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The Summer 2024 Anime Preview Guide
Dahlia in Bloom: Crafting a Fresh Start With Magical Tools

How would you rate episode 1 of
Dahlia in Bloom: Crafting a Fresh Start With Magical Tools ?
Community score: 3.6



What is this?

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After dying of overwork in Japan, Dahlia is reborn into a world filled with magic. Raised by a master of magical toolmaking, she develops a passion for the craft and becomes engaged to her father's apprentice. Before her father can see her wed, however, he suddenly passes away. As if this weren't enough, on the day before their wedding, her fiancé announces that he's in love—but not with her. Dahlia finally realizes she needs to live for herself. She vows to be her own woman from now on and devote herself to her craft, even if it's not quite the quiet life she was hoping for.

Dahlia in Bloom: Crafting a Fresh Start With Magical Tools is based on the light novel series written by Hisaya Amagishi and illustrated by Kei. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Saturdays.


How was the first episode?

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Caitlin Moore
Rating:

If I had a dollar for every time I told a child not to do something without supervision because it could be dangerous if something went wrong and they argued back that they should be allowed to do it because they'll be fine, I wouldn't be writing this review because I would be the richest woman in the world. Well, me and everyone else who works with young children. With this in mind, I couldn't help but develop a rich appreciation for Dahlia in Bloom and its understanding of children and their lack of self-preservation instincts.

The premise is very similar to MagiRevo—a woman reincarnates in another world and uses memories of her previous life to make magic devices that resemble technology from her previous world—but the vibes are very different. Dahlia in Bloom aims for a relaxing atmosphere and you know what? It achieves it. Although the plot summary focuses on her adult life, this episode covers her childhood; more specifically, her relationship with her father, Carlo.

Carlo is an excellent dad. Okay sure, his daughter almost burned the house down because he gave her access to dangerous equipment and assumed she'd heed his warnings not to use it without him around. Still, other than that, he's great! He's attentive and supportive of her interests, giving her the freedom to explore and develop her skills. When she almost burns the house down, instead of getting mad he accepts his responsibility and sets boundaries with her that he can realistically expect her to follow. It's just nice to see—and the strength of his parenting shows in the way they banter back and forth after a time skip.

However, the visual presentation leaves a lot to be desired. The first signs of trouble came months ago when multiple levels of outsourcing led to suspicions that parts had been animated in North Korea. The downside of watching so many anime premieres is you learn to spot signs of shoddy animation that may have slipped by you otherwise—and while Dahlia in Bloom has yet to disintegrate, it uses shortcuts to hide poor work that drives me batty. The edges of the frame are always slightly blurred, which gets annoying every time what we're supposed to be looking at isn't in the dead center of the screen. Shadows come in the form of diagonals cutting across characters' bodies, no matter where or what the light source is. Once you notice it, you'll never be able to stop seeing it.

I don't want poor production values to push a nice, shoujo-ish crafting story off my watchlist but it wouldn't be the first time. Maybe the Kou Ohtani score will keep it there for longer.


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Richard Eisenbeis
Rating:

I like the twists on the typical formula we're seeing in this anime. Sure, the setup is that of a bog-standard isekai story: We have an adult woman, who worked herself to death, reborn in a fantasy world. However, Dahlia does not act like an adult in a child's body like a standard isekai protagonist. Instead, she acts like the child she's supposed to be despite her other-world memories.

In other words, Dahlia possesses the knowledge of a 20-something-year-old modern Japanese woman but biologically, she is a little girl. Her mind and personality are governed by her environment and brain development—not by something as innocuous as a soul. This episode shows us the inherent problems with such a discordance. In her mind's eye, she can see a hair drier—knows that a magical version should be able to be made using a windstone and a firestone. Yet, when she tries to build the image in her head, she inadvertently creates a flamethrower. Sure, an adult would see this coming a mile away but a young child would lack the critical thinking needed. This creates an interesting character—a girl with raw information dumped into her brain but lacking the wisdom to use it.

Then we get her father—the man tasked with raising such a daughter. He can tell she's not like other children. At times, her brilliance makes her seem like a little adult—which causes him to believe she won't make the same mistakes as other children (i.e., doing things they've been told not to do). This episode is all about him learning that, not only does Dahlia have dangerous gaps in her knowledge but that she is desperate for his approval—and a mixture of these two weak points could spell disaster for them.

Building on this, I like the idea that Dahlia's earth memories aren't a simple “I win at life” button. Even as a young woman who has worked with her magic artificer father and studied zealously to become one for years, she's still unable to bring her ideas into reality. While she may have memories of modern technology and even an understanding of the principles behind how many of them worked, it's much harder than it looks to recreate our world's technology with magical technology.

So how will this show play out in the long run? I have no idea. It could very well devolve into your typical isekai story where our heroine solves every problem with her real-world knowledge. However, this first episode is a novel take on the formula and one I thoroughly enjoyed. It's given me more than enough to want to tune back in next week.


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Rebecca Silverman
Rating:

Dahlia Rosetti doesn't appear to have learned. Possibly that's because, unlike 99% of isekai stories that use reincarnation as their base, she doesn't seem to have recalled her past life in Japan, where she died of overwork. At least, that's the implication from the first scene, and by the end of this episode, Dahlia and her father Carlo are forgoing sleep to craft a new magic device, something that holds true for adult Dahlia at the close of the episode as well. But maybe the difference is that she's not alone now – the woman who dies in the beginning appears to be entirely by herself, while Dahlia enjoys a close, healthy relationship with her father. That's probably my favorite part of this episode: Dahlia and Carlo are a warm, loving family, and Carlo is clearly looking out for his daughter's best interests. When she predictably ignores his warnings not to start messing with magic devices on her own and nearly burns the house down, he doesn't yell at her. Instead, he calmly protects her, puts out the blaze, and then scolds her – but gently. Anime hasn't always excelled at father/daughter relationships, but this show is absolutely getting it right.

