Kakushigoto – Anime Review
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Synopsis: Single father Kakushi Goto has a secret. He’s a top-selling artist of popular erotic manga, but his impressionable young daughter, Hime, can never find out! Now he’s having to bend over backwards just to keep her inquisitive little mind from discovering what he does for a living. A father-daughter tale of love and laughter. (Official Funimation Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Kakushigoto is a rarity among anime comedy in the way that it stands out by successfully mixing its absurd comedy antics with a soft through-line of melancholic drama. At first glance the series is a balls to the wall absurd comedy, but there’s always a slight hint, or say a vein of sombreness and tenderness running through, which is gradually built upon to become the major thrust to the series’ conclusion. While one could argue that its comedy, as well as its more tragic side, have been done better by other shows, it’s how Kakushigoto melds these opposing aspects so successfully and with such frequency that really makes it shine, having you laugh and cry in equal measure.
Tom: The series accomplishes this melding with a series of flash forwards sprinkled throughout the 12-episode run. These brief glimpses help lend a melancholic air to the rest of the series, particularly whenever Kakushi has an epiphany about his daughter, Hime. In truth though, even with how successfully these two wildly different tones are merged, comedy is what you’re going to be tuning in for. Viewers might be a tad worried that Kakushigoto is ultimately one-note. The entire thrust of the series is built upon Kakushi’s efforts to hide his occupation as a dirty-gag manga author. That said, this anime knows how to mix things up. While yes, most every plot line is somehow tied to hiding Kakushi’s occupation from Hime, or Kakushi’s efforts to spoil her, the real variety comes in the way of Kakushigoto’s excellent use of the supporting cast. The series is brimming with additional characters from the get go. Kakushi’s manga assistants, his troublesome editor, Hime’s teacher, her friends, and a gaggle of women Kakushi accidentally seduces while on his quest to be a better father. It’s these additional cast members that keep the story lively and fresh. Yes, the central gag is always Kakushi’s foolish fears of what Hime might think should she learn what he does for a living, but such a wide range of characters allows for each story to have enough unique comedy, keeping the gags fresh every week.
Linny: At the heart of it all, Kakushigoto is truly about a neurotic, paranoid father who is doing his best to protect his daughter from things that he feels could ruin her happiness, even though some of the things he worries about are completely absurd and outright illogical. But it is his wholehearted sincerity and love for his daughter that comes through and gives the show a heartwarming tone that’s sure to win audiences over. Yes, his fears are nonsensical and over the top for the sake of comedy, yet the show still succeeds in selling his affection and devotion for/to his daughter. The absurdity helps the show to keep introducing new avenues and levels of humour while the heartfelt parts keep the viewers invested and engaged on a deeper level.
Tom: While Kakushigoto never truly manages to feel stale, it’s also so single-minded in its endeavor that it’s still bound to turn some away. If you’re the kind of fan who’s looking for a wide cast of characters to connect with, to find side characters to love and root for, understand that Kakushigoto doesn’t provide that. The show is so set on Kakushi’s efforts with Hime that the side characters remain, well, side characters. Sure, our side characters have wildly different personalities, and bring extra comedy to the table, but they never get the spotlight, not unless what they’re up to is going to have a direct impact on Kakushi’s own struggle. This makes it difficult to fall in love with any of the characters outside of Kakushi or Hime. So then if you’re not entirely sold on Kakushi’s struggle, and you’re hoping to then supplement that by getting attached to any of the manga assistants and hope there might be a few stories focused on their own efforts or struggles, you’re going to come away disappointed.
Linny: Kakushigoto’s flaws are easy to ignore however, in part simply due to how enthralling the production is. Everything is bolstered by a fantastic soundtrack and an enthralling visual style. The songs used in the OP and ED, along with the imagery employed for them, really evoke the bittersweet tone running through the series. Even when the execution of some of the more serious elements falls short, it’s hard to deny that the aura of the ending credits will still tug at your heart strings. It further solidifies that some real care and heart has gone into the anime adaptation with how well tailored and fitting even the credits themselves are.
Tom: The presentation of Kakushigoto really is doing a lot of heavy lifting, particularly as we reach conclusion. The series teases more saddening elements throughout, like the loss of Hime’s mother, her crafting boxes to provide clothes, tools or toys for her daughter long after she’s gone, etc. Even the flash forwards build up this sense of immense sadness hiding just around the corner. While the series largely delivers a conclusion that tugs at the heartstrings and gives emotional weight to an otherwise comedic series, it’s not without its flaws. Once the truth of all the show’s mysteries are revealed certain elements don’t make nearly as much sense, and beg additional questions the show offers not one answer for. It’s in this way that Kakushigoto might have become an outright disappointment, but sidesteps the frustration of lingering questions by the simple value of having such a well realized, heartfelt conclusion otherwise.
Linny: It is true that even with as much praise as we have showered on Kakushigoto, that isn’t to say it is flawless. I really want to echo Tom’s mention of the finale’s missteps. As the series wraps up, things start to feel rushed and cramped. In particular the series’ finale feels like the show’s weakest episode because it packs in reveals, twists, and turns at a blinding pace, denying any of them the time to breathe and chance to leave an impact. While the show never was the most serious, it clearly is trying to pack in some mega twists for either greater emotional impact, or for comedy’s sake. But because we breeze through them all in but a single episode, they are never given the chance to linger or land. Even the full reveal of Goto’s tragic life, both present and past, is crammed in this one episode. Yet despite how much they’ve managed to cram into this final episode, there’s still some major plot holes and questions left unanswered, as Tom mentioned. Some viewers may find all this but a minor quibble, but it is definitely worth mentioning for anyone expecting a thorough and in depth exploration of teased mystery and tragedy. There’s also the fact that the show openly acknowledges how cliche its ending is, with Goto’s editor decrying events mid-episode, yet does little to remedy that or turn it into a more intelligent joke. Despite all this, Kakushigoto generally remains one of the best shows to try for those seeking comedy with heart. Its amalgamation of jokes and tear jerking moments is undeniably unique and sure to leave an impression on most viewers.
Tom: This season has been rough. With so many cancelled and delayed anime viewers weren’t left with much. But Kakushigoto, despite its last minute missteps, remains a beckon of light in an otherwise dim season. It may feel like faint praise, but it does stand as Spring’s best offering. If you like the sound of Kakushigoto’s premise, and don’t mind that none of the supporting characters will ever truly get focus, it really is a fantastic comedy bolstered by how successful it is at building toward a melancholic finale. It’s one of the rare anime comedies that is not only funny, but does so with heart. Even if you decide to skip over the rest of the Spring season, don’t miss out on Kakushigoto, because it’s the perfect kind of show to distract yourself with when life still isn’t quite back to normal just yet.
Kakushigoto is available for streaming via Funimation.com