My attitude towards the Kakushigoto anime has, so far, been quite mixed. Not only is the adaptation disappointingly direct, failing to bring anything interesting or original to the table, it also often chose to cut large portions of the manga for the sake of time, depriving several gags of their lead-in and build-up. Last week was a definite improvement, taking it a little slower and making some changes for the sake of the episode’s overall structure, but Kakushigoto episode 4 goes one step further. It feels like the first episode that I’ve genuinely enjoyed, although it does take a while to get there.
In many ways, Kakushigoto episode 4 is a real tale of two halves. The first half, titled ‘Normal Name,’ follows the same pattern of adaptation that was taken in previous weeks. Kakushi decides to change his name, which puts Tomaruin on a collision course in love with his housekeeper, Nadila. This then leads into a conversation with Rokujo, where she complains about the recent trend of ‘kira kira names.’ So far, so good.
Where Kakushigoto episode 4 fails is in its exclusion of several minor details that serve to punctuate the gags of the original manga. After Kakushi tries to change his name in the manga, for example, Rasuna says that at least the name of the production company is normal, because there are production companies out there that are named something far more ridiculous than ‘Goto Production.’
There’s also a scare for Kakushi at the end of chapter 43, where Hime gets wrapped up in fortune-telling, as she brings home a manga magazine. As it turns out, she’s only interested in it for the fortune-telling pages, so Kakushi is safe, but missing out such a gag only serves to further deprive the Kakushigoto anime of the content of the original, making it a poor man’s version by comparison.
At least, that’s what I would say if it was not for Kakushigoto episode 4’s second half. This segment comes from volume 3 of the original manga, and my memory of these chapters was very vague heading in. I even though, in my initial first draft of this review, that it might be anime-original, but that seemed too far-fetched this late in the game.
Certainly, the fact that I have a hazy memory of these gags from the manga no doubt plays a part in how much I enjoyed them in the anime, but I’d argue that an adaptation should be enjoyable on its own merits, regardless of how much knowledge the viewer has of the source material. My coverage of BEASTARS earlier this year should prove that. With that in mind, let’s dissect this second half.
Kakushigoto episode 4’s second half starts off with a request from Hime to help her with her art homework. Naturally, this puts the fear of God in Kakushi, who is afraid that his true, artistic profession might be revealed. He ends up going to an art class, where he meets the wannabe idol Naru, which leads to all sorts of romantic misunderstandings. Then, he takes Hime to the zoo, attempting to practice by drawing the animals, but decides to take Rokujo with him. Again, this leads to romantic misunderstandings, but there is also a bittersweet edge to the whole thing.
Where Kakushigoto episode 4’s second half succeeds is in its clever construction of the gags. Each one of them flows into each other, setting up the other and paying off another. There are also some hilarious exchanges that make light of things that are otherwise quite earnest, such as when Kakushi complains that he’s never once been asked to do a color page (an indication of his manga’s popularity, or lack thereof) and when Rokujo’s students assume that she lost her life partner in some sort of tragic accident. The coda to the whole scene afterward then adds a whole new dimension: Kakushi muses that perhaps Hime was not drawing from the lion’s perspective, but from her mother’s perspective, out there in the afterlife.
All of this adds up to a second half that is genuinely enjoyable in a way that I have not yet seen this adaptation be. Certainly, my relative inexperience with this content from the manga no doubt plays a role, but there were other, more material elements to the material that served it well. Going into next week, I don’t expect the series to repeat its success, but I am willing to be pleasantly surprised.
You can watch Kakushigoto episode 4 via Funimation.