You know, expectations are merely prejudices when you strip away all the artifice. Did Joukamachi no Dandelion live up to mine? Did it surpass them? It doesn’t really matter – it was what it was. And what was that? A solidly enjoyable if inconsistent comedy with a good heart and some impulses that occasionally derailed it. When the season started I had it pegged as my top sleeper, despite a relative lack of concrete reasons to feel that way. And it did indeed end up being a much better show that it looked like on paper, at least to me.
In the final analysis I don’t think Castle Town Dandelion was a show that was too interested in breaking down barriers or reinvention. It was solidly a genre show, overfond of convention perhaps, but it was mostly redeemed by its sunny disposition and relatively clever premise. If it did take any risk it was in crafting an anime-original ending rather than just stopping in the middle like most adaptations of ongoing manga, but I think the nature of the story clearly leant itself to doing so.
Original endings can be a blessing or a curse, of course. But in shows with no chance of a sequel it is kind of nice to have an actual ending, and with the entire narrative built around the election it was easy enough for Dandelion to give us one. I have no idea if the final result in the manga will be the same, but in the anime’s context the result made a lot of sense. In fact I think one could say it’s been foreshadowed for several episodes.
As I mentioned here last time, it was pretty much down to Shuu and Aoi as realistic candidates to win – and Aoi had a very good reason not to want to win, as interesting as it would have been had she done so. In fact she takes herself out of the running altogether and spills the beans to the public about her true ability, which begs the question of whether she would have won had she not. And the question of whether this was what Haruka saw when he gave her that sidelong glance at the end of last week’s episode, or whether Aoi’s actions surprised him.
The last act of this little play is supposed to be the candidate speeches, but only Aoi has the chance to give hers before an anime coincidence happens and a blimp is about to crash into the castle (that’s original, anyway). This gives several of the siblings a chance to show off their heroism, but once again it’s Shuu who really shines during the crisis. And he manages to work a speech into the rescue mission too, which doesn’t hurt his chances (nor does the fact that he looks so much like his father).
We get a winner, but as finales go this one was still (fittingly) pretty open-ended. More of a “life goes on” vibe than anything, suitably upbeat and cheerful for Joukamchi no Dandelion. It’s been made pretty clear that Akane and Kanade wanted to be king for iffy reasons, and among the others only Teru and Misaki really even wanted to win, and it’s been obvious for a while that neither was a real factor. Everybody gets back to doing their own thing and Shuu and Hana officially become a couple – and that’s the ending it was probably safest to expect.
It’s always nice to see a series that’s grounded in cliche but still manages to offer something a little distinctive and uplifting. I suppose a sleeper by definition is, more than anything, a show that ends up being more than the sum of its parts – and I think that definitely applies to Joukamachi no Dandelion. I would certainly get rid of the idol subplot and all the unneeded wincest nonsense, and give Hayami Sho more of a chance to be hilarious as Borscht the cat. But I like that this was a show about siblings who genuinely love each other and treat each other well, and at its best it could be both touching and hilarious. It wasn’t a game-changer, but ultimately I think it was a success, and I’m glad to have spent a few hours with Castle Town Dandelion this season.