Seriously – I don’t know what’s more amazing, that being an entire episode or the fact that it was so brilliant.
I admit it, I’m in love with Dagashi Kashi. I’ve fallen hard for this series’ utter lunacy, triviality and blend of sweetness and naughtiness. And the incredibly loveable cast of characters. And too the fact that this is one of the most Japanese shows I remember – not just in its obsession with the minutiae of Japanese daily life, but in its bulldog obsession with minutiae generally (which, I find, is an important quirk of the Japanese national character).
This episode was definitely a showcase for Hotaru in all her glorious bakayarocity. Saya has tended to overshadow her at times (much to the chagrin of manga readers) but I find Hotaru to be an equally winning character for totally different reasons. In the first chapter the McGuffin is Hotaru’s mouth ulcer, which effectively allows Dagashi Kashi the opportunity to show us Hotaru mercilessly battering the sensible Saya with her relentless idiocy until poor Saya finally cracks under the pressure (as any of us would).
The dagashi introduced here are an interesting bunch (is there no end to them?). First we have “Watapachi”, which seems to be a sort of Japanese version of Pop Rocks, except they start out as a fluffy, sugary mass. Naturally this is the worst possible candy to eat when you have a canker sore – another shot across Saya’s bow – but that doesn’t stop Hotaru. Then we have “Unchoco” – literally “Poop Chocolate” – which has understandably become a sensation among elementary school boys but rather offends Saya’s delicate girlyness. Natch, Saya seems to have no idea (that’s a big recurring theme) of the implication of this candy’s name and design.
Things get even more hilarious when Kokonotsu is swapped out for Saya in Hotaru’s firing line. First, she puts on a ridiculous charade about actually being from Osaka and occasionally letting her Osaka-ben slip out (Kokonotsu correctly guesses she’s faking). All of this is (somehow) in the service of teaching Kokonotsu a lesson about how not all dagashi is just candy, sometimes it can be eaten with meals – which she chooses to illustrate with an Eastern-Japanese delicacy called Sakura Daikon (daikon with vinegar, another terrible thing to eat with a mouth sore). The rimshot here is when Hotaru “leaves”, then re-appears a moment later with a “Maido! Mokkari-makka?” greeting for Kokonotsu.
The capstone of the episode is a truly hilarious series of the double entendres Dagashi Kashi does so brilliantly, starting with Hotaru asking poor Coconuts “Do you like boobs?” Well, of course he does – but this is Hotaru we’re talking about, so Coconuts’ mature act in answering falls flat (pun intended). The snack at the center of this story is “Oppai Aisu” – boob ice-cream, though Coconuts insists that it should be called “bomb ice cream“. Truthfully, I can see why either name would fit.
I don’t think much needs to be said about what the mere existence of this snack says about the delicious weirdness of the Japanese (who pretty much only use the “oppai” label for it), but in Dagashi Kashi terms it’s one of the funniest moments of the series. “Breasts are for sucking” indeed – and I love the fact that what Coconuts remembers in this moment is eating the ice cream with Saya when he was a kid and her saying “You look just like a baby!”. What really sells this is that even as Hotaru blurts out the punchline, she has absolutely no idea why it’s the punchline – or why Coconuts looks so uncomfortable after one of the dagashi explodes all over her face and chest…