Dagashi Kashi Episode 3
by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 3 of
Dagashi Kashi ?
This week's Dagashi Kashi opened with another one of those classic summer moments; standing in the heat, listening to the weird noises from your air conditioner and just waiting for it to break down. But as usual, Hotaru interrupted the peace of that moment with a new dagashi demonstration, this time dragging Endo along as she attempted to prove the importance of combining hot Buta-men noodles with the summer heat.
This first candy sequence was actually a little understated compared to prior ones, with no wacky extended sequences of Buta-men noodles crossing deserts or anything. Instead, Hotaru framed her preference for pork bone noodles as a reflection of dagashi psychology. When a kid enters the shop with just a bit of pocket change, if he's buying a more expensive dagashi, he's not going to want to experiment - he'll go for the flavor he knows he'll like. I actually found this tiny bit of semi-insight more compelling than most of the show's dagashi interludes, and was happy to see the episode return to this style of dagashi explanation near the end. One of the general appeals of cooking shows is that you often feel like you're actually learning something about cooking, and since that can't happen in the context of cheap premade candies, replacing cooking tips with insights into why candies are designed the way they are is a strong substitution.
This Buta-men demonstration also contained the episode's biggest fanservice sequences, as Hotaru enjoyed her noodles a bit too much and then started wilting in the summer heat. As weirdly sexual as they may be, sequences like this don't really tell me much about Hotaru as a person - so I was happy to see the second segment returned to the anime's ostensible plot, as Hotaru and Kokonotsu's father cooked up a scheme to get Kokonotsu invested in dagashi. Hotaru's desire to make Kokonotsu take over the shop is both her most recognizably human attribute and the thing actually giving this show some purpose, so it was nice to see this episode actually emphasize it.
The third major sequence went even further than that, and actually put us in Hotaru's head as she attempted to engage in a candy duel with the oblivious Endo. Not only did this sequence actually give us a very necessary look into Hotaru's thoughts, it was also the first legitimately funny part of the episode. After dithering around with silly faces and aborted punchlines, we finally got something approaching real jokes, disconnects of expectations sold by Hotaru's manic personality. And the way this segment humanized Hotaru was even more important than it being actually funny. So far, Hotaru's been mostly an idea of a person, a ridiculous device to create dagashi-based gags. But putting us inside her head both made for better jokes and humanized her, as we actually got to see her reasoning, and the internal way she turns everything into a competition. She's still an over-the-top character, but even over-the-top characters can feel like people.
The episode's last sequence, where Hotaru and Saya shared some coffee together, continued this welcome trend of humanizing Hotaru. Whereas the other characters mainly just stare at or humor the wacky candy girl, Saya actually seemed genuinely interested in her trivia, making her Hotaru's first real friend. When the show's framing is buying into Hotaru's nonsense, she feels more like the voice of the show's comedy than a human being; when Hotaru feels surprised to find someone who actually cares about her interests, she comes off more like a weird, obsessive kid who's happy to find a friend.
Overall, I found the first half of this episode pretty dull, but was very happy to see the second half actually try to make Hotaru into a real person. Dagashi Kashi isn't funny enough to survive as a comedy, but it could certainly work as a slice of life if it continues to treat its characters like people. Hopefully that trend continues in the episodes to come.
Dagashi Kashi is currently streaming on Funimation.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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