Going into Kakushigoto episode 2, my hope was that the structure of the source material would allow Ajia-Do more legroom to deliver on the series’ ever-important gags. The last episode never had a problem with the more emotional moments; what was more disconcerting was how it cut so much of the lead-in and build-up of the jokes. As a result, their punchlines felt robbed of energy, which isn’t exactly a good look in a comedy series. Nevertheless, it seems like Ajia-Do is intent on repeating the same mistakes.
Nothing demonstrates this more than the very first gag in the episode, where one of Kakushi’s assistants, Kakeru, comes into work to find the rest of the team hard at work making gyoza instead of finishing up the manuscript in time for their deadline. The initial situation is funny enough, pointing out how mangaka tend to avoid their duties by performing menial tasks, but much of the build-up is missed out because the episode skips over the giant list of escape methods that Kakeru finds Kakushi holding. Ami’s punchline then comes way too quickly, delivered in a static shot that does not work nearly as well as a still image does in the original manga.
Here, we see how both direct adaptation and cutting content works against Kakushigoto episode 2. But it’s not all bad. In fact, this episode does justice to some of my favorite gags in the entire manga – the bootlegs at the summer festival, the police investigation – but most of all, Goto Production’s team ‘vacation.’ In a rare move, Ajia-Do actually deviates from the manga to extend the punchline when a storm breaks out as Kakushi is talking about all the fun things that they are going to do, which heightens its comedic effect. This then carries on over to the subsequent scene where the team desperately try and find something to do; in this case, Ami’s punchline is delivered quite well, as she declares that she is drawing manga while the storm lights up her haggard face.
In this sense, my thoughts on Kakushigoto episode 2 are quite mixed. Sometimes the adaptation works for me, and sometimes it doesn’t. That contradiction is heightened, in turn, when you compare the episode’s handling of its more emotional content next to its comedic content.
The first episode hinted that Ajia-Do was going to focus more on the emotional through-line of the series, that being Hime’s relationship with her father’s hidden profession. This strategy becomes even more obvious in this episode as, at the very end, it skips over to volume 2 (everything that had been adapted up until that point was from volume 1) to adapt its beginning and end, where Hime explores her father’s safe house as a teenager.
These scenes are generally rendered very well, with Rie Takahashi’s voice acting working well alongside the setting to create an atmosphere of mystery and nostalgia. The same can be said for the scenes back in the present, where Hime is a kid: the moment where Kakushi reflects on what Hime may or may not be thinking about after one of her classmates mentions her mother is particularly poignant, and his reaction to the many boxes that have been placed in the wardrobe for Hime at different ages is deliciously murky. Kakushigoto episode 2 shows that this will be the strength of the adaptation going forward.
But can a comedy series really succeed if its comedic content doesn’t quite reach the heights of its source material? I don’t think so. While reception to the series thus far has been quite positive, as a fan of the original manga, I can’t help but continue to be a little disappointed. Of course, seeing all my favorite characters walk and talk will always be a treat – this episode’s abundance of Ami content was a particular blessing – but that spoonful of sugar might just leave a bad taste in my mouth.
You can watch Kakushigoto episode 2 via Funimation.