Castle Town Dandelion
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Castle Town Dandelion ?
It's always a treat when an anime focuses on family. Too many shows suffer from Anime Missing Parent Syndrome, where one or both parents has suffered an untimely death—or worse—whose absence is never explained at all. This episode of Castle Town Dandelion not only avoids this trope, but even puts the spotlight on Mom and Dad for an especially heartwarming episode. This episode's two halves become a rare whole by focusing on two love stories separated by a generation and united by a single family.
In “Troubled Sato,” the siblings' powers are going berserk! Everyone seems to be going through a random period called Break Out where they can't control their powers. In Akane's case especially, it's difficult not to read this as a metaphor for puberty. Akane's body is not only changing (its relationship to gravity) but these changes are noticeable to others as well. More than ever, she doesn't want to leave the house, but she makes an exception for Shu's quasi-girlfriend Sato. I don't understand how Akane's gravity manipulation leads to her clothes ripping off, but Sato saves the day by loudly confessing her love to Shu on TV to a crowded cafe. Nobody can get on Akane's case about being afraid of being in public—if you lost your clothes when you were out and about, you'd also have a compulsion!
The stronger half is “The King's Side Trip,” which is a much more charming and succinct version of How I Met Your Mother. It turns out that the King has worked hard to give his children the exact opposite childhood from what he had—a normal everyday life with a big, boisterous family. Where the King struggled making friends and thought of people's houses as “side houses,” his children are infinitely more adjusted. For example, Akane humbly prevents the cafe waitress from giving her special seating for being royalty. His children are down to earth in a way he never had the chance to be. That changes, however, when he meets high school student Satsuki, the woman we all know is going to become his wife. Their story is all the more adorable because of this inevitability.
It made me smile to see how much the siblings in Satsuki's big family look like her kids today—Kanade, Teru, Shiori, and Haruka, to be specific. And of course, the young King is the spitting image of his son, Shu. That's just where the similarities begin. Shu's reaction to the story is “Did you hesitate when you knew you'd be putting mom through those hardships?”, referring to the difficulties of being in the public eye that Akane fears so much. In retrospect, it's hard to imagine serious, self-sufficient Satsuki ever being startled by publicity. Suddenly, the public confession that Sato made about Shu seems less like a detriment to her clout as a potential prince's girlfriend and more like her biggest strength. Shu's berserk teleportation power means he and Sato can have this heart-to-heart in the splendor of the Alpine tundra.
Like father, like son. This episode's strongest plot point was the parallel between Shu and his dad, the King. It's rare that we see families in anime—rarer still that we see loving, functional ones—making this my favorite episodes of Castle Town Dandelion yet. Now if only it could find another way to serve up the fanservice than embarrassing poor Akane over and over!
Castle Town Dandelion is currently streaming on Funimation.
Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.
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