by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Community score: 4.5
I can't draw for the life of me, but I am friends with plenty of artists, and at some point I've seen all of them complain about turning their sketches into line art. Kakushigoto goes for the throats of all of them this week with a painfully relatable series of sketches about the gap between our mind's eye and harsh reality. This bit feels like classic Kōji Kumeta material to me, especially when the ever-helpful Tomaruin suggests that Kakushi just go ahead and publish his roughs if he thinks they look better. It's self-evidently a horrible solution—it's not even a solution, when you think about it—but at the same time, it tempts us. The easiest way to avoid doing something we dislike is to just not do it, and we can rationalize our way out of extra work, why wouldn't we? Kumeta loves prodding at elementary human weaknesses, and that in turn helps his comedy feel more pointed. This isn't at all limited to visual artists either; I've had plenty of situations where I have an outline I'm excited about, but the act of transposing it into complete sentences becomes a confusing slog through a swamp of words.
As per usual, however, this commentary on Kakushi's work life becomes a lens through which Kumeta explores much bigger ideas. Between the jokes about art block and first impressions, Kakushigoto turns an introspective eye towards the disconnect between our idealized lives and the decidedly unideal ones we inevitably end up living. It's a message that rings especially loudly in the middle of a global crisis that continues to destabilize and destroy. I'm certain Kakushi never foresaw himself raising his daughter on his own while also keeping his life's work a secret from her. It's becoming increasingly obvious that his motivation for doing so isn't purely out of concern for Hime's practically crystalline innocence. His feelings of shame and inadequacy stem from his in-laws and are compounded by the loss of his wife. On a very deep level, Kakushi does not believe he deserves to be Hime's father, but thankfully Hime is always there to remind him that he does have more than enough love and thoughtfulness to be a good dad.
Life is one big mess, so it's our responsibility to make it suck a little bit less for each other as much and as often as we can. Here too we see some of Kumeta's maturity mold his sharp comedic instincts into something a little softer and, ironically, more poignant. Kakushi's loud lamentations over arbitrary celebrations are certainly something I've thought a lot about. I don't really like celebrating my birthday, and it's even harder to muster enthusiasm when I'm supposed to celebrate a non-milestone age like 32 (which is approaching much sooner than I'd care to admit). However, Kakushi later walks his exasperation back when it comes to thinking about Hime and her life. She's had to bear her own hardships even at her very young age, so it's all the more important that she takes every opportunity she can to throw parties and grow closer to the people she loves. Despite the many happy moments she and her dad share, the transience of life quietly haunts both of them. The cruel truth is that we can never be certain how long any of us will be around, and all we can do—all we must do—is celebrate together while we can in the good times, forging the precious bonds that sustain us in the dark.
I didn't want to be too much of a downer there, and unfortunately my favorite joke this week is also predicated on something depressing, but it still made me smile. It's a small thing: Kakushi reveals that his wife, alongside the boxes for Hime, also left behind some boxes for him to help with whatever life would have in store. That's not in itself funny, but his comment that his box seems a bit “half-assed” compared to his daughter's brought an image to my mind of a woman, resigned to her own awful fate, sighing at the thought of her husband trying to grow up into a functional adult without her. Thus, she can't help but dunk on him a little bit beyond the grave, but surely that's also part of why she loved him in the first place. And Kakushi, to his credit, understands how lucky he continues to be.
Speaking of luck, Hime's new puppy's name provides a perfect opportunity to explain some more esoteric Kōji Kumeta wordplay! I'll again reiterate that I'm not fluent, so I may make some mistakes, but I think I nailed the gist of what's going on here. When Hime approaches the desk, the clerk notices her paper and asks ”Gotouroku da yoroshii desu ka?”, which roughly translates to “Are you ready to hand in your registration?” After Hime's initial confusion, she clarifies, ”Gotouroku desu yo ne?”, or “That's a registration you have, right?” In both cases, the clerk begins with gotouroku, which is the Japanese word for registration, touroku, preceded by the honorific prefix go-, which the clerk is using in order to be polite. However, because Hime is tiny and airheaded, she's misinterpreting this as the phonetically identical “Gotou Roku,” which is her own last name followed by the given name Roku (remember, Japanese places the family name first). So in her mind, the clerk is saying “Is ‘Gotou Roku’ okay with you?” and “The name is 'Gotou Roku,' right?” referring in both cases to her new dog. Hime is already stressing over this, so she assumes that coming up with names is a part of thes receptionist's job and goes along with it. Not to mention, Roku is a pretty cute name.
Now I know I just dedicated that whole paragraph to explaining this joke, but I didn't really need to, because the translation does yet another admirable job trying to fit this square peg into the English language's non-Euclidean hole. While it isn't exactly what the clerk is saying, “got to lock down” and “got to record” sound close enough to “Gotou Roku” that the audience will pick up what's going on—Hime is mishearing the clerk and thus deriving the name from that misunderstanding. Good translations take context and intent into account. A simplistic one-to-one word substitution here would have rendered this joke nonexistent, and since the joke is the whole point of this scene, that's the most important thing to preserve across languages. It's not even a particularly important joke in the scope of the whole episode, but I commend the localization team for taking the time to make it work.
All in all, this was another funny and lovely episode of Kakushigoto. Lately, it seems like each subsequent episode has managed to refine its formula into something a little bit stronger, getting closer to the perfect blend of absurd comedy and heartwarming familial anecdotes. Even with all the cancellations and delays, I've found this spring anime season to be a particularly strong one, and Kakushigoto has so far earned a place near the top.
By the way if you haven't listened to the full ED yet, please do! The encroaching summer weather gets me in the mood for city pop, and this is a classic song from a classic album by Eiichi Ohtaki. Enjoy some safe and socially-distanced beach vibes~
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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