Dagashi Kashi Review

This is review number three hundred and sixty. This anime is part of the Winter 2016 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called Dagashi Kashi. It means “cheap sweets candy” but it’s also a play on words that also means “however”. Seriously, run the word on google translate and it’ll give the play on words instead. Anyways, this is a twelve episode anime about candy otaku and the dangers of sweets. No, it’s something much more surprising, actually. Let’s read on.

Story

Kokonotsu’s father owns a candy shop in a small rural town. One day, a girl named Hotaru appears wanting Kokonotsu’s father to work with her family’s company. He refused because no one will look after his shop, and his son isn’t interested in owning it. Hotaru then decides that the only way to get what she wants is to she teaches Kokonotsu the wonderful side of candies. The anime now focuses on Hotaru and her love of candy as she discusses them with Kokonotsu.

Taking the Pants Off

It’s an anime about candy. Seriously, the characters just talk about candy throughout the shows entire twelve episodes. There is no story. It’s just characters talking about candy and the audience getting treated to some more Japanese things to fall in love with. For a story slut like me, who loves their sandwich with a thick slice of exposition, this anime is just perplexing. It has a premise that I actually like but the entire show dedicates everything to “dagashi”. I recently learned that it means “candy” but I had to google the term because the show also featured random sh*t like wafers and powdered drinks. I found this neat article that explains the general idea of dagashi. According to web-japan.org, “the word dagashi originally referred to cheap candies of low quality, but over time the word came to be used for candies children can easily afford with their small allowances.” It’s a very colorful article, and it basically sums up the motivation of the anime at the last paragraph. It reads “Over the last few decades, though, traditional dagashi stores have gradually disappeared from the towns. As Japan’s economy developed and children came to have more money in their pockets, they began buying more expensive snacks at supermarkets and convenience stores instead of dagashi.” It continues, “Nowadays dagashi are more often found in convenience stores and 100-yen shops.” This is really the beauty of the anime. Dagashi is now becoming a bleak part of Japanese culture, and I think the show is trying to drum up interest in kids today particularly the millennials. They’re the generation that has more money, and I’m pretty sure they don’t know what a traditional dagashi store is. I love story in my anime, but I also can’t deny a show that is intimately presenting its love of Japanese culture. It’s not doing it in a pretentious way as well, like that gawd damn Thermae Romae, or is it completely a “Japanese will only understand the references” exclusive type like Nyaruko-san or Joshiraku. It welcomes its audience both local and non-local as we all gather around for thirty minutes of our day learning about gawd damn Japanese candies.

This anime is about a girl named Hotaru trying to recruit this candy shop owner to be part of their candy company. He refuses because his little candy shop will be left to his son, named Kokonotsu, and the dude doesn’t want it. Hotaru decides that the only way to get what she wants is if she teaches Kokonotsu the beauty of dagashi. Once he willingly accepts the store then his father will finally join Hotaru and her company. There are many ways to get someone to fall in love with dagashi, but only an eccentric girl will do it the insane way by acting like a child and trying to tap into Kokonotsu’s inner childhood. He grew up with candy, so surely he loves candy deep inside just as much as Hotaru.

It’s a really solid premise. When I first saw the anime, it’s solid enough to speculate where the show is heading into. Hotaru is trying to coerce a guy to run his father’s shop. With her big boobs and childish attitude, I really overshot my expectations here. The show has no story. I just wanted to point this out again, because the story slut that actually created this website is crying. In its place are different skits where the characters just talk about candy. There are five characters in the series, and they basically just pick a candy to talk about in an episode. I said to myself foolishly, “clearly they’ll run out of candies to talk about by the second half, right?” After all, why spend so much time talking about candy? Well, it turns out that there is a lot of dagashi stuff to talk about. In fact, there’s too damn many.

Too.

Damn.

Many.

The scary part is that the show hasn’t covered even half of the dagashi out there. If the manga is still on going, then I think it’s really trying to talk about as much candy as a serialized manga publication can take. It makes you wonder though, why put so much effort on candy? Despite the show being nothing but candy, it does hit a soft spot for some reason. In this day and age, the old accustomed traditions are dying. In this world where convenience and luxury is becoming a norm, the good old days of growing up living a simple life is becoming extinct. I kinda understand the author trying to introduce the younger generation to something he thoroughly enjoyed growing up with. The idea that kids aren’t growing up with it prompts him to put his love of the old in a manga and get his message across. The skits really talk about candy in the most intimate way, and the feeling of growing up experiencing these candies really permeates. The show is doing its best to entice the audience in trying to experience these candies as well. It’s also trying to give off a nostalgic feeling with the candies because it wants the people that grew up with dagashi to experience them again. It’s a pretty noble effort, and I love how the skits aren’t preachy in any way. It’s not trying to say that the Japanese culture is superior, and it’s not trying to condemn kids today for not growing up with dagashi. A lot of anime that features Japanese culture are often too proud of its roots that it’s a bit unpleasing to watch, and sometimes they’re unintentionally exclusive featuring gags and stuff that only Japanese people can understand. This anime is different. It understands that dagashi is kinda universal wherein people all over the world grew up with the same kind of culture. This anime is trying to cater to them as well, and it’s trying to send a really wonderful message about appreciating the things you grew up with.

