Steve and Nick strap-in for puns, parodies, and family drama as they examine Kōji Kumeta's Kakushigoto. The series' stunning visuals are the backdrop in a story about one father's quest to keep his daughter from finding out his line of work as an ecchi manga artist. The premise seems thin; can it keep its goodwill running until the final episode?
You can read our Daily Streaming reviews for Kakushigoto here.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
Nick, it's difficult to assign words to the magnitude of emotions I have concerning literally everything right now. Thankfully, though, I have this picture of Hime to speak for me.
Stuff's real fuckin' bad right now Steve. But it's our duty to carry on in these trying times and keep things cheery.
Ah yes, my patented solution to "Oops I hope this text message doesn't sound too serious." Indeed, Kakushigoto
is full of valuable little lessons like that. And also this.
Yes, today we're covering Kakushigoto
, the story of Kakushi Goto, who kaku shigotos, but that's a kaku
shigoto. So he must concoct elaborate keikaku(shigoto)s to keep Hime Goto from learning this himegoto.
Translator's Note: I'm So Sorry.
We are deep in Kōji Kumeta territory here, where the puns flow like the mighty Amazon and the poor souls tasked with localizing them have only the porous paddles of the English language to save them.
Kumeta loves wordplay more than air itself, and I have only the deepest respect for the folks tasked with bringing any of his bullshit into a form I can actually parse.
Cultured readers might recognize Kumeta's style (both artwise and esoteric-wordplay-wise) from one of my most dearly-beloved shows, Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei
. It's been quite a while since the final season of that aired, but to keep our memories fresh, Kumeta helpfully transposes over the main character in everything but name.
The anime even recasts good ol' Hiroshi Kamiya
! Jokes aside, that sense of familiarity was the first thing that jumped out at me about Kakushigoto
, and it's nice.
Oh for sure. I also have a lot of fondness for SZS
, and Kakushigoto
is definitely similar in formula. You have a neurotic dude who goes on absurdist tangents about aspects of society, and a cast of varied personalities to react to his nonsense. The biggest difference though is in tone. Like, Kakushigoto
can still sometimes be caustic or cynical, but it's a million times mellower than a lot of the most memorable ,cite>Zetsubou Sensei bits. You're not gonna see any references to the god damn Challenger disaster in this show's OP.
Lmao absolutely not. And while I don't presume to know anything about Kumeta's personal life, people in general tend to mellow out as they get older, so it's not surprising that a later manga of his would dial back the sometimes-unrestrained anarchism of his early works (exacerbated wonderfully in SZS by the folks at Shaft).
A lot can change in 10 years and a completely different adaptive staff.
in particular is very upfront about the fact that it has concerns outside of vamping on Kumeta's sharp observational comedy. And those concerns are primarily dadhood.
That's definitely the hook for the show. Come for the cute father-daughter bonding content, stay for Kōji Kumeta
roasting his own profession like he's tailgating.
It's shockingly cute! Like many people, I'd imagine, the description of the show had me worried before it started airing. Kakushi was often described as an "ecchi" artist trying to keep his work a secret from his tiny daughter, and that combined with my expectations from SZS had me bracing for the worst. But the actual show is frequently sweet and heartwarming.
It helps that "ecchi" here means less jello-boobed anime girls and more waggling dick and fart jokes. Half the joke about Kakushi's ridiculous attempts to keep Hime in the dark is that as a 10 year old kid she'd probably think his work is hilarious.
In one episode a dude even shows up to an autograph session with his 10-year-old kid, who is also a fan.
"Low-brow" would probably be the more accurate descriptor I'd use. And it really becomes less about Kakushi protecting Hime's innocence (tho there is some of that) and more about him being way too insecure about making a living as a professional dick-joke-teller.
Dude's a volatile mix of shame at making a living drawing comedic butts, and petty pride at still being able to do it, and that ends up a pretty great formula for Kumeta joking on his own career without feeling either too self-congratulatory or -flagellating.
Kumeta definitely tends to lean on the self-deprecating side of things, but I can certainly relate to that. And of course that doesn't stop him from picking on everyone else in the manga industry. Especially editors!
Disclaimer: The opinions on Editors expressed in this show do not represent the views of This Week In Anime, or our wonderful editor Lynzee who frankly lets us get away with more than is good for us.
Plus, I legitimately love Tomaruin. Out of all the characters in the show, he's the one with the most barefaced spite for Kakushi, and it makes every one of their interactions extremely funny to me.
Oh he's great to watch! But good god does he suck shit through a coffee stirrer.
Like the best enemies, though, there's some hint of love and mutual respect between him and Kakushi. I mean how else could they have invented a new way to 69?
Respect is a...strong word. It's more that both recognizes their individual pain-in-the-ass status means they're out of luck if they don't at least try to make it work.
There's lots of manga industry inside baseball to be sure, but Kakushigoto
also draws on a lot of universal artistic struggles.
