Joukamachi no Dandelion – 07

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It’s a strict two-parter this week, with stories so different, the siblings at the focus of the first half barely appear in the second. First, Akane has a fever and the King and Queen are going out, leaving Kanade in charge. (Where’s Aoi? Who knows?) When cold compresses and porridge can’t get Akane’s temperature down (and dare not use her powers to conjure the undiscovered cure), Shiori risks catching Akane’s cold by giving her a kiss. The King is also a bit of a worrywart, and so kept a team of special forces on alert. Their accidental storming of the house is nicely handled by Kanade, and Akane and Shiori aren’t the worse for wear.

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The second half is dominated by Hikari, whom I’m on record as not being the biggest fan of because I’m not the biggest fan of Ogura Yui’s squeaky voice. Fortunately, Hikari is aged up to idol-age, and her conflict arises when she’s paired with the super hard-working, no-nonsense veteran idol she admires, Sachiko, who resents Hikari for being talented but sloppy. When Sacchy is asked to play second fiddle in a double concert, she’s a pro about it, but she won’t acknowledge Hikari until she shows she can work hard too.

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Sacchy not only inspires Hikari to ace a test in school after failing a previous one, but to also train harder in preparation for the concert. When it arrives, the two perform well, but Sacchy meets with a spot of bad luck and twists her ankle on stage. Hikari goes out there alone and finishes the show, with Sacchy watching from the dressing room, impressed and realizing she misjudged Hikari. In all, the segment is an interesting study of the different worlds Hikari can inhabit when she ages herself up.

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Joukamachi no Dandelion – 06

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J-Dan has become a surprisingly rich and complex tapestry of sibling dynamics, not hesitating to jump back in time to show us how they struggled with their powers in one way or another while making their place in the world, and how they continue to work hard and grow as they compete for the Kingship. It’s a big family but the show has proven surprisingly deft at juggling them, even as it tends to play favorites (i.e. Akane).

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I for one was greatly entertained by the unveiling of Misaki and her seven deadly clones, so I was happy to see them back this week, especially since this “Misaki Summit” is really just Misaki herself going over something in her own head; only the individual emotional parts of her head are manifested as physical clones.

It’s a weighty metaphysical concept made incredibly simple and easy to digest, as Misaki laments all her siblings campaigning so hard for themselves while she puts “country first.” But with some well-timed advice from Haruka, she realizes her position is just another kind of selfishness. Anyone who runs for King must be a little selfish, after all.

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What’s cuter than Akane? LIL’ AKANE. Just look at that mischievous little squirt! We see her in one of the episode’s many flashbacks, as Kanade takes her out to the park to play even though Shuu warned them not to. Kanade tries to keep Akane on her side by conjuring up that hero outfit for her, followed by a giant castle, but it materializes incompletely because she’s run out of funds.

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When she tries to force-conjure a staircase, the columns holding the castle up disappear. Shuu pushes Akane to safety, but his legs are crushed by the rubble, and right up to the present, he can’t participate in strenuous sports, even though he dreamed of becoming a soccer star. It’s a pretty dark and intense memory Kanade bears every day, and while none of her siblings are sure why she wants to be King, we learn why here: she’ll do everything in her power to help Shuu fully recover.

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Kanade’s determination to win makes her frustrated with her near-perfect older sister Aoi, who seems to achieve or gain everything so easily while Kanade must pay, either in hard lessons like Shuu or currency. But Aoi has her story to tell as well, and it’s just as dark and brooding.

As it turns out, Aoi has a power beyond simply remembering everything she studies and everyone she meets: she can also, if she chooses, make someone do whatever she wants, no matter how ridiculous. When she first gained the power, she used it inadvertently, but gradually figured out she was manipulating people.

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Even though she learned not to carelessly issue direct commands to people, a part of her still felt she gained her three friends by “cheating” with that power. But when in the present the three say “no” to her offer to buy them tea for helping her hang posters, they qualify it by saying they’ll share the bill.

Before her powers fully manifested, she had to go out on a limb and ask them to be her friends, and they agreed of their own free will, just as they continue to want to be her friends because that’s what they are, not because they have to.

And who is it who makes this observation that sets Aoi’s mind at ease, and possibly opens the way for Aoi to consider running more seriously for King despite her secret power? Akane, of course.

She may be painfully shy, but she can also be mighty perceptive and supportive to those she cares about. She, and all the other siblings in this show, have most definitely made me care about them.

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Joukamachi no Dandelion – 05

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Despite having seen many good beach episodes, I always go into them with low expectations, but the multi-faceted, rapid-fire, detail-oriented nature of Dandelion is such that not only did the beach part only take up about a third of the total episode, but it was quite a novel and imaginative third at that.

Not only do we get Shiori communing with a very noble and dramatic watermelon (whom she digs a grave for after he’s split and eaten), but Akane, so happy that she’s free from the peering eyes of the public, discovers that the beach they’re at is really a Truman Show-style construct sans-cameras, which the siblings proceed to accidentally knock over, resulting in en even more embarrassing situation than had they actually gone to a real beach!

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The watermelon splitting is our way into the second son Haruka’s perspective; his power is to calculate probabilities, and prides himself on his accuracy. He was suprised Shiori had an 80% chance to win the watermelon splitting, but rooted for her nonetheless. In the next segment Akane barges into his room and catches him looking at pictures of her in her bikini on the web.

Naturally, Akane suspects Haruka has a thing for her, but it’s not that; he’s merely reporting inappropriate photos for deletion to keep things from getting out of hand. It’s a service he provides his big sister (who wasn’t even aware of the fansites) out of an awareness of her sensitivity and a desire to help her where he can. Still, to my delight, Haruka points out the obvious: Akane would get into less trouble if she stopped jumping around in a little skirt.

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The third and final segment focuses on Haruka’s slightly older sister, Misaki, who like him, we hadn’t yet gotten a profile of. The episode reminds us she can create seven clones of herself, each of which has their own special talents, hairstyle, eye color, and personality. They also each represent the seven deadly sins, sorta Fullmetal Alchemist-style.

Thanks to the clones, Misaki can participate—and excel—in seven different clubs at once, while she, the original, gets all the second-hand praise and is lauded for being a good “manager.” On top of already being often overlooked due to her also-talented and beautiful older sisters, Misaki comes to feel like she’s useless.

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When venting to Haruka doesn’t work, she summons her clones and vents to them. They all react in their typical ways (including one who always wanders off to eat something, one who’s always pawing the nearest guy, and one who’s always asleep), but the general consensus is she is being silly. They’re her clones; they are her and she is them. For all her fears she’s too “normal”, the fact remains she can summon those amazing parts of her whole; nothing normal about that.

Finally, Haruka admits he likes how Misaki is normal; she’s a calming, grounding presence and he’d be troubled if she arbitrarily tried to change. Thus the venting-turned-sulking-turned-cheering up session is a success. So was this episode; it was surprisingly chock-full of stuff, much of it creative and hilarious.

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