Episode 6 – Deaimon: Recipe for Happiness

Now this is more the show I thought we’d be getting. With its sixth episode, Deiamon returns to the family theme with something of a vengeance, also giving us an episode that’s much more cohesive than the previous two. Although it still is clearly divided into two sections, they complement each other better than the others have, and that just all around makes for a better viewing experience. The theme for both is parents and children, with the first half focusing on a neighborhood family sports day and the second on the return of Itsuka’s mother to fetch her. Both halves feel important because they inform each other so well. When Nagomu first suggests to Itsuka that they enter a parent/child competition because “they’re basically like father and daughter anyway,” her reaction isn’t a positive one, but we quickly see that she really does want to see Nagomu in that light, because it’s his cheering that spurs her on to win a race. She can’t express that because she’s got a biological father to whom she’s attached, but there’s a sense that she wouldn’t mind Nagomu still filling a parental role for which she doesn’t have a name.

That idea that “parents” is supposed to be a mother and a father, along with the assumption that all children have parents is one that Itsuka feels like a knife. We can see that in her lingering gaze on the “parent/child” designation next to the decapan (which I assume to be a portmanteau of “decorated” and “pants”) race and in her memory of not being able to participate in it the previous year. It’s the sort of casual hurt that she probably experiences a lot; Her friend’s comment about how she assumed that Itsuka’s parents were just off somewhere for work is another little cut on the girl’s psyche. And when her mother reappears in the second half of the episode, we can see that Itsuka never felt particularly attached to her, or at least not to the degree that society assumes daughters feel for their mothers. It’s largely implied to be because her mother was the breadwinner while her father was the stay-at-home parent; in Itsuka’s mind, Mama was just the one who naturally wasn’t around as much. I don’t think she doubted that her mother loved her – it’s more that she was used to her being the less present parent.

We don’t get too much about her mother’s feelings, but what we do see implies that she feels like she’s supposed to take Itsuka back with her, that she was always meant to be the parent who took custody of the child. And yeah, her dad did dump Itsuka at a confectionery before leaving, so that’s not a great sign of his parental skills. But her mother never even contacted her daughter for five years and only made an effort to find and see her when she stopped hearing from her husband. That doesn’t say anything too flattering about her parenting skills, and it’s the first true mark of how much she loves her child when she realizes that the best thing she can do for Itsuka is to let her stay where she feels happy, loved, and secure – even if she makes derogatory comments about Itsuka taking over the confectionery.

Not everyone is cut out to be a parent or enjoys being one. That’s okay, and it’s also something Itsuka’s mom has to realize for herself. I don’t doubt that she loves her daughter, and Itsuka is certainly pleased to talk to her mother. What comes next is her mom reconciling what she’s “supposed” to do with what’s actually going to make her happiest child, and I actually really like the resolution this comes to: she’ll remain in her daughter’s life, but she’ll put her child’s happiness first, and if that means not taking her with, that’s okay. I don’t pretend to know anything about custody laws in Japan, but for a work of fiction, this really feels like a good compromise for both of them and a satisfactory direction for the plot to take…until her father comes home.

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Deaimon: Recipe for Happiness is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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