「よきかな」 (Yoki ka na)
“Is It Good”
Full-length images: 36.
「春暁に鯛」 (Shungyō ni Tai)
“Red Sea Bream for a Spring Dawn”
For personal reasons, I’ve decided to complete the review of this series in a single double post. And boy do I have some things to say about this show. Going into this experience I wanted Deaimon to be the next wholesome hidden gem. While in some aspects it did achieve that, creating a sense of familiarity with the people inside the shop and regular customers as well, Deaimon accomplished hooking me into the daily lives of these characters. However, that’s pretty much all it did for me. Maybe it’s because Nagomu is still a tad bit younger than most protagonists who are forced into a found family situation. For example: In Barakamon, Amaama to Inazuma, and Usagi Drop, those parents feel older and more mature, some of them around their late 30s, even if it’s not entirely the case.
Emotionally they are more prepared to receive such family burdens. Maybe the real reason why those series work so well in comparison to Deaimon is that they don’t feature a whole cast of characters, and instead only focus on the traditional two-bedroom family structure. Giving more leeway and screen time to get to know this character in depth. Meanwhile, Deaimon decided to span out its cast of characters leaving little time for Nagomu and Itsuka to form a deep parental connection.
In another post, I talked about how Itsuka was idolizing her real dad and pushing her abandonment issues on her mom because she knew her dad was still somewhere in Japan, and her mom all but ditched her for France. So in the present situation, for her it’s much easier to just drop all that emotional baggage on her mom, it’s a lot easier for her to blame her mom for her abandonment. Rather than her dad. When the real situation is that both her parental units blamed each other and were unable to properly care for Itsuka. In my opinion, her memories and traumas are being muddied. And this is the only way I can truly justify her tsundere-ness.
You know where this is going – I’m not a fan of her attitude towards Nagomu, always putting him down and making him feel less than, even though his intentions are always pure. He might be a scattered brain – but that doesn’t mean he ever groomed Itsuka in any which way that could be considered damaging. He’s a hard worker around the shop and knows his place, he understood that things were not going to be easy, and he needed to gain approval from his dad before Heigo could impart sweet-making recipes to his son. He needed to prove his worth one way or another, and he certainly did. Heigo never really showed any emotion, but the fact he’s taken Nagomu under his wing proves a lot. And mends their relationship over.
On the other hand, Nagomu is also eager to learn about sweet making and wants to preserve the traditions and important rituals that go with it. He understands the cultural significance, and as the show blatantly explains time and time again, the craftsmanship that goes into making sweets. Especially the inspiration behind them, whether the seasons or a special occasion.
But Itsuka for some reason that is beyond me, still gives him the death stare and puts him down for even saying the wrong thing. It’s only in those moments that Nagomu goes above and beyond that Itsuka stares at him with stars in her eyes. She holds him up to a standard, that Nagomu will never be able to reach. Because he’s a goofy through and through, he likes to move with the wind and beat at the pace of his own drum. He goes against society and traditional Japanese values, and Itsuka can not see past the values aunty and uncle imparted to her.
That is not to say Nagomu is not overly heartened on the whole father thing, made clear to me, when Nagomu and Itsuka head over to the Amusement Park, he gets mistaken by the staff as Itsuka’s dad, and let’s just say he is giddy. Okay – it might be a little weird, but then Itsuka actually lets it happen and doesn’t deny it when they buy a snack from the street vendor. She pulls at him when she feels anxious over not finding him and feels like she was abandoned once more. So what’s the deal here? Playing hot and cold with Nagomu’s emotions is the part I don’t like. I don’t mind “tsundere” characters, as they are the spice of life, but putting down others and playing with their hearts seemingly for your own amusement and only when convenient to you, is selfish and incredibly immature. Something that strikes me odd as Itsuka is presented as this overly mature girl. Only on one or two occasions has Itsuka actually empathized with Nagomu and tried to see things his way. And only because she went overboard and realized it.
I don’t know, can you blame me for feeling their relationship was forced?
Why even bother, you know?
Clearly, they left things open for a second season or second cour. Not fully opening the can of worms that is Tomoe, but I mean it’s pretty obvious…
Deaimon works great as a drama about the shop, the inner workings of sweet making, and Buddhist traditions, but it’s never remarkable about the relationship with Nagomu and Itsuka, it’s so afraid to go out of its shell, worrying that it might step on a predatory narrative, that it fails to properly build its characters past a 2D shell. Nagomu becomes the punching bag for Itsuka, her emotional dumpster, someone she can expel her trauma and further hinder his heart, with little to no emotional repercussions. Nagomu will take it, and smile about it to his coworkers.
Episodes go nowhere sometimes and the story feels like it’s more interested in filling out its B plot rather than going full swing with its original hook. What can I say? I am unable to fully recommend Deaimon as the next wholesome-feel good anime that will get your heartstrings moving, but it’s a good anime if you are interested in learning about traditional Japanese sweets and the untold stories, traditions, and day to day of those behind the counter. That is to say, if you can ignore a failed story about a deadbeat dad rising to meet unrealistic standards.
Full-length images: 39.