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Anime Review: Castle Town Dandelion

By Drew Hurley 17.12.2017

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Castle Town Dandelion (UK Rating: 12)

The majority of anime series draw from various source materials rather than telling original stories - mostly manga, games, and light novels. There is a sub-genre of the manga-based adaptations, though; series based on the short strip "4Koma" manga. These are much like the comics found in newspapers in the West. Short four-panel comedy stories with a simple setup and gag. Most famously in this genre are the likes of Azumanga Daioh, Working!, Lucky Star!, and Monthly Girls' Nozaki-Kun. Castle Town Dandelion is set around nine super-powered children of the Sakurada royal family who are sent to live in a regular Japanese town on constant surveillance, with the populous voting on which should ascend to the throne of their father. This 12 episode series is available now, courtesy of Anime Limited.

The 4-Koma series has been running for five years in Japan and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon, making this adaptation fairly inevitable. The story follows each of the children of the Sakurada family, with each trying to gain popularity from the people and push their claim to the throne. One particular member of the family acts as the protagonist of this tale. At the heart of each episode is the third daughter of the Sakurada family, a particularly shy, young red-head named Akane, a girl who hates being the centre of attention. A challenging issue to deal with being royalty, especially when the small town they moved to has been outfitted with 2,000 cameras. Tracking the children at all times and broadcasting to the people, this footage can then be used for the decision-making on voting.

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Each of the siblings has special powers. Akane's power allows her to alter the weight of herself and everything she touches; she usually uses it to be able to move at extreme speeds or even to fly, although her shy nature means that flying overhead while rocking her signature miniskirt often results in her left mortified. The other powers include the familiar, like telepathy, speaking with animals, or the ability to create clones, but also rarer abilities, like one daughter has the ability to materialise anything she can think of… with the slight downside that the cost of the items comes directly out of her bank balance.

The problem with these types of adaptations is often that the source material relies on a joke every four panels, which means that the anime often gets rather tedious with the onslaught of non-stop gags. This is one of the biggest issues with Castle Town Dandelion; there are so many fast jokes assaulting the viewer that very few actually hit. They instead work best when they are a punctuation for a situation, instead of the rapid-fire the series often relies on.


 
The show does try to address this issue by focusing the stories on the supporting cast of siblings. While Akane is the focus of more episodes than not, the rest of the siblings have plenty of time to shine, with episodes dedicated to each of them. Each child has its own issues and anxieties that they struggle with and it's these personal stories that make the show so much better. While the show is mostly made up of standalone episodes highlighting the daily lives of each of the children, there is the story of the election constantly running through the backdrop, with the final episode giving a result and a new monarch on the throne.

On the bonus feature front, there are the usual trailers and clean opening/closing videos. There is also both an English and Japanese dub for this release, with the English dub hosting plenty of popular current VAs like Tia Ballard, Josh Grelle, and Bryn Appril. These actors are on hand to provide another little bonus feature, too, delivering two-episode commentary tracks.

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

A simple little comedy show that's quite enjoyable, Castle Town Dandelion has some funny moments and some heart-warming little stories of family here. However, because of its 4Koma roots, it feels like it's missing something. Perhaps it would have been better as a short form anime series, with 15-minute episodes to better translate the simple setup/punch line.

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