What They Say:
The snack pack is back, and this time they’re bringing the toys…toys and games, that is! Right as things are raring to go, Hotaru suddenly leaves. With the queen gone, the snack kingdom crumbles, and Shikada Dagashi goes from shop to shack. Now it’s up to Kokonotsu to bring it back to life!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English mix gets a 5.1 bump to it, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. Though there are a few bigger moments from time to time with some of the challenges and activities that the kids get into this is mostly a dialogue driven show. That has its own fun areas with some of the sound effects, such as when they’re in the box, but also just in making it feel like a more fully realized world with the background sounds and even the crinkle of certain wrappers. Dialogue itself is fairly straightforward and plays well to the forward soundstage with a clean and well placed piece that hits some good moments and delivers on what the intent of it all is. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2018, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are kept to one disc as they’re about twelve minutes each, which is half of what the previous season was. Animated by Tezuka Productions instead of studio Feel, the series has a really great look to it with a lot of detail and fluidity in the character designs in how they move about while also paying strong attention to detail in the snacks and all their packages. It’s something that it definitely needs to do and the payoff is there for fans of that element as it shows a real love of what they’re focusing on. The character animation is strong throughout with Kotoyama’s original designs making a great transition to animated here and combining that with some solid background pieces and a lived-in setting for the characters and it’s highly appealing. That comes across strongly through the encoding where colors are rich and vibrant throughout and there are no problems to be had with blocking or noise nor anything with cross coloration to be had.
The packaging for this release is a standard sized Blu-ray case with both formats for the release hald against the interior walls. The release is one that comes with an o-card to it that has the same artwork from the case itself, just with better cardstock that gives the color a bit more richness. The o-card has a good shot of Hotaru and Kokonotsu together with the right expressions and cuteness along with some welcome detail. The back cover for both is the same as it carries through the background with no additional artwork, but we do get a small strip of shots from the show along the bottom. The premise is well covered as are the extras while the technical grid breaks both formats down in a clean and accurate way. The case does have artwork on the reverse side where the right panel has a different pairing of characters while the left replicates the back cover. No additional inserts are included.
The menu design for the release is like the cover in that it’s very simple in its layout and approach, something that typically works well but feels even blander here thanks to the color palette. The main disc replicates the cover artwork without the character artwork itself. The logo takes up a good chunk of real estate along the middle which is decent but too dull in color. And those colors carry through to the navigation strip where we get a pinkish read that’s also very soft in tone and stands out all the more because of it when there’s so much and such small navigation text to be had. Everything is functional and easy to navigate both as a top level menu and a pop-up menu, but it’s such a bland experience going into it compared to what the show itself looks like that I really wish they had gone with clips or the opening sequence instead.
The extras for this release brings us a few familiar pieces that are definitely welcome, such as the clean opening and closing sequences and one of the original promos for it. We do get an audio commentary for it as well with the ninth episode getting an English dub cast gathering to talk about the show.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first season of Dagashi Kashi landed in the winter 2016 season and it generated a lot of attention at home and abroad with its love of the small tasty treats and all the things many hadn’t seen before or hadn’t seen for some time. The second season took a couple of years to arrive and it did so with some changes. The first is that studio Feel departed it and Tezuka Productions took over while keeping to largely the same look and design aesthetic. The other is that we went from the standard episode length to half that at twelve episodes. And honestly, that’s for the best as each episode feels tighter and more engaging with its audience and characters. It’s still a bit of a light series overall but it felt a bit more grounded overall and without as much fluff.
The premise for this season is a fun enough one where there are several changes put into place over the course of it that a third season could have a lot to explore. With the manga having ended I have little hope for that, however. Here, Kokonotsu’s father Yo is all set to get into clean-up mode with the shop after all the troubles recently that has left the place looking pretty run down. Of course, he screws up and injures himself so badly that he ends up in the hospital for the whole season. This puts Kokonotsu in charge of the place and that leaves him frustrated because as much as he loves dagashi he’s not wanting this life, with school, potential romance, and manga calling to him from other directions. The first few episodes plays well with the group together and some simple adventures but it also shifts gears by the fourth episode as Hotaru leaves and heads back home and doesn’t reappear until the end of the series, at least outside of dream sequences and wistful thoughts by Kokonotsu.
So, where does that place the series? It puts it in a kind of weird spot of having to try and find itself. For Kokonotsu, this really has him motivated to do things right by his dad with the place and he comes up with some expansion ideas that will make them more important in the community since there are few shops there. Unfortunately, just as this thought hits, he discovers a convenience store has suddenly opened up across the street. It’s absolutely delightful in seeing the gang going through the place and discovering just how excellent it is with all of its offerings as there’s a sense of wonder that’s infectious in its grins. Amusingly, this all has Kokonotsu realizing that the shop is even more trouble but he still can’t help but to offer suggestions to the owner that will benefit the locals, particularly in terms of pricing.
This season does offer some fun with Saya as there are moments where it feels like she and Kokonotsu are getting closer together, particularly with Hotaru gone, but the season also feels like it slows down a welcome notch because of the lack of Hotaru. The real fun comes in the form of Hajime, a young woman who was working at the convenience store but ended up being fired because she has some quirks to her. She’s desperate for a job to pay her rent and tries her luck with Kokonotsu. That it ends up with her being live-in help – rent free – just adds to the silliness of it all. But the two end up becoming such weirdly good friends that it’s a real delight, from the web design to the encouragement she gives him regarding his dreams to make manga. The manga subplot is one that’s frustrating because it doesn’t really get used until near the end and it offers some real criticism given to him by an editor that I wanted to see some serious follow-up on. But the distractions of everything else overshadows that, which isn’t a surprise. It’s the only real frustration I had with the season because it felt like it had a chance to really step up.
Dagashi Kashi was a show in its first season that I enjoyed but just felt like a little bit too much material. Here, the season feels like it’s moving through story points well with good character growth and exploration. And it did it in half the episodes in terms of time as they’re only twelve minutes long. It felt tighter, sharper, and a lot more enjoyable from start to finish. It looks good, has some fun dub performances, and a couple of welcome extras. It’s definitely a fun release that gave me a lot more than I expected and left me feeling pretty happy with it.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 9 Commentary, Promo Video, Textless Opening & Closing Songs, and Trailers.
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: October 30th, 2018
Running Time: 144 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.