It would be easy to write this title off as a benign attempt to parody the pairing of otaku and normal societal culture. And at first, it was exactly that. The show was fast-paced with its jokes and character introductions, leaving the viewer a bit bewildered to keep up with everything. However, something amazing happened: I started to care.
Now, I fully realize that using humor as character development can be a very dangerous thing. It fully relies on assuming the viewer will empathize and soften to the characters based on personality alone, without much of backstory or character motivations. In most cases, this doesn’t work. It could make the characters likable, but not deep or relatable. However, Dannaken (as I’ll refer to it, whether or not it makes sense) has an impressive display of story progression. It doesn’t only focus on the comedy (though it does more in the first half of the series), but it tries to provide a sense of forthcoming from the character’s former selves. It’s not anything spectacular, and this only happens with the two central characters, as opposed to every other character. Though, it works to a point where their relationship feels genuine, regardless of whether or not their relationship’s origin feels real at all (it doesn’t).
There’s a sense of maturity in this anime short that isn’t present in most other anime. This is likely due to all other anime focusing on teenagers and high school and you can’t show teenagers in high school involved in mature, adult things like sex and drugs and feelings outside of “Love or lust,” can we, Japan? Regardless, my previous claim doesn’t embody the entirety of Dannaken. It’s only when it doesn’t try to be a comedy. The comedy, to be frank, is fairly cliche. It’s not always unfunny, but it doesn’t tread far from industry standards, such as traps, otaku not liking the outside world, BL obsession, and DRUNK PEOPLE ARE STUPID HEHAHURRR!!! It’s when the anime tries to build the relationship between the two main characters. There are a few episodes later on (wise choice) that focus solely on the female character’s insecurities and doubts, and how her husband helped her deal with it. It’s subtle, but a connection was sewn between the two somewhere along that I can’t pinpoint. Not much to say about the male, though. But I guess that’s standard, eh?
The characters outside the main characters are almost entirely comic relief. I can’t recall any one moment where I cared about them whatsoever. Especially the male lead’s brother (the trap). Fuck him.
The overall design of the show is interesting, to say the least. It could also be described as minimalist. The two central character’s eyes are big, but their pupils are (usually) small. The male lead is typically hiding behind his glasses, so it’s just two big ovals. Their faces are either very round or very thick—almost chibi-like. It may be the studio’s attempt to make this short more moe, as it includes a weeb as one of the main characters, after all. All of the characters (for the most part) look distinct from one another. Although, when you have siblings and parents that look nothing like you, you start to question the legitimacy of their claims. Animation is standard and follows the situation well enough.
I’ve been intrigued with this show since I first read about its eventual anime adaptation back in [Insert appropriate date here]. Now that I’ve finished the first season, I will probably go and start the second immediately. As I previously stated, this anime actually made me care. It made me care about the central characters and their relationship, along with the show’s light-hearted take on the struggles of marriage. Anything outside of that, however, leaves much to be desired. If one has an hour to kill, watch this series. It’s decent enough to leave an impression, but probably won’t fester much afterwards. A cute, quick title.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.