives her the glasses she dropped. Knowing she dont need them Saus goodbye to Scarlett Bloom ! As the girl holds her hand she remebers that day with Karen!

    To the end the polls are very close but does Haruka know the winner ( Aoi ?)

  5. E

    I was a little annoyed by the girder scene (how thoughtful of them to save a relationship yet again). It felt like that event was resolved a little too neatly for something built up for so long, and Shu seemed really dismissive to me about Kanade's feelings. The burglary stuff was also a little dumb and overplayed imo, I also felt a little disappointed but Im glad that they decided to show something explaining Akane's shyness in the first place, something that helped the B part work as well as it did. Looks like the show is going to show the result of who will win, its nice that we can get a proper conclusion to one of the shows airing this season at least…

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