The Spring 2022 Preview Guide
Deaimon: Recipe for Happiness

How would you rate episode 1 of
Deaimon: Recipe for Happiness ?
Community score: 4.1

What is this?

Nagomu is a man who left his home in Kyoto and his family's confectionary shop when he became a musician. Upon hearing that his father has been hospitalized though, he comes back home to take over the family business. However, while he was gone, a young girl named Itsuka started working at the shop. The whereabouts of Itsuka's parents is unknown, and she has no other relatives, and Nagomu finds himself as foster parent for Itsuka. Itsuka, on the other hand, dislikes Nagomu for abandoning the family to become a musician. She proclaims that it will be her who will take over the shop one day instead of Nagomu.

Deaimon: Recipe for Happiness is based on Rin Asano's manga and streams on Crunchyroll on Wednesdays.

How was the first episode?

Caitlin Moore

While perhaps Usagi Drop is the most obvious comparison, Deaimon reminded me most of Poco's Udon World, a lovely series about a man who moves back home to take over his family's udon shop and finds himself caring for a young tanuki as a father figure that no one watched. It's cozy and gentle, exploring the intersection and tensions between modern adulthood and maintaining family and cultural traditions. Nagomu always genuinely loved the wagashi he made, but his love was a bit too intense and he ended up pursuing a career as a musician instead. Now that his band has broken up, he comes home and has to renavigate his relationship with his family, with wagashi, and with this new little interloper named Itsuka.

Okay, “interloper” is a little rude and not even really representative of how Nagumo or the show's narrative regard her. After all, it's not like Itsuka chose to be there; she was abandoned by her parents, left in the hands of basically strangers, and feels obligated to work far harder than any ten-year-old should need to. The way the two play off each other is sweet. Nagumo is a huge goof, a big puppyish man full of nothing but love, enthusiasm, and a willingness to make a fool of himself, while Itsuka is far too serious and hardworking for her age, denying her own childhood due to her sense of obligation and trauma over abandonment.

I've seen this described as “dadime” (a portmanteau of "dad" and "anime"), which is one of my personal weaknesses. While Nagumo is old enough to be Itsuka's father, I don't think it's quite accurate. He's more of a big brother than a dad, but either way, he's exactly what Itsuka needs. I look forward to seeing their relationship unfold.

James Beckett

I'm the kind of guy that's awfully susceptible to the allure of “Dad Simulators” like The Walking Dead games or The Last of Us, though I haven't had so much luck with such subject matter in anime outside of a select few titles (Hinamatsuri comes to mind, and maybe Kakushigoto). Maybe that means I just have an unhealthy fixation on grimdark tragedies stuffed with zombies and betrayal, or maybe I just have a hard time vibing with the overly cutesy approach that comedy anime tend to approach the concept with. I also love the culinary arts, though, and I was interested to see if Deaimon clicked with me because of the educational potential.

I wasn't one hundred percent on board with the central dynamic that Nagomu and Itsuka shared at first, but they could become quite endearing given enough time. There's not much to say about Nagomu at first, a rather run-of-the-mill sort of guy that fails to inspire a whole lot of interest on his own, and Itsuka's arrival as the supposed “true” heir of the family confectionary came across as a bit contrived for my tastes. The best of these surrogate-father-meets-unlikely-daughter stories make the two characters seem like a natural fit for one another, even when they're at odds, and I just wasn't sure if this pair had that level of chemistry.

By the end of the episode, though, I was feeling more positively about the story. Itsuka is trying her gosh best to do a good job, and she deserves a pat on the head, damn it. The way that she and Nagomu are able to slowly forge their familial bond is predictable but eventually rather sweet. I could see Deaimon growing on me a lot of its protagonists continue to develop and grow at a solid pace. I don't know if this anime is going to skyrocket to the top of my watchlist, but I'll gladly check out another episode or two, just in case it ends up being a surprise success after all.

Richard Eisenbeis

Plot-wise, this anime is quite simple: a man moves back into his parents' home to help out with the family business only to discover they have taken in an orphan. Needless to say, rather than being plot-driven, this anime is character-driven. And although it has only 22 minutes of runtime, Deaimon does some darn good character building.

On one hand we have Nogamu: the man with no shame. He wears his heart on his sleeve and lets criticism bounce off of him like it's nothing. What's interesting is that he did have someone whose words he took to heart: his late grandfather. The reason he left the family business in the first place, despite loving it dearly, was overhearing his grandfather say he wasn't suited for the job. And rather than confronting his grandfather, he ran away to Tokyo to become a musician instead.

Our secondary lead, Itsuka has also built her world around the words of the most important person in her life: her father. Unwilling or unable to continue his life as a single father, Itsuka's father abandoned her with Nogamu's family, telling the young girl that she was useless shortly before disappearing into the night. Thus, Itsuka is determined to be useful—to show the world that she is not only self-sufficient but can be depended on when troubles arise. Of course, despite the pain and anger in her heart, it's clear that her reason for becoming this way isn't to prove her father wrong but rather the irrational hope that should she succeed, her father will return for her. It's heartbreaking, especially when you remember she actively goes to the train station after school looking for men with guitars (the image she has of her father).

