Dahlia in Bloom: Crafting a Fresh Start with Magical Tools – Episode 1

By: ThatNerdyBoliviane July 7, 20240 Comments
Dahlia posing

What’s it about? After dying of being overworked in Japan, Dahlia reincarnated into a world full of magic.  Dahlia loves her new life and is passionate about following in her father’s footsteps when he passes away, leaving her alone with no close relatives.  After her insecure fiancé dumps her for another woman, she vows to live for herself and become a great magical toolmaking artisan.  

The animation really hurts for this one folks.  It’s so obvious that the animators had a vision on how they wanted the series to look, but boy was the production history for this show not on its side.  Apparently, it was revealed by 38 North, a website dedicated to analyzing North Korea, that Dahla in Bloom was outsourced to several animation companies abroad.  Somewhere along the way, a known North Korean animation studio was suspected of doing several scenes in the series–which is an issue partly because such animation studios are potentially engaging in forced labor.  Even though nothing has been officially confirmed, the production staff is currently under investigation and all the scenes supposedly done by North Korean animators are being redone.  

If that already wasn’t a major problem then forcing the production staff to keep on schedule for a July release is downright vicious.  Dahlia in Bloom clearly needed more time, and it’s a shame that the animators were subjected to a brutal crunch period in order to meet their deadlines.  It’s painful because it’s evident that the animators cared about the world building; they even tried to showcase the world Dahlia is living in by doing wide cinematic camera movements around her home town, but all it did was reveal that the background art is so empty and lifeless.  The CG is very noticeable and generally it just doesn’t mix well with the 2D animation.  It was actually hard for me to take any screenshots for this review since each time I paused to take a picture the shots just didn’t look good.  

Dahlia dying of being overworked in Japan
I’d be very sad if a work email was the last thing I see before I die.

I’m frustrated that Dahlia in Bloom looks like this because on paper the story is really great.  The premiere primarily focuses on Dahlia’s relationship with her father and how loving their little family unit was before he passed away.  Carlo is clearly in awe of his daughter’s creative ideas that he often forgets that he has to find a balance between being a mentor and a father.  Parent and child relationships in anime are frequently fraught in anime, so it’s nice to see how gentle yet firm Carlo was as a parent.  It’s not entirely clear if Dahlia remembers her past life, but she does remember modern technology and with the help of her father, she uses magic stones to recreate what she recalls into her current reality.  

Dahlia in Bloom has so much potential and it’s clear that the team tried their best to deliver a good product.  It’s no secret that the Japanese animation industry frequently overworks and underpays their animators for their hard work, leading to a vicious cycle of burnout that leaves newcomers unprepared.  The fact that this series was outsourced multiple times for the sake of reducing costs underlines the ongoing problem of the animation industry unwilling to pay its workers–animators and beyond–a livable wage.  

Picture of Dahlia and her father
Dahlia in Bloom deserved so much better.

I hope that Dahlia in Bloom gets a chance for a new adaptation in the future, since we are seeing the rise of remakes of older titles. Either way the production history of this series really soured my viewing of the premiere, despite its likable heroine and solid concept, and I honestly think we are just better off reading the light novel and/or the manga adaptation for the sake of our collective sanity.

About the Author : ThatNerdyBoliviane

ThatNerdyBoliviane was originally born in New York City and essentially lived there until the age of 17 when they had to move to Toronto for reasons. They are currently struggling to survive in this weird-ass world that does not celebrate awesomeness enough. They self identify as Queer Quechua (Mestize) Bolivian-American and are involved with social justice work of all kinds. Aside from that, they are an avid lover of anime, manga, cartoons, (on rare occasion live-action TV shows if it’s good), and having amazing discussions with other folks about nerdy things. You can visit their blog Home to my Bitter Thoughts or follow them on Twitter @LizzieVisitante.

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