This is also one of the rare situations where Tomaruin has a good idea imo. The world just isn't ready for it.
Even if you're not an artist, there's certainly something relatable to be found in Kakushi. He's a big ball of neuroses and contradictions, but aren't we all?
But the humor isn't ALL about the manga industry or culture, there's also a good amount of laughs and pathos mined from Kakushi's relationship with his daughter Hime. It's genuinely sweet to see how much work he puts into trying to be the best parent he can be for her!
Yeah this is the secret sauce that really makes Kakushigoto
stand out. Not that there haven't been good dad or dad-adjacent anime recently (Barakamon
and Sweetness & Lightning
come to mind), but Kakushigoto
's blend of Kumeta humor with sincere dad feelings works a heck of a lot better than it probably should.
It also helps that Hime is the most adorable little airhead on the planet.
I wouldn't describe Hime as a very realistic child - though she's less idealized than some Vewy Pwecious anime kids I've seen, she's still a fairly simplistic character like much of the cast. But gosh dangit if she' isn't cute.
And her childish misunderstandings and misinterpretations actually end up being another good vehicle for the show's weird brand of comedy.
Well she's not wrong.
I already argued at length for this in my review of the episode, but I believe she's onto something. Disco balls should become Christmas decorations.
But outside of comedy Hime and Goto's relationship is the rare bit of Kumeta writing that's like...sincere, and genuinely meant to be heartfelt? Especially as we learn more about the rocky relationship between Kakushi and his late wife's family.
As it turns out, a lot of his insecurities stem from the fact that he married into this well-to-do, respected family that kinda resented that their daughter fell for a guy whose book jacket portrait is this.
There's also the background info that Kakushi apparently had their old family home replicated exactly so he could keep the memories they forged there while living closer to work while taking care of Hime on his own. Weird as it is to say there's a somber undertone to this goofy show that can sneak up on you in places.
My favorite detail is that, before she passed, Hime's mother prepared sequential boxes full of gifts and lessons for her daughter, so she could continue to help raise her in some fashion even after she was gone. That goes straight for the heartstrings.
There's also a bunch of little conflicts that arise from Kakushi being a single father. In a society that expects a) conventional two-parent households and b) often looks down on men taking traditionally "maternal" roles, there's a lot of struggles that bubble up outside of his secret-keeping. The one scene that absolutely gut-punched me was when Hime admitted she planned to reject a friend's birthday party invite, because that would mean inviting people to her own party, and she didn't want to put that much more work on her dad when he's already busy with work and her as it is.
As a kid of a single-parent household, that shit hit real close to home.
It's especially powerful since, by nearly every estimation, Kakushi and Hime have a really close and wonderful relationship, so the issues that arise tend to do so because they mutually try not to put too much of a burden on each other. But they still manage to work things out by relying on each other. They're subtle conflicts, but they hold a lot of emotional weight.
Honestly this is a comparison I never thought I'd make, but it reminds me a lot of Usagi Drop
at times (no not in THAT way) in how it approaches microissues that come up from just having an atypical family structure. Like when Kakushi tries to take cooking lessons to make better meals for Hime, only to find out they don't accept single men as students because too many guys just used it to hit on women. Kakushi works it out easily enough, but it's the kind of invisible hurdle that just doesn't come up often, even if other parent-child anime, and I think that's special.
It's also cool how the absurd comedy segments tend to, in some fashion, get woven thematically into the sincere family moments later in the episode. That's a surprisingly sophisticated sense of structure, and it speaks to the level of care Kumeta applies here. Like, Kakushi's earlier griping about arbitrary celebrations gets flipped on its head when he realizes how important it is to spend as much time with your loved ones as you can. Kakushigoto really runs the full tonal gamut, but more often than not it works.
Though we're kind of dancing around the somber, melancholy elephant in the room that is the show's framing story.
While thankfully not quite as deliberately traumatizing as the epilogues to each Stars Align
sure loves to spend the last two minutes of every week reminding us that Hime is now sad and alone for some yet-undisclosed reason!
It's this ongoing tease that something
happened to Kakushi in the time between Hime being 10 and turning 17. We don't know what, and that scares me because this could either be a super sad story about a family trying to hold it together and failing, OR it's the longest windup in history for a dick joke. And knowing Kumeta I cannot for the life of me predict which one it'll be.
It legit only works as well as it does because it's Kumeta doing it, and that's just diabolical.
So basically we get to spend an entire anime season bracing for a punch to the nose or a kick to the nads. It's very stressful.
And I wouldn't have it any other way! I'm really enjoying Kumeta's refinement of his storytelling and comedic formulas, and it's nice to see him use his powers for good. Sometimes.
"For good" is a tad subjective. Some of these puns are outright criminal.
Look, you're not the one who's had to spend at least a paragraph of each episode review breaking down some of these absolutely untranslatable ones.
I knew the hell I was getting into, and yet I volunteered for it all the same.
I guess you could say...Kōji Kumeta's puns have left me in despair.