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
- 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.