by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Kakushigoto may be a comedy prone to using exaggeration to highlight small everyday absurdities, but it must be said that Kakushi is completely right when he considers it a hallowed privilege to be raising Hime. She's an adorably airheaded little bundle of bangs and forehead, and every line both drawn and spoken makes sure the audience bears the full brunt of her cuteness. Of course Kakushi feels possessive when his jerk father-in-law tries to usurp the position of backpack buyer every year. Hime's precious precociousness knows no bounds, and even speaking as someone with zero interest in having my own kids, I have to admit: that's a good daughter right there.
Kōji Kumeta knows what he's doing, naturally, and Hime is a highly idealized portrait of a child meant to pull at the audience's heartstrings while also making us laugh, but it works. It also helps that the adaptation itself is committed to making her act and appear as cute as possible. This sells the first set of jokes about Kakushi taking the privilege he feels in regards to being Hime's dad and applying it to completely inappropriate situations like employment. It's a deceitfully insightful bit prodding at the ways corporations use hollow familial language to extract more labor out of its workforce without proper recompense. Kumeta takes it one step further by showing how these attitudes are so pervasive they even infect self-employed people like Kakushi. It's honestly barely an exaggeration on Kakushigoto's part, and that's what really makes this bit hit home.
Hime is unbearably cute, yes, but I do appreciate that Kakushigoto takes some time to reflect on how Kakushi perceives his daughter. The mysterious benefactor Naoto Date is just trying to get under his son-in-law's skin during their brief exchange, but intentionally or not, he manages to make Kakushi confront his own dad attitudes (or daditudes). The whole conceit of Kakushigoto is one man trying to pull the wool over his innocent daughter's eyes, but ultimately she's her own person, and Kakushi won't be able to hold her hand forever. The bittersweet frame story shows us as much. One way or another, Hime will be going out into the big world on her own, and whether she dates a filthy-minded mangaka or not will ultimately be her decision, not her father's.
That's why Kakushi has to raise her right, and what better way to do it than pull a classic sitcom switcheroo and try to be in two places at once! I could tell this was coming as soon as he double-booked an autograph session with his Hime playdate, and I'm so glad Kakushigoto chose not to disappoint my proclivity for hackneyed sitcom plotlines. Now I don't doubt that Hime had a great time at “Kidzanira,” but speaking frankly, I also find the concept of a play-place where kids go to masquerade as adults and earn fake money to be bleak as hell. I actually thought this was some classically acerbic Kumeta satire until I did a quick Google search. Like, don't get me wrong, I'm glad Hime had fun making an entire pile of Big Macs, but I'm a little disturbed by the fact that she was compensated with kiddie scrip. And do fake child doctors earn more than fake child fast food employees? What's a living wage in Kidzania? I have a lot of questions after this episode.
On Kakushi's side of things, his lack of self-esteem once again dominates the sketch as he proves to be psychologically incapable of accepting that people might respect him enough to want his autograph. Kakushi, buddy, I one hundred percent feel you there. It's largely played for some great laughs, but he also has a pretty real moment where he considers how the public perception of manga artists contrasts with the perception of fine artists. Due to the juvenile nature of his works especially, it's not surprising Kakushi's insecurity is rooted deep in his psyche, and that's no doubt a significant contributor to his obsession with hiding it from Hime. Lest things get too severe, however, the ever-helpful Tomaruin pulls Kakushi out of his depressive fog by confirming that in no universe is Kakushi important enough to warrant a fake autograph session full of paid actors. It's extremely mean and also my favorite joke in the episode. I find that certain depressive spirals are fueled by a kind of egotism, and it's important to have friends (or, in Tomaruin's case, editors) who know how to take you down a peg and give you some perspective. It's nice to see Kakushi bounce back and remember why he loves drawing manga, and I hope that's a love he manages to share with Hime one day.
As if to answer my plea in the cruelest way possible, the episode's epilogue shows Hime reading a manga that Kakushi left behind for her. This might be the first time she's read anything by her father, and it makes for an appropriately affecting scene. As the audience, we only get glimpses of the simple family life depicted on the pages, but we see the full brunt of Hime's tearful reaction, and it packs an emotional wallop. Kakushigoto continues to walk that precarious tightrope between comedy and sincerity, and its continued success is the mark of both Kumeta's maturity as a storyteller and the adaptation's sensitivity to its source material.
Kakushigoto is currently streaming on Funimation.
The state of the world has left Steve in despair! But never fear, he's still on Twitter too much.
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