Just when you think you have seen everything, you find something new. Or at least, a combination of pre-existing genres in a way that feels novel. This is the case with the Japanese Manga (and Anime) Castle Town Dandelion.
The genres being combined here are: Family Sitcom; Superheroes; Soap Opera; and Reality Show. Yup, and somehow, it all works!
To be specific, the series is about the royal family of a (modern day) country. Except each of them has a different super-power for some reason (apparently it runs in the royal bloodline.) Then the King decides that they should live in the suburbs, because he wants his kids to grow up as normally as possible. And then he decides that the next king should be decided by public vote, resulting in his children -some of whom are preteens!– running for office against each other!
It sounds convoluted, but it’s not. Dandelion is mainly about its cast and their relationships with each other and their friends. Toss in some (rather inventive) superpowers and a *lot* of zany events and you have (multiple) fun stories each episode.
The name of the family is Sakurada, and its members are:
* King Soichiro: The father of nine (!) children. He was forced to become king at an early age due to his parents’ deaths; that might be why he has made such odd choices for his family. His power is the ability to see people’s “auras”, allowing him to know what they feel.
* Queen Satsuki: His wife and mother to the kids. She comes from a normal family.
* Aoi: The oldest child. Her power is supposed to be the ability to learn anything instantly. It’s not but I’m not giving away the truth- she has quite an interesting motive and reaction to it.
* Shu: Second oldest child. Can teleport at will. Wanted to be a soccer player, but a childhood accident affected his legs too much.
* Kanade: Shu’s twin sister, younger by a few minutes. She and Shu have a rivalry going on. Her power is the ability to create any object, but this costs her money (?) Presumably, she’s teleporting materials from somewhere and must pay for them.
* Akane: The focus of many of the stories, Akane is the fourth child with the power to control gravity. Unfortunately she also suffers from crippling shyness, which of course means she gets embarrassed the most.
* Haruka: Fifth child, a boy with the ability to calculate probabilities instantly. He’s also Misaki’s older twin.
* Misaki: Sixth child, with the power to create seven clones of herself- each with a different skill and personality based on one of the “seven sins”.
* Hikari: Seventh child, a girl with the power to make living things older or younger (for 24 hours.)
* Teru: Eight child, a boy who can gain temporary super-strength. Acts like a Shonen anime hero.
* Shiori: the youngest child, her power allows her to speak with animals- and even objects!
The stories are usually pretty simple; they either set up a joke or explore a certain character. The only thing that bothers me, and keeps me from otherwise recommending this for the whole family, is that some jokes are a little risque. Mostly these are the “Oh no we can see Akane’s panties!” jokes; but there’s also a joke where it sounds as if Misaki has a crush *on Haruka*. This is probably a parody of a certain type of Japanese adult fiction, but the joke might fly over Western audiences.
Unlike the Manga, the Anime has already produced a final episode so we see which sibling wins (not going to spoil it here.)
Overall Dandelion is just a slice-of-life comedy that focuses on a family; it just happens to have superpowers, royalty and politics messing things up. I recommend it for fans of comedy, anime, manga, and superheroes. Not recommended if panty or incest jokes bother you.