Nagomu has been working for ten years to make it as a musician (with meager results) when a package of his family’s traditional sakura manju arrives bearing a little something more than its customary deliciousness: a letter, with news startling enough to get the wayward son to hop on a train home right away. Upon his return, he learns that a) it wasn’t an emergency after all (and his wily momma may just have played him), and b) his plan to stick around and step into his role as heir to Ryokushou, the family sweet shop, may not be in the cards after all. You see, he has been usurped—by a ten-year-old girl. Itsuka is all seriousness and responsibility where Nagomu is OTT genki cheeriness and clueless self-centeredness. She confronts where he laughs things off. She was abandoned by her parents, whereas he was the one who abandoned his. In other words, they are opposites—at least on the surface. Though separated by personality and a couple of decades of living, the two have one thing in common: a deep love for traditional sweets (and in Nagomu’s case, a touch of separation anxiety when selling them too). Both have a journey of healing and identity to walk out, and when some testy customers play a trick on Itsuka, the two rivals discover that they may well work better together after all.
What a beautiful anime! The artwork is a delight of soft watercolor washes, rich backgrounds, and subtle expressions. I didn’t spot even a single janky inbetween. Definitely a nice bit of promotion here for the old part of Kyoto, with its charming wooden buildings and luscious plant life peeking up between the cobbles. The sound design too is worth highlighting: before even taking in the visuals, you are drawn into the world of Ryokushou through the soft sighing of the spring breeze, the chirping of the birds, and the sounds of the artisanal quarter coming to life. I was a little worried, during previews a few weeks ago, that the story and characters themselves may be a little too sweet, but that is not the case. The writer responsible for series composition, Reiko Yoshida, has pitched things perfectly so far, providing just the right amount of suspense, with a dash of peril, alongside the humor, and transforming this from what could have been merely a pleasant but forgettable confection into a drama that has serious potential. Judging by the ED animation, there is a whole cast of characters yet to be introduced who will also be soothed and inspired by their encounters with the delicacies and denizens of Ryokushou. I, for one, cannot wait for the next episode!
Deaimon: Recipe for Happiness can be streamed through Crunchyroll.