First Impressons – Dagashi Kashi

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The candy shop metaphor works pretty well with this one.

Dagashi Kashi was a show I had sleeper vibes with from the moment I first saw the announcement, and it’s for a very specific niche of anime – and one that’s consistently produced sleeper series over the years.  Every season is better off with a comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, isn’t afraid to unleash the old-school screwball humor, and has a genuine core of sweetness to it.  I think of stuff like Majimoji Rurumo, Joukamachi no Dandelion and Jitsu w Watashi wa when I think of shows like that – and I thought of Dagashi Kashi too, even before I knew the material.

So what’s the verdict?  Well, it’s just one episode, but I’d have to say we’re right on-track so far.  I wouldn’t say the premiere was lights out, but then neither were Majimoji or Dandelion’s (Jitsu wa was pretty successful right out of the gate) and it was genuinely funny and charming.  And it certainly meets the “doesn’t take itself seriously” requirement comfortably – this show starts out very silly (right down to the character designs) and makes no effort whatsoever to walk that back.

The story centers around Shikada Kokonotsu (Atsushi Abe) – “Coconuts” to his friends – the scion of a candy store somewhere in rural, coastal Japan.  Kokonotsu wants to be a mangaka, but his father You (Fujiwara Keiji, who could play this role in his sleep but happily doesn’t) is determined that he take over the family business.  Coconuts has no interest in this but alas for him, he’s a kind of candy savant – he instinctively knows how to market the product, and even how to combine flavors.  His best friend is a sunglasses-wearing dork named Tou (Suzuki Tatsuhisa) , whose younger sister Saya (Numakura Manami) makes the coffee at the family kissaten and pines for the too-dense-to-notice Coconuts.

That’s a pretty standard arrangement for this sort of series, though it’s executed with a fair bit of comic flair and charm.  The wild card here is Shidare Hotaru (Taketatsu Ayana) whose story makes so little sense that I’m not even going to try to worry about it.  She blows into town in goth loli cosplay and stands out like a sore thumb, gorging on any morsel of food she can find, fawning over You-san (who appears to be some kind of candy legend) and pronouncing that she intends to recruit him to work for her father’s candy company and to test Kokonotsu’s worthiness.  None of it really computes, but clearly Hotaru is here to act in a bizarre fashion, annoy Coconuts and make Saya jealous – all of which she accomplishes with aplomb.

There’s a lot of tropism going on here – stuff like the accidental pervert shower bit with Tou and Hotaru and Saya’s tsundere osananajimi routine – to the point where I think there’s some obvious winking at the audience going on.  And the visuals are so odd they’re kind of mesmerizing – Hotaru’s spiral king eyes especially.  I did laugh several times, and I liked the fact that despite the cliche moments the humor mostly avoided meanness (though Tou might differ).  Dagashi Kashi seems as if it could be a pretty enjoyable escapist comedy, a fun place to chill for 22 minutes – and that’s something anime is always better off having a few of.

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