Episode 9 of me and Irina’s collab reviews on DAKAICHI, I’m represented by the bold text while Irina (from I Drink And Watch Anime) is not in bold.
Well thankfully last weeks ~unpleasantness~ (namely poor animation/art, a pointless story and padding for time) seemed to have been a fluke as the quality we’ve come to expect from this show returns. Though that makes last week’s flaws even more glaring by comparison… There was still a few hiccups. The flashback scene with Chunta pinning Takato against a wall zoomed out and all the crew looked like half formed blobs, but it was still night and day, I’ll give you that. I don’t think Dakaichi has a phenomenal animation budget but last week showed us that it could have been much MUCH worse…
So this episode has quite the fractured timeline, jumping from Takato’s birth (where the nurses where all swooning over how cute of a baby he was) then running through his childhood years in a hot-minute before introducing a very important woman in his life, his grandmother–an acting legend who happens to bare a striking resemblance to current-day Takato. You’re touching on a few points here. I enjoy non linear storytelling A LOT, but I do think this episode lacked a bit of focus. Or rather the pacing was off. Some scenes went off for too long while other moments were breezed over. Takato and his grandmother being good example. I think they could have shortened the actual play and spent a little more time with young Takato and his grandma to really make us feel their relationship.
Minor squabble aside, I really did enjoy the idea that Takato’s inspiration and probably ultimate rival is his Grandma. Too often these women are relegated in service role, only there to bring comfort to the characters. To have one as a fully realized independent character was awesome and to see and grandma, grandson relationship as a driving force is unusual and very interesting to me. He fact is, the character could have existed and been just as relevant without being Takato’s grandmother, simply a mentor, but the relationship makes it that much more interesting.
It was interesting to see ‘Takato–the early years’, and at first I was worrying “what’s the point of this, how’s this going to tie into the current narrative!” but I shouldn’t have been so dismissive as it turns out, but we’ll touch on that more later. The vain, insecure and petty side of Takato is one of my favourite things about him. It was great to see that he was always that way. Fame intensified it but it’s part of who he is. I liked that.
We get to see some of the events of the excellent Episode 7 but from Takato’s perspective, the scene where he first met Junta and was eyeing him up his “stats” like ‘The Terminator’ was great! Rashōmon! Events retold from different perspectives is one of my all time favourite narrative ploys. I always love when it gets used (go see the fantastic Jet Li movie ‘Hero’ if you haven’t), and this was no exception. In fact, I would have dedicated an entire episode to it. As it was, I did really like how narcissistic Takato is. The same story was so much more introverted when he tells it. He was the star of Chunta’s recollection and he still is the star of his own. Love that guy!
I’m glad we got to see a fair chunk of the stage show and that it’s seemingly a very extravagant production what with all the back projection stage graphics. It seemed like an interesting show but more than that the little bits of Takato’s inner monologue as he’s thinking about Junta were a great touch. I’m divided. I did like seeing it a lot but as I mentioned above, I think it went on a bit to long. There are other threads in this episode tat i would have liked to see go on for longer instead.
And then we get the ~revelation~ (at least from Takato’s perspective) that Junta was the one who carried him to hospital when he was sick, and then the revelation to us the audience that Takato’s kind of been in love with him since the beginning(?) that was the impression I got from those scattered bunch of scenes. I’m not sure about love, but the connection runs deeper that first expected. Takato is a proud guy and a classic tsundere so being in a way indebted to Chunta changes a lot.
I didn’t think we’d need more characterisation for Takato, like I’m fairly sure both of us were pretty much fully on-side with Takato but somehow this episode made me like him (and also them as a couple) even more than before. The strongest parts by far was when the two were together and for that I have to give kudos to the series. It made their relationship seem tangible and comforting. I really didn’t expect that from the two first episodes.
Overall I’m not sure I liked it quite as much as Episode 7 but it was pretty close! I like how narratively tight it was, despite seeming disjointed at least in terms of cutting back and forth between different time periods. In clumsier hands this could have been a confusing episode but I feel like the pulled it off with a deft hand. Not only that there were even a couple of moments that brought a tear to his eye, like when Takato finishes his opening night performance and he sees a fleeting image of his deceased Grandmother in the crowd. I know I liked episode 7 better. I still like this one but 7 was just fantastic. To me this episode was good, with a lot of nice touches but there was something a bit off in the pacing. The end however was so sweet it made up for any hitches.
What about you Irina, anything else you wanted to add? The next episode preview hinted at a possible breakup and I hurt my eyes rolling them…. I don’t know if you play a lot of dating sims, the contrived uber dramatic breakup is sort of an otome trope and I pretty much always hate it. I’m weary….. the classic “third act break-up” hopefully it’ll have a purpose and not just be pointless drama—only time will tell!
Thanks for reading and make sure to catch next episode’s review on Irina’s site!
Previous DAKAICHI Reviews:
Cute Boys Doing Each Other – Episode 1 Review
Matt and Irina Stare At Pretty Men – Episode 2 Review
Attack On Tight Man – Episode 3 Review
Where’s The Manservice? – Episode 4 Review
When In Doubt, Add More Hot Boys – Episode 5 Review
All’s Well That Ends Well – Episode 6 Review
Setting The Scene – Episode 7 Review
Intermission – Episode 8 Review
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