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Dagashi Kashi Episode #12 Anime Review (Season Finale)

7 min read
Dagashi Kashi Episode 12 (Final Episode)
Dagashi Kashi Episode 12 (Final Episode)

A season of candy lectures and romantic sidestepping comes to an end. Will you be left with a sweet or sour taste in your mouth at the finish? Perhaps both?

What They Say:
Episode 12: “I’m Gonna Eat It-Hi, Poem of Cherries, and…/Morinaga Milk Caramel, Sakuma Drops, and…”

While Hotaru and Saya discuss matters of love, Kokonotsu and To seek once again to improve their fortunes through dagashi. Another day, Kokonotsu tries to use his knowledge of dagashi to impress an expectant Hotaru.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As an episode, the final installment for this season serves as a microcosm of the series as a whole: there are funny moments, there are boring moments, there are times when the absurdity of it all makes you laugh and times when a more heartwarming edge make you smile. It’s all very uneven, even at the same exact time. That’s how I largely felt during the first half, which is divided between two pairs looking at the nature of interpersonal relations, but in very different ways. On the one hand, To and Kokonotsu are gathered near the riverbed, locked in heated discussion over a high school boy’s desire to be popular among girls. Kokonotsu openly expresses this fairly common wish, and seeks to increase his chances through the prophetic powers of…I’m Gonna Eat It-Hi candy. I’ve never found the pairing of To and Kokonotsu and the things they discuss together all that interesting because they are so common and cliche. I’m not expecting innovation here, but seeing them together often feels like a waste of time.

Dagashi-sama ga Miteru……maybe
Dagashi-sama ga Miteru……maybe

It’s not that Saya and Hotaru’s interaction is any less cliche in its own right. Hotaru seems to be in a more melancholic (not depressed, but certainly more wistful) mood and talking of love. Saya, simple, wonderfully simple, country girl that she is, gets the wrong impression and seems to think Hotaru might be thinking of the love between girls that sometimes happens (more often than usual in the imaginations of otaku fiction writers). Hotaru asks “what is the taste of love?” Before Saya can explode in embarrassment from her misguided musings, however, Hotaru, as we should expecte by now, draws out a candy with a cherry flavor that claims to be the flavor of love, with included poem about it on the packaging. The whole scene, especially Saya’s energetic imagination, is not roll on the floor funny, but it’s certainly worth a laugh.

An interesting development the last couple of episodes, and continued here, is the rather more straightforward romantic development that seems to be emerging involving Kokonotsu and Hotaru. It’s hard to interpret otherwise some of the imagery we’ve been seeing, all of which come out of stock scenes of romance works. Last episode’s train departure scene is one of those classics, which is shown here again not once, but twice, in flashback (the cynical out there are probably mumbling to themselves about budgets and reusing animation…and sure, there is that too). This episode gives us another staple situation, as Kokonotsu and Hotaru sit in a bus stop shelter while it’s raining. Sure, the time is spent just as much talking about dagashi as anything else, but Kokonotsu also brings up the reason he went out into the rain looking for Hotaru in the first place. He’s worried that he’s dominating Hotaru’s time, restricting her freedom since she comes to Shikada Dagashi every day.

It’s hard to say, really, what is going on in Hotaru’s head. Kokonotsu is all too easy to read and the camera shots from his perspective are far too one-dimensional in focusing on Hotaru’s main two-dimensional charms (this is animation, remember), That makes it hard to create a three dimensional character (which is pretty rare anyway in fiction). Part of what makes Hotaru work as a character is her mysteriousness combined with obviousness (her obsession with snacks). As the cliches pile on (the rain clears up to reveal the sun), what do we make of Hotaru and Kokonotsu and the author’s intentions with them? I don’t know.

Interesting side note: there were no dagashi kashi/daga shikashi bumpers at all in this episode.

DagashiKashi12ED1

Season Retrospective:
So, what do I make of it in the end? It’s been clear all along that the humor was best when it was absurd, whether it be Hotaru’s sheltered princess misunderstandings of common things to Saya’s really vivid imagination that more often than not is completely off-base to the wacky ways in which Hotaru and Kokonotsu bring across large units of dagashi exposition. At its best (the running segment a la Glico; Hotaru’s appearing in unusual locations to dispense snack lore; Saya’s fevered fantasies), the show was able to draw out some genuine laughs. At its most mediocre, it got boring, especially in some of the stock “humor” of To’s pervertedness combined with Kokonotsu’s similar mindset. It’s not out of place, they are teenaged boys after all, but it just sat there, eating up running time and presumably pages in the original manga.

The character interactions, which were far more important than the plot (the plot provided an excuse to bring someone like Hotaru together with Kokonotsu, as otherwise these are two people who might never have crossed paths in their entire lives, even if they are, broadly speaking, in the same line of work), varied in their ability to lead to interesting encounters. Oddly, my favorite pair to see on screen were Saya and Hotaru, since we could be sure that Hotaru would lead Saya to think something very different from what she actually had in mind and yet Saya was still the “sane” one as Hotaru herself often has a one-track…one very strange track at that…mind. All dagashi, all the time. At least the number of Endo siblings ecchi followed by violence skits disappeared after their appearance early in the show, as that kind of stock humor was old already two decades ago. They’re not forgotten as Saya casts her glare at her brother even in the final episode at one point, but fortunately no longer a major part of the action.

Hotaru Shidare
Hotaru Shidare

I’m not sure how to take the potentially budding romance between Hotaru and Kokonotsu. It’s not that I’m rooting for someone else (though I know there are many Saya fans out there), it’s that I’m really not sure about the author’s intentions. It might be that in slowly giving us more of Hotaru’s personality, her earliest appearances, which were all insanity and craziness over candy, may have made it slightly hard to see this quieter, more reflective Hotaru that has emerged later in the series…even though I have to admit I like this Hotaru much more than the Crazy Candy Lady. Perhaps the original author realized the limitations of that early impression of Hotaru and started to move in a slightly different direction, which the adaptation here has tried its best to capture (I have not read the manga, so I do not know any of this for fact, it’s pure supposition on my part). It has been handled well enough, it does not feel jarring. But there is this slight feeling of…unease? unreality? that seems to come forth when I think about it. As a setup for an eventual love triangle, I guess it will serve to lay the basis for an “event” in the future of the story. For now, it’s just hard to judge what Hotaru really thinks, mostly because it’s very hard to judge the seriousness of anything that comes out of her mouth other than factual information about snacks.

I enjoyed Dagashi Kashi overall, but it’s not quite a top-tier comedy. It had moments but it lacked a certain amount of consistency while at the same time invoking cliches a bit too sincerely (I much prefer it when cliches are parodied or employed with some level of insincerity involved; here too often, they were used straight). I did not mind the candy lessons, some of which were quite amusing and educational (in a very limited way, of course). But it just needs something a little more and I almost feel that the author knows this, thus the late move towards some romantic elements. It is a show worth a watch, but I’m not sure about its future rewatch value.

Episode Grade: B+
Season Grade: B+

Streamed By: FUNimation

Review Equipment:
Apple iMac with 12GB RAM, Mac OS 10.10 Yosemite