Anime Limited / Viewster
Big Brother is watching you... or should that be "Onii-san is watching you"? While the UK seems constantly trapped in the midst of socio-political debates around the role of surveillance technology in the name of security, combating crime and so forth, CCTV cameras have an entirely different task to carry out in the world of Castle Town Dandelion and seem to have been willingly accepted by all and sundry as a result. Well, almost all and sundry...
In truth, the sole reason for the existence of thousands of camera covering every publicly visible corner of this domain is a simple whim of its monarch, who has chosen to decide upon which of his nine children inherit his throne by putting it to a public vote. Of course, there's only one way that the public can possibly figure out who their preferred king or queen might be, and that's by broadcasting the children's every movement and behaviour in the outside world to their adoring populace. If you thought coverage of royal babies in this country is bad, it pales in comparison to the incessant coverage of the Sakurada family here, with constant TV shows and polls to see who is on top when it comes to taking the kingdom's top job. Then again, given that each member of the family also has a unique special power of their very own which they can utilise at will, you are at least likely to see something unusual from such a voyeuristic pursuit.
You might be forgiven for assuming that this would cause those at the centre of this race to become king or queen to fight against one another tooth and nail to try and get an upper hand in proceedings, but far from it - although all nine siblings are actively engaged in trying to improve their standing with the populace and have some kind of designs on becoming the new ruler, they all seem pretty sanguine about it and (at this juncture at least) are quite happy to play fair and play nice with one another. Then again, living at such close quarters in modest accommodation - there are no palaces and luxurious residences for this royal family to enjoy in their daily existence - there isn't a whole lot of room to be anything but pleasant to one another.
While most of the siblings are relatively keen to put themselves out there in front of an audience and show what they can do, there is something of a black sheep within the Sakurada family in the form of Akane, a shy girl who will do anything to stay out of limelight and away from the gaze of those pesky cameras. For the most part it's her travails that Castle Town Dandelion follows, as Akane finds herself torn between avoiding publicity - which usually ends up with her accidentally stumbling into the midst of it - and courting the voting public so that she might become queen and abolishes the cameras which torture her so.
If we're honest, Akane is probably one of the least interest characters in the series, so thankfully these early episodes of the show are smart enough to leverage the rest of her cast of brothers and sisters too, and although none of them particularly stand-out (I'd be hard-pressed to tell you their names without looking them up) they do keep things varied and offer some different perspectives on the promise of becoming ruler of the land.
At this point, we should probably mention that Castle Town Dandelion is a comedy series, and one based upon a four-panel manga at that - if you're expecting deep character introspection or a thoughtful examination of how constant surveillance can influence the actions and behaviour of an individual, then you certainly won't find it here. So how is the comedy? Well... it's there. Nominally. The series doesn't help itself by making the butt (if you'll excuse the pun) of every joke built up in its first episode "and then everyone gets to see Akane's panties". It might, might, be funny once, but used as the pay-off to three relatively lengthy segments in succession it reeks of a show that has run out of ideas before it's even begun. Thankfully, subsequent episodes are more imaginative (at least until episode four revisits the idea in grand fashion), but still simplistic in their construction and without any personalities or situations to really make anything it does stand out as being memorable.
It's this, ultimately, which sinks Castle Town Dandelion into the realms of mediocrity thus far - any of the interesting aspects of its premise are barely touched, and instead are used rather lazily as a half-baked springboard for some predictable attempts at humour that rarely hit home and are hardly helped along by the equally forgettable cast. The show otherwise looks and sounds competent, but even its presentation doesn't have any particular panache to give the series a kickstart. If you're looking for something inoffensive and mild-mannered to pass the time then this show might work for you, but with plenty of better comedy series on offer in the UK streaming space we'd be hard-pressed to recommend this one no matter how much we like the idea of its setup.
You can currently watch Castle Town Dandelion in streaming form on Viewster.