by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Dagashi Kashi ?
Community score: 4.0
Dagashi Kashi pulled off its most consistently funny episode by far this week, featuring two half-episode stories that were each more compelling than almost any of its prior material. It was a fundamentally simple episode, and each of its halves was more or less based on one extended gag - but those gags were strong ideas, and the show played into them well. If this is the standard of comedy we can expect going forward, we have a lot to look forward to.
The first half opened strong, with Hotaru in a blindfold falling over herself in her excitement to introduce her newest dagashi plan. This time, the featured snack was fugashi - little sticks of wheat gluten covered in brown sugar. Hotaru explained all of this to the wall in a rush, before challenging Kokonotsu to a blindfolded, hands-tied taste-testing competition.
Hotaru's enthusiasm is pretty much a given in this show, but it was nice to see Kokonotsu being equally caught up in this silly competition. When Kokonotsu is just the straight man gawking at Hotaru, jokes tend to fall flat; when both of them are being dagashi dorks together, they can both play off each other in a comedic sense and also come off as a more endearing and believable pair of friends. And the conceit of the blindfolded taste-testing competition was actually followed through on with some dramatically satisfying deductions, along with more of Dagashi Kashi's standard physical humor and parodies. The show actually committed to this joke in a narrative sense, creating absurd drama and upping the comedy stakes throughout. And having Kokonotsu's “trump card” of a secret fugashi basically combine the show's instincts towards comedy and fanservice (Hotaru chomps through an extremely phallic snack while making profound deductions about its candy nature) made for a more natural and entertaining sequence than when the show just segues haphazardly between them.
The second half was strong in much the same way as the first, this time highlighting Glico caramels through a race from the dagashi store to the Endos' cafe. Kokonotsu was once again right there with Hotaru for her fantastical plan, and the show once again consistently doubled down on the fundamental humor conceit. Not only was the underlying plan here fairly meaningless (get back to the cafe in time to avoid having Saya see an embarrassing drawing), but Hotaru and Kokonotsu's “solution” to that problem was also ridiculous, assuming a total faith in a cheap caramel's ability to power a runner up for exactly three hundred meters.
This joke was much better for the show not drawing attention to it. Nobody actually said “wait, that's ridiculous, calories don't work that way” - instead, the show instead committed one hundred percent to its faux-sports drama conceit. There were constant recalculations of how much caramel energy would translate into running time, and desperate gambits to shave seconds off the clock. There was a moment of despair when it seemed like Kokonotsu wouldn't have enough caramel to make it to the cafe, and a heroic sacrifice when Hotaru revealed she'd saved one caramel to push Kokonotsu to the end. Hanging an entire episode half on one extended parody sequence is a risky gambit, but this episode varied its jokes and extrapolated on its fundamentally strong ideas all throughout, offering consistent laughs, tongue-in-cheek dramatic tension, and more chemistry between Hotaru and Kokonotsu than any episode before. As far as sparingly animated gag comedies go, episodes like this are pretty much as good as it gets.
Dagashi Kashi is currently streaming on Funimation.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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