Kakushigoto does a fantastic job at walking a daunting tightrope between a hilarious situational comedy and a somber family drama. It manages to strike such a nice balance by making Kakushi’s efforts to protect his secret occupation as an ecchi mangaka from his young daughter Hime both humorous in his crafty, desperate attempts and bittersweet in his inability to feel like he can communicate properly with Hime about who her father is.
Creator Kumeta Koji puts his experience in writing bawdy and irreverent comedy to good use by placing Kakushi in crazy scenarios where he has to constantly think on his feet so that Hime doesn’t discover his occupation. With the help or lack thereof from his assistants and co-workers, he often comes to them to help him maintain the illusion whenever he’s stuck in a bind. While the observational comedy of Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei had characters come to terms with the discomfort that comes from our interactions with culture and society, Kakushigoto weaponizes these interactions by making each interaction Kakushi has with anyone or anything a test to get him off of his game. Because of this, there are a number of hilarious moments where Kakushi is at odds with his friends and colleagues, the spaces he occupies, and the strangers he comes in contact with. And as the risks heighten from episode-to-episode, it becomes all the more comical to see Kakushi try to stretch himself thin to save face for himself and his daughter.
It’s all very funny on the surface, but there is a bitter irony to Kakushi’s struggle to keep his secret that is addressed blatantly and thoroughly in the series. By the end of each episode, the focus is centered around an older Hime who finds herself wondering what kind of man her father was to have hidden his career as a mangaka from her. His assistants and those acquainted with him find his struggle to be sad considering how much he loves his daughter despite his inability to be completely honest with her. In addition, the funny scenes we get in Kakushigoto are all of the moments that Kakushi considered to be his happiest days as his post-coma amnesia had kept him frozen in the moments when Hime was around 10 years old. It makes it all the more heartbreaking when all of his efforts to hide his career from Hime left him vulnerable to getting exposed for sinking most of his finances into trying to find his missing wife, resulting in his early retirement.
To add to this, the last episode was a far more emotional affair as it dealt with the aftermath of Kakushi’s year-long coma that ended up giving Hime a clearer idea of who her father was and what her family is like. After he wakes up, there are a series of difficult scenes to watch when Kakushi reverts back to his younger state-of-mind where the older Hime doesn’t exist yet. As he starts to talk about a smaller Hime in passing or confuse the actual Hime for a new assistant, it’s hard to see Hime hold back the tears of seeing her father in such a vulnerable state, especially after just learning that he had carried so many burdens in his life on his own. It’s impressive how poignant the anime gets by the end as Hime takes it into her own hands to take over for him and gather all of the material he hid from her so that she can show him how amazing his work had become and what he brought to the world. It’s hard not to get emotional when Kakushi’s insistence on wanting to see his daughter grow up influenced her to finally let him know that he not only shouldn’t be ashamed of the work he does but also be happy to see that he was successful in seeing his daughter grow up to be 18 by the time he recovered his memories.
To say Kakushigoto is a worthwhile experience is an understatement. It’s an anime that is wildly hilarious with it’s off-the-wall yet down-to-earth sense of humor that Kumeta has honed over the years. At the same time, it marks newer territory for the creator/writer as it deals with subject matter that is mature in the sense of having to write from the perspective of a father fearful of having his daughter see him at his most vulnerable and a daughter who is trying to piece together the full picture of what her father means to her. I can say with confidence that Kakushigoto joins Nami yo Kiite Kure and the second season of Kaguya-sama as some of my favorite anime to have hit Spring 2020.