The device in question is a hair dryer, and we can guess that even if Dahlia doesn't realize she was reborn, she's definitely got some modern know-how lurking in her subconscious. When she realizes what Carlo does for work, she immediately begins dreaming up devices that are recognizable to the audience – the hair dryer, cars, phones, spaceships…things she would have been familiar with before. To Carlo it just looks like she's got a great imagination and a lot of ambition, and that makes this one of the more subtle uses of past life knowledge. Dahlia's not crowing about using her modern know how to bring up the level of the world or make a fortune; she's genuinely invested in inventing things because that's what makes her happy. It goes a long way to making her a much more pleasant isekai protagonist than we typically see. No revenge, no avariciousness, just something she enjoys doing that she can use her memories to pull off. She's also not too precious a child. Although she is grown up by the end of the episode, there's nothing gooey-sweet about the childhood portion, and the art eschews making her too cute for her own good. This is just grounded in a good way, and the art helps to reflect that.

I admit to trepidation going into Dahlia in Bloom. I've read the first couple of light novels the series is based on, and while I enjoyed about three-quarters of book one, I found that the remaining fourth and the entire second novel wandered away from the plot in service of endless descriptions of food and drink, which frankly wasn't why I picked up the books in the first place. Those worries remain after watching the first episode, not because it's charging ahead into those sections of the books, but because it's such a faithful adaptation that I'm afraid it will. Still, this first episode is in itself perfectly lovely taken on its own.


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Nicholas Dupree
Rating:

The first thing you're bound to notice about this premiere is that it's at war with its own production values. There is clearly a strong directorial ambition behind this episode, from the scene transitions to the many attempts at cinematic camera movement, to the way scenes are lit and staged, you can tell they're trying for something here. Unfortunately all that effort has to contend with a budget of chewing gum and pocket lint, and the results look pretty bad. There's a ton of CG environments that never look right. The attempts to frame characters through window panes look like poorly cropped PNGs. Any movement more complex than standing still and talking looks incredibly stiff. It's an ambitious mess, but that ambition only makes the mess more difficult to ignore.

If you can get past that, the second thing you're bound to notice is that this story is cute as all hell. While I'm still not sure how the isekai reincarnation gimmick ties into Dahlia's new life – besides obviously having memories of modern technology that she has to reverse engineer using magic stones – Dahlia and her father make for a wonderful cast to follow. Their dynamic is pretty familiar – the precocious child and their mentor/parent who has to balance teaching them a trade and parenting them – but in practice their relationship is warm, charming, and just god damn adorable. I love how, even in the brief glimpses we get of a teenage Dahlia, we can see how she's picked up her father's habits like sleeping at her desk. I love how Carlo is clearly trying to be a responsible parent, but can't help himself when he realizes Dahlia's talent and passion that match his own. On top of being charming, it's just strong overall characterization that makes you want to come back for more.

My biggest worry is that we don't really have a good idea of what the story going forward will be like. Will it be an invention-of-the-week kind of thing, where Dahlia has to tackle some new invention or master a different technique? Who knows! The setting is pretty hazy right now – all we really know is that magic and monsters exist, as evidenced by the repeated shots of slimes and pterodactyls. There's apparently elements to that magic, and it can be stored in stones, but everything else is left up to the imagination. We also don't really meet any characters outside our father-daughter duo.

Those problems, combined with the production struggles, make this a little harder to recommend than I'd like, but I'm still happy to do it. There's some strong ideas and writing going on here, and a production team that clearly cares, even if they have to hold this thing together with twine and prayer. If you're looking for a cozy story with likable characters and potentially interesting fantasy elements, then this is certainly worth your time.


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James Beckett
Rating:

I've been on something of a Myst kick this summer, and I had even just finished up a chapter in one of the old Myst novels from the 90s just before turning on the premiere of Dahlia in Bloom. Maybe that's why I found myself enjoying the premiere as much as I did. The rustic cobblestone aesthetic of Dahlia in Bloom, combined with our titular protagonist's obsession with magical gadgets and alchemical trinkets, gives me cozy Myst vibes.

Granted, the relationship between Dahlia and her father is much more wholesome than the family drama going in in the Myst games, but I digress. Dahlia in Bloom is one of the better isekai anime of the season, if only because it is able to overcome it's familiar trappings with some good old-fashioned wholesomeness that makes the show easy to watch. Dahlia is precocious and gifted with inspiration based on the high-tech gizmos of her previous life, but she's not so fantastically brilliant that she can just overcome the natural barriers of being a little kid. Also, she's not played with annoying levels of cutesiness, either, which makes it so much more bearable to spend as much time as we do with her in the premiere.

Plus, I just dig the basic premise of Dahlia using her know-how not just for personal gain, but to bring hitherto unknown conveniences to the people of her new world. It reminds me of Parallel World Pharmacy, in that way. If you can't balance the incredible knowledge of a lifetime spent in another world with some reasonable amounts of humanity and curiosity, then what is the point. By the end of this premiere, I was rooting for our girl to be even more successful in her future ventures.

That said, I'm not telling you to go running towards the nearest exits and speed home immediately to add Dahlia in Bloom to your watchlist. It's no amazing work of art, at least not yet. It's perfectly fine, bordering on decently good. It won't change anyone's life, but it will likely provide a good amount of company while sipping on a mug of warm tea or thinking about your favorite adventure stories from your childhood.



Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.

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