An anime about too much candy seems a bit tricky to pull off though, right? How exactly can you get away with twelve episodes of nothing but candy? The anime has three approaches to the skits. The skits are all the same though, wherein the characters are talking about a certain candy as the theme of the skits. They only differ slightly with these approaches. First of all, this is a club themed anime. This type of anime involves characters in their club room just doing random stuff poking fun of each other. It’s a dialogue heavy show with some situational comedy to kick things off. The skit ends with a certain punch line, and the characters often carry the show entirely on their own. Dagashi Kashi is technically a club themed anime. The candy shop Kokonotsu is working in serves as their club room, and the dialogue heavy scenes revolve around candy. This means that the characters are the centerpiece of the show, and this is where things get interesting. The characters are all childish.

They seem to be acting like a child for comedic purposes, but I think they’re doing it because the candies they talk about are often enjoyed by kids as well. There is no conflict in this anime. The show just focuses on the characters doing silly things in each skit, and they would incorporate the candies in these scenes. For example, one of the needlessly stupid scenes in the anime involves Hotaru and Kokonotsu running while also eating this caramel candy called Glico. The candy’s slogan is that one caramel candy gives you energy to run 300 meters, and so the entire skit involves them calculating their run while eating Glico. It’s entirely stupid, but the characters portray the scene like two kids playing with their candy and that’s exactly what makes the skit work. It’s nothing special, but the characters find ways to make the whole thing fun. It didn’t just introduce you to the Glico candy, but it also gives you a cute scene where two people are enjoying eating the candy. Making the characters act childish is a great way to make the candy centered anime interesting. By making them enjoy the candy in its basic form, the audience is now enticed to try them but it also makes sure that the nostalgic effect of the dagashi is nicely presented as well. The anime can still get boring from time to time, but it doesn’t really put you off entirely. If the childish characters don’t work for you, then the show has another approach up its sleeves.

Ecchi. Yeah, fan service in the form of Hotaru: the big busty girl that introduces the candies to us. It’s not overly dirty, but some skits are pretty suggestive. Again, the characters act childish so the ecchi is delivered in a pretty immature way. These scenes often just involve Hotaru getting wet and her bra imprinting on her shirt, Kokonotsu staring at Hotaru’s large racks or the suggestive way that Hotaru consumes the candies. These really just serve as a cute palette cleanser for the anime since it doesn’t happen that often. When the show spends too much time talking about candy, a few skits focused on comedy or ecchi is inserted in. They’re pretty tame so it really only serves to get the audience to refocus on the facts about the candy. It also breaks the monotonous pace of the anime from time to time. Images, I believe screenshots can nicely deliver this aspect of the anime.

Lastly, the skits also serve as an infomercial for the candies. When you think about it, it is pretty impressive for various candy companies to agree to let the anime showcase their products. This might include some deal where the anime acts as commercial for the candies. This is the last approach of the anime. It talks about the good qualities of the candies in a scripted commercial way, and it actually looks like a cute novelty for the anime. I’m not sure if its intentional but seeing them advertise the product is entertaining in its own weird way. It’s funny because the characters don’t really need to describe the candies they’re eating, but they seem to just do it for advertisement sake. Some of the infomercial-like skits do make me wish I have access to these candies, so I think the little ploy works. If it’s not an infomercial then it’d be a little history lesson about a certain dagashi. Some of these candies have an interesting history to them, and the anime loves to talk about them with bright eyed enthusiasm. They feature the history in a really unique way focusing on the product’s enduring presence, and to how it became such a product. There’s one about milk candies not selling well because Japanese people actually hate diary back in the day, and I believe they reject this because this is something introduced to them by the foreigners that docked in their harbors and are now influencing their culture. Anyways, the characters would talk about how the Japanese grew to eating the milk candies, and they delivered the history lesson in a really simple but curious way.