And what's interesting is that while Nogamu's mother wants him to take on a fatherly role in Itsuka's life, that's not what she needs now. What she needs is a friend who can understand what she's going through—someone who understands that the words of someone you love can shape your entire world. That is what Nogamu an Itsuka share and that will be the basis for their relationship as things continue forward. It's a solid emotional core to build a series around and I look forward to seeing how things go next week.

Nicholas Dupree

Alright, time for another Dad anime! It's been a little while since we last got a show about a single 30-something dude suddenly becoming a parental figure to a young girl, and since we still haven't gotten a second season of Barakamon, this cozy little muffin of a show will have to do. I use muffin because I know precisely nothing about traditional Japanese sweets. But I do know a thing or two about found family shows, and so far Deiamon's off to a decent, if unexceptional start.

Though the Dad Anime bit may be a little premature. Sure, the show itself is insistent about it – Itsuka first meets Nagomu by mistaking him for her absentee father, and Nagomu's own mother basically asks him to become the girl's surrogate parent. But Nagomu himself doesn't really have Dad energy, adoptive or otherwise. He's got the vibe of an adult older brother who went off to do his own thing after college, or sometimes he's kind of Steve from Blue's Clues where he seems as much like a child as the actual 10-year-old. This gives him a somewhat unique dynamic with Itsuka that can be pretty charming at its best, but can also feel too vague to give their interactions the bite necessary to carry a lot of this episode.

Itsuka, on the other hand, is all but certainly going to carry this show if the premiere is anything to go on. Her personal conflict of feeling she has to be “useful” in order to maintain her place at the shop – and with her loving caretakers – speaks to some serious trauma. And seeing her slowly come to accept the unconditional love of her new home and family could be heartwarming as all get-out. So if they can build a good rapport between here and Nagomu, I think there's room for a really nice show in here.

I just wish the way we got to all that was a little less clumsy. There's a scene where, unprompted, Nagomu just unloads his entire backstory for leaving the family business for a full decade, and it's all built on how he gets really upset over selling his family's beloved sweets to other people. Meanwhile the climactic conflict comes from some random person prank calling the store with a fake order, and I guess none of the adults at the store thought to get contact information or take any sort of deposit before committing to a big(?) order of sweets. It's an awkward and contrived way to have Itsuka mess up without actually messing up, so that it can be easily resolved in time for credits to roll, which makes the resolution feel artificial. In a show that is built on personal emotions and relationships, that's a bad sign.

But those could just be growing pains from having to get all of this out in a single episode, and I'd like it if the show could find its footing. It's no Barakamon, but few things are. If it can get its act together, Deiamon could be plenty sweet and filling.

Rebecca Silverman

At least one star of this rating is for the scrumptious looking traditional Japanese sweets. That's important, since the show is set in a traditional confectionery, but even so each little manju and treat is a beautiful work of art that simultaneously makes you want to eat them and to carefully display them on the mantelpiece. I fully admit that I have a very, very sweet tooth, but even if I didn't the glimpses we get of the confections are just lovely.

That stands to be what this series is as a whole – just lovely, although certainly not without its angst. The confectionery, run by an older couple, is also home to two young people who are trying to work through some pretty heavy subjects in their lives. Nagomu, finally returning home after ten years, is coping with what looks an awful lot like a failed career as some sort of chestnut-themed singer while also coming to terms with the overheard conversation that sent him packing a decade ago. That almost pales in comparison to poor little Itsuka, whose father, a distant acquaintance of the shop owners, basically dumped her with them a year ago. That's put Itsuka in an unbearable position – a piece of her seems to know that the couple regards her as their grandchild and truly love her, but she also feels like she has to go above and beyond to make herself “valuable” to them, to prove that she deserves her place in their home. Presumably telling her that she would someday inherit the confectionary was intended to show her that they had no intention of throwing her out; instead it's become an additional burden on the girl, who now feels that she must be an even more determined worker to prove that she's allowed to be their grandchild.

That she'd see Nagumo as a threat since he's actually blood-related family makes a lot of sense, and not just to Itsuka. Her adoptive grandmother is well aware of how hard Itsuka is working herself and of the insecurities plaguing her, and while her request that Nagumo parent the girl (who, heartbreakingly, still looks for her missing dad at the train station frequently) is a bit much, it's also easy to see that she thinks she's helping both of them. And really, Nagumo is well-placed to help Itsuka deal with things, because he's the one she's afraid is usurping her place. It's all very poignant, and while those of us burned by the Bunny Drop manga's second half may be leery, I think this is going to be sweet in a few senses of the word.

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