Dagashi Kashi seems to be a test of just how inconsequential a theme an anime can have and still be entertaining…
This is a good season so far – very good, for a winter season. But after two great shows (great enough to make it a good season even if they were the only two shows airing) and one excellent one (Dimension W) there’s a pretty big dropoff to the next tier, and in that tier is a daunting bucket of shows that are somewhere on the bubble spectrum. But among that group, Dagashi Kashi is close to the top for me – I’m this close to making the commitment and giving it a category entry.
By no means is this series perfect, and I could see where it’s not going to appeal to everybody. But on some level I think it exemplifies why anime is such fun, and why Japan may be the quirkiest country on Earth. Seriously, it seems there’s no subject too trivial for somebody to obsess about – and for someone to agree to make an anime about that obsession. And make that subject genuinely interesting, too – if you’re interested in the fascinating minutiae of seikatsu. In case you haven’t noticed, I am.
What I’ve figured out about Hotaru is that she’s basically a dagashi chuunibyou. And like any good chuunibyou, her knowledge about her obsession is encyclopedic. To the extent that such a character can be an entertaining focus for a series, I think she is – I find her funny (when she says stuff like “The aircon was busy”, or hears “I can’t decide” as “Candy-side” I can’t help but laugh). But the good thing is that the other characters aren’t bland or inconsequential – they’ve all got quirks and peculiarities of their own. and they’re likeable, too.
I also think Dagashi Kashi is helped by having Tou involved, because he provides another source of bakayaroucity and gives Hotaru a dance partner. Basically Kokonotsu and Saya are sensible and Hotaru and Tou (well, and You) are nuts – and I like that dynamic. The tone here is spot-on – it embraces the silliness of the premise but retains a sweetness and gentleness that’s very endearing. Even the fanservice is the kind of middle-school farcical variety that’s pretty harmless.
There’s a theme emerging with the better shows this season (and even as I’m writing about this one I’m realizing how much I really do like it), and that’s that they could be airing any time over the last 20 years and they wouldn’t feel anachronistic. Dagashi Kashi is very much timeless and that’s part of its appeal. Also part of its appeal is that I learn something new every week about Japanese sweets – “Bontan-ame” with edible rice paper – who knew? This is the sort of stuff someone who didn’t grow up in Japan would never learn unless a silly show like this one taught them, and I love it for that.