Poco’s Udon World – Review
Poco’s Udon World:
Original Air Dates: October 8th, 2016 – December 24th, 2016
Synopsis: Souta Tawara is on a visit to his hometown after his father passed away. He visits his father’s now run down noodle shop and home, only to discover that a strange child has taken up residence. While dealing with this cute little kid, Souta finds himself under pressure from multiple sources to take up his father’s mantle. But things take a surprising turn as Souta discovers that the little boy is actually a Tanuki in disguise.
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Poco’s Udon World is slow. There’s no beating around the bush. It takes halfway through the series before any truly meaningful developments begin to take shape and it’s not until the back half when characters really start to develop and grow as individuals. In fact, I might even go so far as to say the first half of the series is very close to outright forgettable.
Linny: As someone who will openly admit that I have a biased weakness for these kind of shows that feature the odd duo of cute kid and clueless adult, even I have to admit that this show is slow and wanders around a lot in the first half. If you are like me, this isn’t necessarily a minus as it leads to some adorable kid moments, but for anyone else it can be an exercise in frustration. The English title of the show is also rather misleading, making it sound like Udon is going to be a central theme and while a udon restaurant does play a role in the story, it’s definitely nowhere as heavily prominent as the title suggests. If you were hoping for this to be some sort of udon appreciation anime, with lots of shots of udon preparation and enticing dishes, you will be disappointed. This show is all about Souta’s journey of self discovery and udon is but a minor part of that journey.
Tom: Poco’s Udon World tries on quite a few occasions to be funny and charming, hardly succeeding at the later. The big draw is its cute, charming heart warming style, for which your mileage will vary depending on how engrossed by these types of stories you are. As someone less enamored with the story of a clueless man bonding with a hyper child, Poco’s Udon World’s more advertisement oriented aspects really grated on me. The after credits Gao Gao-chan nonsense constantly ate away at my enjoyment. It tries to be absurd and perhaps offer a parody of children’s entertainment, but rarely goes far enough, instead becoming exactly what it set out to parody. If children’s cartoon style entertainment isn’t your thing, I’d suggest tuning out before it and the advertisements at the end of every episode appear.
Linny: Once the credits end, and we get to the next episode previews, it becomes painfully obvious that the show is product placement material. While some episodes make it less obvious, there are also some that feature actual dialogue praising the skills and handicrafts produced in the real life location the show is set in. Udon World doesn’t exactly try to hide its attempts to promote the prefecture it features so if you’d prefer your shows ad free, just skip anything after the Gaogao-chan bits.
Tom: Souta, our lead, is a bit generic, struggling with all the classic troubles leads like this suffer from, few feeling uniquely his own. It’s a big issue Poco has, rarely using its unique elements to their fullest. Again it’s only in the back half that Souta’s interest and work as a web designer offers a significant affect on the plot. The same can be said about Poco himself, whose transforming abilities and need to keep his true identity a secret only really come into effect in the last fourth of the series, with a smattering of very brief mentions/events early on. It sometimes feels like these more unique elements might as well not exist, since they get such little play.
Linny: Poco is undoubtedly the star of the show. His voice actor does a good job of making him sound even more adorable and adds to his charm as a toddler still in the process of mastering conversation and speech. If you are a sucker for that kind of character, he will melt your heart. For a pseudo slice of life, the characters feel a lot more fictional and unreal when compared to others in a similar vein such as Barakamon or Sweetness and Lightning. The side characters are a prime example. A monk who randomly turns out to be a part-time DJ who does gigs for a children’s show. And a co-worker who seems super obsessed with Souta to the point where he almost comes off possessive and creepy. Almost everyone is always super nice to Souta, ensuring that the sudden appearance of a child in his life goes a lot more smoothly and easily accepted than one would expect otherwise. The show also tries super hard to let us know that even though Souta thinks he is a jerk for deserting the family business, he is actually a really, really, really nice guy to the point where it feels like that information is being shoved down your throat repeatedly.
Tom: I actually disagree with Linny that the side characters offered here are all that eccentric. Maybe they have an extra quirk or two, but their portrayal is often so subdued, so down to earth otherwise that I struggle to recall much about any of them. Some evolve a bit over the series, going through their own character arc/crisis, but it all feels so mundane compared to other anime in this form.
Linny: While I enjoyed most of the show, I wasn’t personally impressed by it. It happened to be exactly the type of show I love to sit through to unwind, one that contains shots of cuteness and heartwarming kid-adult bonding moments but I admit it won’t leave a lasting impression. This whole premise has been done much better by shows before but if you are like me and this premise is one of your ultimate weaknesses, Poco’s Udon World is still fun to sit through, That said, if you aren’t a fan, there are better ways to experience this premise.
Tom: Poco’s Udon World offers up an anime only ending, attempting to wrap the series up in a neat little package, even if the manga is still ongoing. Sadly the anime only ending raises more questions than it successfully answers, never quite feeling like the series’ proper conclusion. But sadly, for anyone entirely enthralled with what Poco offers, the manga remains unlocalized, making it exceedingly difficult for fans to continue with these characters. As someone less enthused with the series, but aware the anime only ending doesn’t quite feel like the right cap off, almost seemingly contracting the series overall message, it marks a modest end point for me. And I feel little disappointment that I can’t continue my journey with Souta and Poco.
Poco’s Udon World is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com