Castle Town Dandelion
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Castle Town Dandelion ?
How would you rate episode 11 of
Castle Town Dandelion ?
Who's ready for a Castle Town Dandelion double-header? This week our patience was rewarded with not only last week's delayed episode 10, but episode 11 too.
By now it's apparent that Castle Town Dandelion is wrapping up. The theme of this week's episodes was resolution. Old wounds were healed and old plots were concluded, all the while proving that these nine main characters are more than their archetypes originally implied and far more dependably entertaining than I ever predicted at the beginning.
Episode ten gave us two stories, each about two of the siblings. In “Search Light's Whereabouts,” Hikari wrestled with the decision to reveal her identity as an idol and her identity as a princess as one and the same, a choice complicated by the fact that her prickly costar, Sachiko, doesn't like royalty. This is also a story about Akane, who serves as the idols' assistant manager in an attempt to meet Sachiko, who she adores. Both Hikari and Akane have the means to get what they want simply by being royalty, but both of them decide to do the work instead to reach their goals. Really, the entire show to this point has set that precedent, given the way the siblings live in an ordinary house instead of a castle. It's what I call the “cute girls being cute” appeal of many Castle Town Dandelion stories. We get to enjoy the characters navigating through life's most mundane lessons. It's pleasant and inoffensive, but it's nothing new.
The second story, translated oddly as “Big Brother Acting Like A Big Bro,” contains more substance. It's about Kanade and the issues she still has about accidentally injuring Shu when they were children. It explains a lot about the mask Kanade wears in public, the way that even her friends find her distant and “unapproachable,” but of course her twin brother knows exactly what's up. Amazingly, the ever composed and smiling Kanade breaks down in public about this—she cares more about what happened with Shu than she does about her chances in the election, and that is deeply significant. Shu turns the tables by saving Kanade and allowing her to finally let go of her guilt. I interpret this scene as Shu demonstrating his virile individuality, showing Kanade that he's not a broken man but somebody who made a choice to save her, just like he did when they were kids. Kanade's complex comes from believing that Shu was a victim, not a participant. This is such an unusual cinematic turn for Castle Town Dandelion, with a scene colored by cool blues and greys, and intense violin music playing in the background. This is a great example of character growth, seeing Kanade face the same problem from a different direction and allowing us to see her in a new light.
If episode ten had its ups and downs, episode eleven was a complete treat the whole way through. The scene opens on the Sakurada siblings watching the election rankings at home—an election that is now only one week away! In the first couple episodes, scenes depicting all of the siblings at once were crowded and confusing. Now, their banter and interactions are easy and enjoyable to watch. By focusing on a few siblings per episode up until this point, we feel that we've really gotten to know and relate to each of them. Now an ensemble episode where everyone has a role isn't stilted, it's fun. It's the perfect backdrop for exploring Akane's most recognizable character trait—her shyness—and getting to the root of it as Hikari asks why Akane came to be so timid. It's the perfect healthy environment to explore this past trauma—surrounded by everyone who loves her. In past episodes, it felt like Akane was being exploited simply to see how she'd react to embarrassing situations. Now the series has achieved redemption for her. Instead of using Akane as a vehicle to produce shy-girl moe, the story is now moving in a direction that respects her as a character and helps her to grow.
Nearly every character has grown past their archetype by now. Aoi is the “big sister” type, but also vulnerable and troubled by her powers. Kanade is gentler now, since resolving things with Shu. Now that Akane isn't shy all the time, we get to see her dorky, silly side, which is much more entertaining! (This is especially true in a Home Alone-style recap of Akane's crime-fighting escapades as a child.) Still, the true potential of the Sakurada siblings isn't unlocked until Dad hurts his back and becomes unable to perform his kingly duties. Fortunately, he has nine super-powered children who can fill in for him. “They've all become so dependable,” the King observes. Yes, both as children and as interesting characters too. Scenes that involve all the siblings feel comfortable and casual at once now. It feels like we're sitting on the couch with them and being welcomed into this warm and supportive family.
There's one episode remaining, and the election is right around the corner. Now that we've watched these characters change and grow and care for one another, I no longer have a favorite to be the election winner. What's important to me now is not who wins, but watching how these newly familiar and increasingly likable characters react to the results.
Castle Town Dandelion is currently streaming on Funimation.
Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.
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