The Summer 2015 Anime Preview Guide
Castle Town Dandelion
How would you rate episode 1 of
Castle Town Dandelion ?
Community score: 3.3
Review: Castle Town Dandelion started off well enough for me. We're first introduced to a large family of nine children, ranging in age from elementary to high school-aged kids. As they sit down to eat breakfast, they chat about everyday things—who's going to pick up toilet paper, what ingredients are in the omelet. And then the dad sets down the newspaper. He's wearing a crown. Because he's the king. Sigh.
And in addition to deciding that he wants his kids to live as normal of a family life as possible, in a security camera-filled suburb, he wants his successor to be decided via general election. Sigh.
Also his kids have super powers. Sigh.
And the one who really, really hates cameras and public attention keeps getting in situations where her panties are being revealed. Sigh sigh sigh.
When I was wasn't sighing loudly at my screen, I was rolling my eyes or checking to see how much time was left in the episode. Everything about this first episode was so exhausting that I resorted to yelling at my laptop, hoping that somehow it would make it go away. The quirkiness of the setup is so forced that the entire episode was a drag to watch. And every time I thought that the show had hit rock bottom, something new was revealed that piled yet more recycled nonsense onto the heap. By the time the credits delivered me from my misery, I was certain that the show had used up every shlocky cliché ever put on paper.
The only saving graces of Castle Town Dandelion are this: the siblings are delightfully sweet and uncatty about the general election (if there was an evil saboteur sibling, I would've rage quit the episode), and the show is somewhat insightful about the pitfalls of being born into a celebrity life. If there is any room for this series to claw its way to higher ground, it may be through the latter. Considering that thus far, it's just a dumping grounds for rote, hacky garbage, the odds don't look good (but perhaps the sibling whose super power is super-statistics can crunch those numbers—his powers seem to be the only one that might actually be useful in running a government).
If the characters weren't also painfully generic, there might have been something to look forward to with a large cast, but we're denied on all fronts. Not only does it not seem as though any of them will be developed beyond their superpowers and general election profiles (the series is based on a four-panel comic strip), they all look regurgitated from a How to Draw Anime manual as well. Every last one of them has the same blank eyes and generic face, and each could be pulled from a number of undeveloped visual novels.
Somewhere, deep, deep, deep underneath the rubble is the trappings of an interesting idea, but it sure didn't manifest itself in the first episode.
Castle Town Dandelion is available streaming at Funimation.com.
Review: If you're looking for an entirely different concept this season, this adaptation of a 4-koma manga may be your best bet. Certainly nothing in recent memory even comes close to comparing to its mix of reality TV, super-powers, and domestic humor, even though a lot of its specific details are still couched in standard anime clichés and stereotypes. Only tentatively stepping outside of the box does limit its potential but does not keep it from being pretty funny at times.
The series almost immediately goes in an unusual direction by featuring a modern family which not only has intact parents but also has nine blood-related siblings (including two sets of twins, although that point is not made clear in the first episode). The catch is that even though they live in an ordinary-seeming, Japanese-style neighborhood and house, they are actually royalty, with the father being the land's king. King Soichiro has further declared that the one who sits on the throne next will be decided by popular vote, so the actions of the six daughters and three sons are regularly broadcast on a reality TV channel specific to the royal Sakurada family, much to the dismay of red-haired Akane, the third daughter and fourth child overall and the series’ primary viewpoint character. She's terribly shy and would just as soon not attract attention, to the point that she's willing to lose a televised plushie-gathering contest amongst the siblings in order to not stand out. All of her efforts are in vain, though, for her efforts to stop and purse-snatcher and penchant for accidental panty flashes leave her high in the popularity polls. Her only recourse, she decides, is to become king so she can put an end to the constant surveillance.
The other catch is that each of the royal children has a super-power, which is what undeniably marks them as royalty. These abilities range from teleportation to conversing with inanimate object to making duplicates which each represent one facet of the person's personality, and the first episode is determined to show them all off. That, unfortunately, bogs the episode down. Having so many active characters right from the start also prevents any of them beyond Akane from getting developed beyond a basic hook; the Next Episode segment suggests that the focus might get spread around a bit, though. Despite the panty flashes, the fan service potential here is more a tease than actual service, as the panty shots are talking about but not actually shown. (Part of the joke, perhaps?) The humor is not so much of a tease, although only a handful of the jokes hit well, and technical merits are very ordinary.
Overall, the concept has potential and Akane certainly makes a likably cute lead, although the trick is going to be in executing it properly.
Painfully shy Akane Sakurada just wants to be left alone. Unfortunately, Akane is the third of nine siblings in her country's royal family, and her father the king has set some pretty unusual rules for his country. Along with all of them living together in a normal family home and attending school like regular kids, Akane and her siblings are also watched at all times by an army of video cameras, and broadcast on their own dedicated television network. Additionally, her father has also declared that the new king will be decided by popularity contest between his nine children, and so Akane's daily life has become a kind of game show featuring constant surveillance. Oh, and also all of the siblings have special royal superpowers. For some reason.
If I had to pick a word to describe Castle Town Dandelion, I think I'd go with “harmless.” Dandelion is a harmless show, full of harmless scenes that are more or less pleasant to look at. Akane's not the most distinctive character, but she's endearing enough, and I actually really like the concept of a show where the focus is very specifically on a large set of siblings, and not any external high school drama. All of the siblings have reasonably defined personalities, and there already seem to be a variety of specific interrelationships within the larger family. The premise here is absolutely ridiculous, but ridiculous can be a good thing, and a bunch of the variables here work well together. I like the idea that all these put-upon siblings are really just doing their best to deal with their father's eccentricities, and small sight gags like the evening newspaper always having a blurb about how the kids are doing are a cute touch.
