"We will open the curtain back in time, to the story of one lone manga creator." This story is about Gotou Kakushi, an artist who draws a somewhat vulgar manga, and tries to hide it for the sake of his daughter, Hime. A father-daughter tale of love and laughter. (Source: MU, edited)
Kakushigoto has no business being as good as it is, given the premise: A single dad who draws crude, adult-oriented manga for a living has made it his life’s mission to prevent his daughter from ever learning the truth about his career. Thankfully, the story seems to avoid the skeevier elements that could have very easily cropped up based on this premise, but the crew at Ajia-do Animation Works also elevates what could have been a simple episodic farce into something more special by producing the ever-loving bejeezus out of this thing. We’re talking lush, almost painterly colors; dynamic and kinetic shot composition; snappy editing — when it comes to energy and fun, Kakushigoto has got it in spades.
I wasn’t sure whether the show would entirely win me over as I watched this premiere, though. High-concept comedies are tricky, because it is very subjective whether or not the silly hooks that anchor the show work for any given viewer. The titular Kakushi Goto is the kind of incredibly extra dork of a dad that I usually find endearing, but his antics didn’t always land for me. Pretty much every person in his life openly acknowledges how silly and self-defeating his obsession with preserving his daughter’s innocence concerning his dirty manga is, but I still found myself becoming a little exhausted with his thick-headedness. There’s a whole bit where Kakushi is trying to figure out how to become a “mango” (a play on “bungo”, the Japanese term for “legendary author”), but the punchline is obvious from a mile away: How can he expect to become a nationally renowned author without his daughter figuring it out eventually? It’s not even a bad shtick for the show to run with; I’m just not sure Kakushigoto could sustain an entire series’ worth of half-hour episodes if the one joke is Kakushi running around like an idiot to keep his kid from seeing his name on a book cover, or whatever.
The other element of the premiere’s plot helped balance the whole show out for me, though, when we spend more time with Hime Goto and her group of precocious friends, who have formed a mystery solving club for their neighborhood, you know, as kids do. Naturally, the girls’ investigation winds up crossing paths with Kakushi while he’s decked out in his bummy manga-drawing attire, which leads to a chase through a neighborhood and into Totally Not a Starbucks. I liked Kakushi’s antics more when his very normal and straightforward daughter and her goofy friends were there to balance him out, not to mention that I’m always a sucker for the old “kids playing pretend misunderstand an otherwise totally normal situation” bit. For all of the episode’s gags, I laughed the hardest when Hime kept trying to convince her pals that the evil witch’s den they were trapped in really was just a Starbucks.
So, consider Kakushigoto a winner in my book. It may not have grabbed with a hundred percent with its comedy, but that’s how it goes for virtually any work of art that’s trying to elicit a chuckle or two. Besides, it’s damned gorgeous to look at, and it’s overflowing with visual energy that makes even the tepid gags whizz by. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Kakushi and Hime’s misadventures as the spring continues.