Have you ever seen something change and feel somewhat indifferent to the alterations? Even if the changes included a rather large one that really shook things up? Because that's exactly what I felt after watching season two of Dagashi Kashi. Indifference to the fact most of the anime essentially shelves a key character, indifference that the anime's focus was no longer the same, and indifference towards changes in characters I really liked from the first season. At the same time however I can recognize that these changes may turn some watchers away, so allow me to be your town crier and bring you up to speed on this second season's offerings.
To kick things off, this season almost immediately removes the snack obsessive Hotaru from the equation. Sure we get a few episodes where she shoves her tits in our faces to remind us that she is just as stacked as before, and establishes that she still has bad luck when it comes to games of contest. But then, after an almost confession from Kokonotsu, she takes off and is not seen again until the final episode. Not only Hotaru, but also Kokonotsu's father Yō leaves the picture. We do get some background on how Hotaru became so obsessed with Japanese snacks and the traditional snack shops, which felt like a low blow right in the feels from Dagashi shop owners everywhere, but her and Yō's departure leaves a vacuum that two new characters attempt to fill.
At first we are introduced to the owner of a brand new convenience store that opened up across the street from Kokonotsu's place, an eccentric man by the name of Beniyutaka who we later learn is actually Hotaru's older brother. He creates the problem of finances and competition in the small town Kokonotsu lives in, though this is partially due in part to Kokonotsu letting the shop go to the dogs after Hotaru absence. The second character is the female replacement for Hotaru, and was by far the more important of the two new characters introduced. Her name is Hajime and she is prime office lady material, wearing a business-esque outfit, sporting glasses, and the smarts to create a website. She is most certainly the most mature character yet, in more ways than one, but her major flaw is that she is very lazy and often falls asleep at work. Not that that bothers me, she more than makes up for it with her efforts between naps.
The second part of my indifferences was the change in focus, with the story being far less about Japanese snacks and the little facts we might find interesting about them. Instead there this back and forth between hijinks involving Kokonotsu's group of friends, and Kokonotsu's own life and what his goals were and now are. Hotaru's absence makes him realize that his original goal of being a mangaka was put off, and that he needs to get his act together if he wants to return to that goal. The whole season comes off feeling far less comedic than the previous, with the change in focus and the lack of Hotaru who for all intensive purposes serves as a kind of wild card that none of the characters, even the new ones, can replicate effectively. Yet even though this change meant I was not getting what I came for, I still felt indifferent, likely because the third change had me off kilter to begin with.
That third change being Saya's personaility, and in general, her character. Previously she was the level headed and cool country side gal who is in love with Kokonotsu, she excelled in all games and was recognized by Hotaru as "master". In this season she is that kind of character who reacts to anything not-normal with shouting and yelling, which reveals that her single fang has now become a full god damn set of shark teeth. Not that I have anything against shark teeth, but her single fang was cute and matched her accent rather well. I guess you could say she was put in the oven a little too long this season, because she is just overdone. Oh, and before I forget, because he's rather forgettable this season, Saya's brother Tō is still around. He gets almost no screen time, unlike the first season, and only shows up twice in any capacity to play a joke role.
Yeah, this season pretty much was lack luster. It had its moments, for sure, but those only came up because I'm a perverted guy and I love older female characters who are one part business, one part sexy, and one part mother. I barely got in a laugh edgewise, and the "slice of life" aspect was far less prevalent in these more outlandish scenarios. The season wraps up by realizing it's mistake and bringing back Hotaru, allowing her and Kokonotsu to share another close moment, and then leaving off with her learning that Kokonotsu has more or less accepted the responsibility of being the manager of the Dagashi shop. This was her original goal to begin with, but it would seem that she now has decided that instead of Yō, she wants Kokonotsu.
Genres: Comedy, Slice of Life
Animation: Here's another change, as studio Feel is gone and Tezuka Productions has taken over. An odd choice, Tezuka Productions is the same group that animated Astro Boy, Black Jack, and Kids on the Slope. The whole animation is far more 'sharp', but this isn't a good thing. Season one taught us that this is a series with many ecchi moments, but 'sharp' animation is not something that works well with this genre. It's harder to capture a sexy look, and just ends up canceling out anything but the most blatant sexual innuendo.
Voice Acting: Likely the only thing unchanged from the first season, everyone was still voiced by the same actors and they all performed just the same. The new characters were good too, though I was a bit surprised to learn that Hajime was voiced by Chinatsu Akasaki, the same actress who voices Alice Nakiri from Shokugeki no Soma. She honestly sounded nothing like her.
Favorite Character: With the changes to Saya I just can't give this one to her again, and instead I will be handing off this award to Hajime Owari. Smart, good looking, and she shares a loves for sleeping with me. Her attire makes her look like a frazzled office lady, her personality is frantic but motherly, and she is totally ok with living under the same roof as a young man who has no parent present at the time. So she's either very mature, or she doesn't feel threatened by Kokonotsu. In either case, I dig it.
Dagashi Kashi 2 gets a 6.8 out of 10