On the negative side, Dandelion also doesn't really shine in any way, either. Though the royal family premise is interesting, the superpowers feel like they only distract from that, filling up time with generic shenanigans instead of focusing on the potentially compelling relationships between the siblings. The show also isn't very funny - this first episode's one running joke involved people seeing Akane's panties, and I don't know about you, but even if that joke were ever funny, I'd say it's certainly run its course in 2015. The character designs aren't particularly inspired, and there's not really much animation to speak of. Overall, if you're really interested in a show that conveys big family life, you might want to give this one a shot, but otherwise this show is just a bit too flavorless to recommend.
Aw shucks, this was pretty cute.
It's a good thing that Castle Town Dandelion succeeds so well at being cute, because there's not much else notable about it. The art and animation are competent at best, and there's nothing to sing about in the direction or atmosphere to set the show apart, but the visuals get the job done and keep all the character designs distinct. This is particularly important because this little comedy is about a family of eleven. There's King Dad, Queen Mom, and their nine kids, living in a fictional nation that's basically identical to modern-day Japan and working to endear themselves to their future subjects. Even inside of one episode, the series does a great job of making all the kids distinct, and the way they relate to one another should be heart-warmingly familiar for anyone who's lived through the multiple sibling dynamic. Not that they're a "normal" family, by any means. King Dad has decided to pit his kids against each other in a little friendly competition.
You see, only one of the nine children can become king someday, and because their dad is an eccentric weirdo, he decided to start living among the common folk (protected by a giant network of security cameras) and hold a popular election for which one of his children will succeed him. This popularity contest is further complicated by his progeny's royal "gifts." They have superpowers. Of course they do. (They range from fairly generic like super strength or teleportation to downright weird like the ability to communicate with inanimate objects or create anything out of thin air at the cost of its value from your bank account. It makes for a nice balance of comfortable and bizarre that's pretty engaging.)
Our heroine is the incredibly shy third-oldest-or-so who wants nothing to do with the election or any public attention whatsoever. The show's initially nonsensical title is actually a clever little reference to her: she would rather be a dandelion in the castle courtyard than a queen on the throne. That is until she realizes that if she becomes king, she will finally have the power to shut herself off from the public through her own rule of law. So after winning the love of the people entirely by accident, she decides to commit to the race to become king, with the full support of her sister (who is also one rank above her in popularity.)
Most of the jokes range from warm and fuzzy to mildly naughty, but there's nothing too unique about the show's humor, good or bad. There are panty jokes aplenty thanks to the heroine's shyness being combined with her ability to become lighter-than-air, but they're relatively tasteful and not overtly sexualized. It's an all-around pleasant time, so check it out if you're in the mood for a family comedy and you don't mind the execution being a little lukewarm. This one is basically destined to be forgotten in three months, but before its run is over, its dysfunctional little family might warm your heart on gloomy Monday afternoons this summer.
There's a good chance that if you've grown up in a big family, you'll relate to the opening scenes of Castle Town Dandelion. Akane, the heroine, is one of nine siblings (it looks like there was at least one set of twins) in a house with one bathroom. The daily struggle for toilet, sink, and shower is just a brief scene before we get to the meat of the story, but it's a good one, and in some ways it captures what's at the heart of this story: a big, loving family. The twist? The father is actually the king of their country and he wants his children to grow up as normally as possible, so they all live in a regular house and he commutes to the palace to work. It's a cute concept, and the show mostly pulls it off. To drive the plot, the king has one other rule: rather than oldest princess Aoi simply inheriting the throne, he's holding an election and the people will choose their next monarch out of the nine siblings. For Akane, this is a problem because she is really shy.
Had the show stuck with just that premise – shy princess and forced public presence – it actually would have done just fine, giving the story a chance to explore what it feels like to be shy in a world that expects you to be public. Instead Castle Town Dandelion feels the need to give each of the nine kids supernatural powers which serve as proof of their royal heritage, and Akane appears to somehow have reached high school without learning that if you have the ability to fly, perhaps you shouldn't do so in a skirt. While it is perfectly reasonable that a shy girl would be more upset than normal that her underwear might be seen, the added aspect of her ability to “control her weight,” which is a garbled way of saying that she can fly; presumably they mean that she can become light enough to float, strains credulity. If she's had this power her entire life, wouldn't she have figured out how to dress for it? More importantly for the show, this gives it license to indulge in dumb, censored panty jokes. At least one of them doesn't make any sense: why would Aoi, who has grown up with not just Akane, but also the other sisters as well in close quarters, be embarrassed by seeing her sister's underpants? That goes for brother Haru as well; big families, at least in my experience, rarely offer much privacy and the odds of seeing your sibling undressed are pretty good.
That aside, the portrayal of Akane's shyness feels very relateable to this shy person, and her wish to just blend into the background is well expressed. Her relationships with her siblings are also nicely done (as are theirs with each other), and while the king's plan may seem ludicrous, this episode actually pulls it off rather well. The character designs are a little run-of-the-mill and the animation is serviceable rather than spectacular, but there isn't much to object to on the visual front. I'm not sure how Akane's decision at the end of the episode will affect the story and I'll admit to a bit of worry about it, but this episode is mild and generally enjoyable.
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