Content considerations: Child abandonment; slapstick violence between a parent and their adult child.
What’s it about? After his unsuccessful band breaks up and he receives a message that his dad is in the hospital, thirty-something Irino Nagomu decides to return home and take over his family’s wagashi (traditional sweet shop). However, he soon learns he has successor competition in the form of the 10-year-old Itsuka, who was taken in by Nagomu’s parents after her own parents abandoned her. Tentatively, the two begin to form a familial bond, with all the squabbling and support that entails.
Deaimon is a food show and a music show, a show about blood families and found families, a show that is melancholy and warm and silly in equal measures, and a show that manages to be all of this without feeling overstuffed or off-balance. I suspect its grounded setting and unhurried pace will cause it to fly under the radar, but I hope it doesn’t, because there’s a whole lot to like in this first episode.
There’s an effortless charm to this premiere, helped along largely by the immense likability of Nagomu, an outgoing, optimistic goober who’s not quite as carefree as he acts but is pretty darn close. His reputation for being irresponsible is less about selfishness and more about spontaneity: he follows his heart, whether that’s running off to play music in the city, running back home again when he thinks his dad is really sick (it’s just hemorrhoids), or helping Itsuka sell a surplus of sweets after a jerk customer plays a trick on her.
His spontaneity pairs nicely with his empathy (he gets so attached to the shop’s beautiful sweets that he cries when he sells them) as well as his general lack of self-confidence, creating a character who’s endearing but not perfect. He has potential for personal conflict and growth while also serving as a strong central figure in a show about forming bonds and being kind to yourself. Plus it’s always nice to see a male character be so openly emotional and supportive of others. It’s implied that his family sees his sensitivity as a weakness, but so far the series sees it as a strength, and I dearly hope that continues.
Nagomu also serves as the perfect foil to Itsuka, a hard-working, no-nonsense girl whose focus on independence and responsibility is an obvious coping mechanism for being abandoned by her parents. Beneath her dependable veneer is a hurt child desperate to be useful because she’s terrified of losing her home again. Deaimon plays Itsuka’s trauma with restraint but honesty, so that she comes across as a complete character instead of an archetypal waif.
This is also why her relationship with Nagomu works so well. Just as Itsuka’s determination inspires Nagomu to apply himself to his job more seriously, Nagomu encourages Itsuka to rely on others and not be so hard on herself. The show seems to be angling for the two to form a father-daughter relationship, though right now they feel more like siblings. Whatever the case, it’s delightful to see a “dad anime” that flips the gendered script, as it’s the dad’s kindness and warmth that sparks emotional openness from the prickly daughter rather than the other way around.
As far as things to warn folks about, there’s a bit of slapstick violence between Nagomu and his dad that may not sit right with everyone, and you should definitely not think too hard about the legality of the Irinos taking in Itsuka like she’s a stray kitten they found under their porch. (How did they enroll her in school? What happens when an authority figure asks to meet with her legal guardian? These are the kinds of questions you absolutely should not ask yourself while watching Deaimon.)
Past that, there’s only potential concerns, like how the show will handle its additional female characters (teased in the OP/ED songs but not yet introduced), especially the high schooler who is 100% going to develop a crush on Nagomu. Deaimon will also need to be careful it doesn’t veer too far into either saccharine tedium or acidic melodrama with Itsuka’s storyline, especially since the opening theme suggests her birth parents will make an appearance at some point. This first episode gives me a lot of hope the series can balance the sweet with the bitter, but we’ll have to let this one bake a little longer before we can say for sure.
Deaimon won’t be the wildest anime premiere you watch this week (Birdie Wing exists, after all), but it might be the best character writing that’s come across my screen so far, and it’s certainly one of the kindest shows of the new season. If found families, warm-hearted dramedies, or even just pretty food art is your thing, then you’d be well-advised to give this one a taste test.
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