Review for Castle Town Dandelion
The creative process remains an arcane mystery to me. Pity us poor reviewers who can only criticise. We digest the hard work and inspiration of the talented and the gifted, and then excrete a few hundred words of denigration, nit-picking acceptance, or half-hearted praise on the screen, yet we have no idea of how to bring forth the essence of an idea in a way that moves or inspires others. Just how do they do it? Does it come as inspiration in the middle of the night, do they sweat for hours and hours, refining and building an idea, or do they reach into a hat, pull out three ideas, topics at random, and jam them all together to form a story. That might be what happened with Castle Town Dandelion. I get the feeling that the lucky dip was employed, with a creator pulling out, royalty, super-powers, and reality TV, and then compelled to make something of it. “Day 5 in the Big Brother Palace, and Prince Philip has cast his beam of bigotry on the footman whose skin tone is slightly off-white. Charles has levelled up his ‘When will I be king?’ powers, but they are still ineffective against the Queen’s shield of immortality. Edward has sent his equerry into the diary room...” You can see why I’m a reviewer. Let’s hope Castle Town Dandelion is better than that idiotic rambling. Actually, I can pretty much guarantee that.
Akane Sakurada is a typically shy, teenage girl. She’s fine around her family, great around her friends, but encounters with new people make her want to hide away in embarrassment, and she has a paranoid fear of CCTV cameras. Actually it’s not paranoid at all. The CCTV in her city is there for her security, and that of her family. Her father is the king, and she and her eight siblings are the princes and princesses of the realm, and because her father insists that they live a normal, everyday, suburban life (he commutes to the palace), the royal family has to be monitored at all times.
What’s worse is the succession. The next occupant of the throne won’t just be selected by heredity. There will be an election, a popularity contest to see who the next king will be out of the nine brothers and sisters. The last thing that Akane wants is to be ‘popular’, but when she is reminded that the king sets the rules, and as ruler, she can do away with CCTV, and public appearances, and popularity contests, she actually has a motive to win. On top of that, the members of the royal family all have their own respective super powers. Akane has control over gravity, although that doesn’t help her avoid the cameras...
12 episodes of Castle Town Dandelion are presented across 2 Blu-rays from All the Anime.
1. “The Sakurada Family’s Nine Siblings”
2. “Big Sister’s Good Image” & “Sato’s Unrequited Love”
3. “I Want to be Popular” & “First Friend” & “Life as an Idol”
4. “The Royal Princess’ Skirt” & “The Mysterious Student Council President”
5. “Summer Vacation” & “Online Secret” & “Eight of Misaki”
6. “The Election and Me” & “My Big Sister is Sentimental”
7. “Worrywart King” & “Secret Idol”
8. “Troubled Sato” & “The King’s Side Trip”
9. “Scarlet Bloom” & “Big Sister’s Birthday”
10. “Search Light’s Whereabouts” & “Big Brother Acting Like a Big Bro”
11. “Goodbye, Scarlet Bloom”
12. “Who Will the Crown Shine Upon”
Castle Town Dandelion gets the usual 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p presentation that is expected from modern anime TV. The image is clear and sharp, and with this being a pleasing comedy show, the colours are bright and cheerful. The character designs are likable, if generic, and the animation does what it needs to, getting the story across. There are no issues with aliasing, compression, or digital banding that I could see.
The images in this review were kindly supplied by All the Anime.
You have the choice between Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround English and 2.0 Japanese, with subtitles and signs locked to the appropriate track. I gave the dub a try and was irrationally annoyed with it. I guess its American perkiness caught me on the wrong day. I found the Japanese preferable, even though the stock character voice archetypes are all present and correct. The music is quite nice, and suits the show well. The subtitles are timed accurately and are free of typos.
The discs present their content with static menus, and a bit of an imbalanced episode distribution there, even for a dual and single layer combination.
Disc 1 autoplays with a trailer for Fairy Tail Part 21.
There is an audio commentary on episode 3 from Bryn Apprill (Akane), Sarah Wiedenheft (Hikari), Kristin Sutton (Shiori), and Jeannie Tirado (Teru).
Disc 2 autoplays with a trailer for Summer Wars.
You get a commentary on episode 12 with Ricco Fajardo (Shu), Michelle Rojas (Kanade), and Tia Ballard (Aoi).