It’s not just candies though. The dagashi stuff also covers the toys that Japanese children can buy with their allowance, and the anime covers this as well. I think this is where the childish personality of the characters really works, because the toys are really meant for kids. With the wide eyed wonder of being a child, the characters would play the game and they actually have fun in the process. Some of the toys are pretty fascinating as well, because I can honestly relate to some of them. This is where the sentiment of the anime really carries through. When you compare the kids of the past to the kids of today, there is a big difference on what they truly enjoy. The idea of playing with cards outside with your friends is somehow replaced with skype. Seriously, some of my students not only have apps in their tablets but also f*cking skype. Some of them would even come to me asking for relationship advice, and I’m like “dude, you’re eight. You’re supposed to be flicking your snot at girls. What the hell is wrong with you?” I think this is why the characters try to act childish, because that particular kind of behavior is also rare now. You don’t see kids genuinely having fun at something simple nowadays, and I bet the audience would be filled with curiosity wondering why the characters would have so much fun over these cheap games. As much as I really hate this anime for lacking a plot, I also believe that it’s doing wonders trying to bridge the gap between the old and the new. One of my favorite episodes involving games would have to be the shrine festival episode. This anime explained all the possible games you can play at a festival, and I actually find it fascinating because this is the first time I learned how to play that damn goldfish game. It looks so inviting that I actually want to play it as well.

Now let’s talk about the negative aspects of this anime. Well, for one, it’s stupidly simple. You can’t marathon this anime, because it can get boring easily. At best, this is just a light hearted show you can watch once a week or in between the shows you are faithfully watching. In terms of an anime experience, there’s not much here. It’s focused too much on the candies that it fails to leave an impression on the audience. The dagashi culture leaves a mark, but the show itself is forgettable. Hotaru can also be a bit too much. She comes off as an eccentric person, but I honestly don’t like her character. She’s like a candy otaku, and I’m using the negative term of otaku wherein she’s too obsessed that it becomes a bit creepy. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that it’s cute but it really grows old fast. Her novelty of a character can be annoying sometimes, and it can be a big distraction for the show. Instead of just talking about candies, she’ll find a way to make an exaggerated scene out of everything. It actually comes to a point where her love for candies can be a turn off. With the lack of exposition and a chance to flesh her out, the show entirely depends on how long you can stand to see her act like a weirdo. I think that’s why the ecchi is needed as well, so people aren’t turned off by her. Still, she can be a bit grating sometimes.

The characters are all pretty decent. Aside from being a club themed anime, it’s also a bit Slice of Life wherein the calm setting and laidback pace helps in making the characters look good. They act childish because they’re in a small rural town with nothing much to do. You understand why it’s OK for them to play along with Hotaru’s eccentric whims. Kokonotsu is a bland character, but I think it works well considering the spotlight is on the candies. I like his relationship with Saya though. The show often has flashbacks where Kokonotsu and Saya are kids, and they’re often about two actual kids having fun together. It’s all innocent fluff but it’s put through some adult lenses. There’s a skit where they played doctor and Saya wanted Kokonotsu to touch her breast. Of course, the boy didn’t understand what she meant because he just want to give her pretend medicine. It’s absolutely cute, and I love how the anime explore their relationship without forgetting to feature the candies. They’re childhood friends, and you just can’t help but smile whenever they’re together. I think this is one of the consistent character focus on the show, because their past is really explored with nostalgic sense throughout the show. All the characters are just straight man to Hotaru though. The girl is insane, and the rest of the cast just indulge in her insanity. She’s an adorable character, and she would passionately discuss candies at every opportunity. She’s definitely the centerpiece of the anime, and almost every skit involves her acting eccentric. The remaining two characters are Kokonotsu’s father and best friend. They’re supporting characters at best, but they grow on you as well. Kokonotsu’s father is supportive but also childish while Kokonotsu’s best friend is weird in his own way. Some of the skits where they are featured are pretty funny as well, but they’re really only interesting when they’re with Kokonotsu exchanging candy facts with Hotaru.

daga13

 

This anime is presented by Studio Feel, and I love how they’re trying to be different here. They often give us interesting concepts, but they often fall flat because they don’t have that big of an influence on the anime landscape. I think they got heads turning with My Romantic Comedy SNAFU, but I’m really a big supporter ever since they gave us Yosuga no Sora. An anime about candy sounds different enough for them, and I like that they’re taking risks once again. This is certainly one of the most talked about anime for the Winter 2016 season, so I think they should just keep the momentum going. If a studio with only thirty employees can give us a solid hitter of the season, then surely their efforts aren’t being wasted. Keep it up Feel, and maybe someday you can bring back Yosuga no Sora but without the freaky incest. This anime is directed by Shigehito Takayanagi, and he’s a pretty solid director. I like how he paces his anime, and I think it’s a big reason why this particular story-less show is so interesting. He also directed the Galaxy Angel series, and it also doesn’t have a central plot. Focusing on the characters and the skits is able to push the franchise to four seasons, and I think Shigehito’s talent is to thank for that. He also applied that skillful pacing in this anime, and I sincerely hope he direct some more anime. He clearly has talent to turn even the most one dimensional stories into the most interesting thing you can watch. I do understand the novelty of the manga, but I think the director did a lot to make the adaptation a bit more interesting.

