[Review] Deaimon: Recipe for Happiness

Leaving your hometown and exploring a new world, be that in the city or country, a neighboring state or a whole different nation with its own language, can be life changing. Beliefs are challenged and even changed for something wholly different, and we can end up feeling like completely different people. I strongly relate with this given my flight from home almost a decade ago, and encourage others to do the same whether or not they feel they need it because of the personal confrontation that ensues from such a drastic shift in perspective.

What does that have to do with Deaimon? Admittedly not much for the vast majority of the setting, since we spend most of our time in the same Kyoto hometown; however, the implications are there with our main character and those who surround him. As much as this anime fits into the healing nook of series, it also questions the necessity of independence and the possible consequences that follow.

There are plenty of healing anime out there, comedy or drama or commonly some mixture of both. Deaimon starts out introducing us to Nagomu Irino and his decision to return to his hometown. There’s some tension there in the misunderstanding that arises between himself and his girlfriend, as well as his own mistaken reading of the family letter that starts him on this journey. Itsuka’s character adds to the story’s drama with her own backstory and continuing absence of her parents. Each on their own, the two of them seek a path forward with Ryokushou.

The everyday routines and lessons learned lend that healing quality while still inserting plenty of comedic relief to assist in the continuation of earlier conflicts. A big theme in this show is the idea of family: the definitions, responsibilities, and exceptions. Strictly speaking, a family is blood bound, with bonds that seem unbreakable and immediately intimate. Yet Itsuka is a prime examples counter to this definition. Not only is she abandoned by her father into Ryokushou’s care, but she later chooses to stay separated from her mother to continue her life in Japan with her chosen family. In turn, the Irino family has fully embraced her as their child and successor to their business, a role formerly held by Nagomu. His return initially raised concerns about rivalry, but these were almost immediately laid to rest with his affections for Itsuka and continued lack of confidence in his own abilities. While the role of parenthood between Nagomu and Itsuka is repeatedly joked about, there’s a real trust that grows between them that strongly represents something similar to what a biological father and daughter might feel.

Words cannot adequately describe how thankful I am that this story avoided any idea of a relationship other than parent and child between the two of them (looking at you, Usagi Drop). As someone with my own experience of adoption by my step father, I recognize Itsuka’s wariness, the fears she still holds and her hesitation to bond with Nagomu. While she may seem just fine living this new reality with the Irino family, we repeatedly see just how mentally affected she is by her father’s abandonment.

This is where I feel the most disappointment with Deaimon. Almost everything else is enjoyable—Nagoumu’s daily interactions with his family, friends, customers, and even his ex-girlfriend, the featured sweets and their seasonal meanings, each individual character’s backstory and motivations, and Itsuka’s resolve to continue with Ryokushou. What I cannot excuse is the lack of closure with her biological father, particularly because he is shown yet again in the final episode. I can understand writing in realities like hopeless relationships, but what I cannot condone is slapping it in the ending for no good reason other then as a slap to our faces of just how terrible a father this guy is. It ruins the warmth built up to that point and I walked away just feeling bad for Itsuka rather than hopeful.

A part of me wonders if this twist is intentional to the messaging of this story. Multiple characters, including Nagomu, Mitsuru, and Itsuka’s father, exhibited a desire to change. In Nagomu’s case, he left behind the family business to chase his musician dreams in the city. This isn’t really shown as positive or negative outside of his family’s judgement of this decision. Obviously his father disapproves since he loses his heir to Ryokushou. It doesn’t appear that Nagomu changes much despite the move; who we see at the start looks pretty much the same as who we see at the end. Mitsuru has a bit more of a positive message in her arc. Her opening up about her musical passions outside of familial responsibility isn’t only welcomed, but even applauded. Her pent-up frustrations gone, she actually appears a happier person afterward.

But then there’s Itsuka’s father, who I’m sure we’ve all come to understand to be the same person as Nagomu’s friend who encouraged him to play the guitar and make his journey. Almost every result we’ve seen of his choices to chase his dreams is negative: his break with his wife and the abandonment of his child. In this case, lessons are not learned from mistakes, and we see zero character development. Coupled with his reappearance at the very end, I felt far less healed than I had hoped for and more sad at reality.

Deaimon offered us a wonderful blend of warmth and frustrated tears, and I genuinely wish it could have continued into another 12 episodes to fully flesh out characters and bring a fuller sense of completion. I would have loved to see Nagomu gain some self-confidence in his confectionary insight and capabilities, as well as a confrontation of Itsuka’s dad to help free her of confusion and regret. The lack of follow through is what prevents this show from being truly great, but if a sequel is announced there is no question that I’ll be there to look for more healing.

Rating: 1 dango


*Rating system:

  • 0 dango – average and forgettable.
  • 1 dango – very good in its category.
  • 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
  • 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.

4 thoughts on “[Review] Deaimon: Recipe for Happiness

  1. Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of really good things about this anime, I really need to try it! It’s kind of a shame about the dead beat dad showing up at the ending, and a little odd that it wasn’t written as a closure story arc. Maybe a second season will fix it? Thanks for the review, I’m definitely going to try this one out!

    Liked by 2 people

    • A second season would be so fantastic to follow through on all the relationships in this show! I’m really glad you liked the review and I hope you end up enjoying the anime even more 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not really surprised, nor disappointed, that Itsuka’s father didn’t get any sort of closure or redemption in the time frame of the show. Maybe that’s what we usually expect, but I think a lot of it comes down to that “show your work” ethic, and in the glimpses we saw of him, he really hadn’t done anything to warrant a happy reunion with Itsuka, no matter how much she’d be willing to give him one. I think it would have been even quite a bit more tonally jarring than her reunion with her mother, who Itsuka was quite wary of. It would have likely been much happiness, and very little reckoning with the hurt he visited on many people and the abandonment of his responsibilities, for his own personal goals.

    I think your feeling of sadness fits the intent of the show. Thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re very welcome! And to clarify, I don’t think I really expected redemption so much as for Itsuka to get a clean break because as it is she’s always going to look over her shoulder, always wonder “what if”, and I so want her to move on. But perhaps they had that intention with that scene where she talks with Nagomu about feeling safe with his family.

      Like

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