The textless credits are also on this disc, as well as trailers for Psychic School Wars, Snow White with the Red Hair, Jinsei Life Consulting, Assassination Classroom Season 1 Part 2, Laughing Under the Clouds, and Ultimate Otaku Teacher.
Castle Town Dandelion is, let’s face it, another in a constant stream of likeable, disposable, and forgettable anime comedies, with similar situations, similar character types, and a similar sense of humour. But Castle Town Dandelion is surprisingly good given the over-populated genre that it inhabits. It’s a likeable show, aimed at broad audiences, not self-limiting by ill-placed fan service, and it’s got something of a pro-active message to it. Above all, it’s funny, it’s entertaining, and you will probably care about the characters by the time it ends. It really only has two problems. One is that it’s a little too bland to really make an impact, and the second is that it feels too short to tell its story, rushing to get things sorted by the end of its twelve episode run.
Castle Town Dandelion is Fruits Basket. You have a family of siblings, all with surprising abilities, and the burdens and privileges of their particular clan. They all have to work through their particular issues during the series, and wind up as better people as a result. Of course, in Castle Town Dandelion, this particular family are privileged indeed, princes and princesses of the realm, and their powers aren’t exactly the curses that the Sohma family of Fruits Basket had to deal with. As a result, the story lacks the edge and the angst of Fruits Basket. There’s little need for romance either, as the Sakuradas don’t need a little orphan Annie character to show up and solve all their problems.
You have your super-powered family, compelled to take part in an election, a popularity contest to see who will become heir to the throne, and it all plays out on TV, which thanks to the security cameras dotted all over the place, makes it something of a reality TV show. The story follows the siblings over the space of a year, focusing on Akane, who can control gravity, but can’t control her shy embarrassment when it comes to dealing with the public. We follow her over the twelve episodes as she works to overcome her issues.
Eldest sister Aoi always tops the popularity polls, but her journey over the series is one of self-discovery, finding out whether she actually wants to succeed their father. The first set of twins, Kanade and Shu actually do carry the show’s angst and romance. Kanade can create anything she wants, in exchange for depleting her bank balance, and her desire to win is connected to making amends for a mistake she made as a child. Shu (teleporter) on the other hand isn’t quite committed to the idea of being king, but he has got a loyal supporter in school friend Hana Sato, only Hana’s feelings for Shu run a lot deeper.
The next set of twins is Misaki and Haruka. Haruka’s got things sorted in his mind. Able to instantly see the probabilities, he’s settled for supporting his twin. Misaki on the other hand has an inferiority complex about being normal compared to the rest of her family. Her mundane nature is magnified by her ability. She can subdivide into clones, all of whom have a more striking personality than her. Another sister named Hikari has the ability to alter the age of anything or anyone, and she too wants to be popular, only her journey makes her realise that what she wants to be popular for isn’t necessarily the same as her siblings.
Finally there is young Teru, who has super strength, but is too young to really figure out what being king is all about, and he equates it to being a hero, and the youngest sibling is sister Shiori, who can understand the words of anything, be it alive or an inanimate object,
Castle Town Dandelion is fun to watch, you can engage with the characters as they develop over the series, learn more about themselves, and figure out how they fit into the world, what they can offer as ‘king’ or why they might be unsuited. After all, Akane’s initial ambition is to become king, remove all the security cameras, and stay out of the limelight ever after. It’s not all that useful in a monarch, but given the number of times her panties get flashed (for other people in the show, not visible for fan service), you can understand why. One of the episodes follows her the day she forgets to wear her skirt at school; it’s that kind of humour. Hikari’s plot arc follows her as she decides to become a pop idol to increase her popularity, only she decides to do it in older version incognito. We meet the ‘embarrassed’ Akane fan club, we see the unique holiday that the royals have to take, the King overdoes the security, Akane becomes an honest to goodness superhero and so on and so forth. The episodes usually split into halves for different storylines, or in a couple of instances thirds, but the short comedic nature of them makes this an easy show to dip in and out of.
Castle Town Dandelion is one of the better shows of its ilk, entertaining and inoffensive, but the shame is that it’s not the most memorable. It’s been and gone before the characters really have a chance to register and grow on you, and it would have worked much better as a 24 episode run, with more breathing space for character development.