Sight and Sound

The manga is absolutely amazing. The character design is pretty great, and the author really knows how to make each panel interesting. I love how he puts Hotaru as the centerpiece of each panel nicely proving how much of a scene stealer she is. The design itself is pretty incredible with the details consistently uniform in each panel, and the face are expressive as if given extra care to make the manga come alive. For the manga, it’s really all about the details and Kotoyama knows how to show off his characters. He loves doing full body shots of his characters so you can enjoy how detailed they are. Hotaru’s proportions are amazing to look at and the outfit is pretty intricately made. From the hair strand to the small designs on her head to the frill of her dress, the details really make the character interesting. Saya’s design is pretty great as well, because she doesn’t have as much details as Hotaru but her proportions are still pretty bad ass. Her frail body with the inking looks great even if her hair and face sorta combines awkwardly. You won’t notice it, because each panel is just filled with care that you’re really just caught up reading them. I especially love how he captures the laidback appeal of the town the characters are in, and it gives off a vibrant effect on the characters as well. Kotoyama is a beast of a mangaka, and it’s amazing how he puts so much emphasis on a manga about candy. Perhaps the most incredible part about all of this is that Studio Feel absolutely captured everything about the manga. From Kotoyama’s preferred color palette to the details on the characters to how Kotoyama presents Hotaru boldly in each panel, the anime adaptation got it all on point. The details on Hotaru’s hair to the frills on her dress, the anime absolutely captured Kotoyama’s vision. Granted, there aren’t a lot to really capture but I love how much care Studio Feel really gave in this adaptation. This is the best part about Studio Feel, because you know they’re putting all their effort to make their shows great.

Animation is pretty great as well. It’s consistent, and that’s pretty cool considering how careful they are of the details in each character. They really wanted Kotoyama’s vision of the characters intact so every hair detail, facial expression and camera angle is faithful to the manga. In a sense, the manga really comes alive in the anime and very little is changed. The animation is so smooth that Hotaru’s eccentric personality is pretty on point to how Kotoyama wanted her to be. From her wordy explanations to the over exaggerated reactions she does, the animation really gives her justice. I also love how the anime captures the way she open the sliding doors of the candy shop. She would stand there looking all intimidating at first, but then she goes eccentric the next scene. The transition is pretty smooth, and it really makes the anime experience that much more enjoyable. There’s not much to animate in this anime, so I do understand that it’s easy to focus on every single detail. I love that Studio Feel went the extra mile, and they even nicely depicted the facial expressions of the characters. My favorite expressions all belong to Saya, because she’s often cool but also shy at the same time. She would fidget nervously but she also keeps herself in check, and the animation really did a wonderful job portraying her. As I said before, the whole show is consistent and that is a big plus considering there is no story to work with.

The anime’s OP is “Checkmate!?” by MICHI. This is a pretty cool song. It’s a cool pop jazz song, and it has a really unique sound to it. You don’t hear it much being used as OP songs. It’s basically about living your life, taking risks and just having fun. It’s a weird message to give, since the anime is about candy but I guess it does work with the trippy OP sequence. It features Hotaru and candy in a really indescribable montage. It just looks funky and trippy, but the animation is pretty incredible. It does summarize the brief premise of Kokonotsu wanting to draw manga instead of running the shop while Hotaru is there to bring her eccentric personality to him. It’s cute in a weird way, and it certainly ranks up there with some of my favorite Ops just because of how unusual it is. The anime’s ED is “Hey! Calorie Queen” by Ayana Taketatsu. This is actually the ideal OP I was expecting for the show. It’s a bubblegum pop song sung by one of the characters. This is done by Hotaru, and it’s a saccharine song. It’s suggestively cute as well, and it’s a really vibrant song. The ED sequence features the characters in an Alice in Wonderland theme, but they’re surrounded with candy. Saya as Alice is a nice fan service, and the animation where they’re dancing is pretty cute as well. Hotaru as the Cheshire cat ears some points as well.

Overall Score

7/10 “It’s an anime about candy, and it’s pretty damn entertaining.”

It doesn’t have a strong story but the characters really made the show interesting. The way it talks about candy is interesting as well, and the various skits are entertaining despite lacking a long lasting impact on the audience. It’s a pretty solid show with minor negatives. If you like club themed anime, then you’ll love how this show spins it and solely focuses on candy. If you’re a japanophile and you want an anime that proudly displays the culture, then this one about the dagashi culture will interest you. If you’re one of those people clamoring for the good old days when you were young, then maybe there are some nostalgic elements that you’ll find enjoyable in this show. It’s an entertaining show despite being simple, but I think the anime experience is something pretty worthwhile. I recommend it.

6 thoughts on “Dagashi Kashi Review

    • I am actually still improving my style, and the only useful tip I can give you is : just keep posting reviews. Keep writing until you understand what you want to write about. It took me 300 hundred reviews to be considered “good” personally. So chin up and just keep doing reviews and learn from it. 🙂

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