Those were the days. The days we fussed over the stupidest little things. The days we thought a little embarrassment was the end of the world. The days we spent filling with nonsensical happiness. Those were the days. Those were the day… Few shows capture that longing and melancholy for those shining halcyon days than Kakushigoto.
Mr. Kakushi Gotou is a prominent manga artist who draws low-brow comedy series for a living and is too embarrassed by it to let his elementary school-age daughter, Hime, find out. As a single father he strives to create the illusion that he is a fine, upstanding member of society with a standard salaryman job, a farcical scheme his jaded assistants are openly exasperated by but secretly love to go along with.
Kakushi’s desperate attempts to keep his profession a “kakushi goto” (Japanese for “secret job”) lead to hilarious predicaments like him trying to hold a book signing right next door to the kids center his daughter was playing at, or him trying to pass his publisher’s end-of-year party as that of a “normal” company’s. It’s the kind of slapstick humor that hits all the frenetic notes to stand on its own. Show a random viewer some of these clips and you couldn’t fault them for thinking that’s the purpose of the show.
But that’s not what Kakushigoto is about, even if that comedy comprises maybe 90% of its content. That’s because the remaining 10% exerts such an overwhelming force that it transforms the series into a profound lesson on the ephemeral nature of life.
The last few minutes of almost every Kakushigoto episode is dedicated to showing a glimpse of the future, and it’s practically an entirely different show. Here’s what we know at this late point in the story: Hime is 18 years old when she finally learns of her father’s raunchy profession. We also know, however, that Kakushi is gone. Whether he passed away, went missing, left, or some combination can be inferred from various evidence but the cold, hard fact of the matter is that Hime’s father is no longer part of her life, and that’s affected her.
The grade-schooler Hime was oddly mature for her age, hiding her emotions and desires as to not worry those around her, especially her doting father. We see signs of that Hime in the present but as she shuffles through the old belongings of her father she begins to bear her emotions plain on her face and even break down. It’s a stark contrast to the cheery child we’re used to seeing for the majority of the show and that sobering knowledge begins to color your perception of what used to be mindless comedy. Those dazzling days are numbered and they won’t last forever, just like how nothing truly does.
The brilliant part of Kakushigoto, though, is how despite that awareness a gloomy shadow isn’t cast over the whole show. Instead, the oftentimes maniacal proceedings of Kakushi take on a sense of meaning. His shenanigans are absurd and his reasoning for them equally so, but Kakushi and everyone around him are genuinely enjoying life. We’ve been forced to recognize that each and every one of these silly moments of small happiness won’t happen again, and that makes them all the more precious. And if even the many silly escapades are precious, then the few subdued moments Kakushi shares with Hime — whether at the dinner table or just brushing their teeth together — are downright beautiful as he is constantly reminded of the gift life has bestowed upon him.
It can sometimes be easy to take for granted instances of small happiness in life. Insignificant or not, those moments are unique and won’t ever be repeated in quite the same way. It can be difficult to appreciate what we have until it is gone and all we’re left with is memories to reminisce on. The time may come when you want to return to the glory days just as Hime surely does as she rummages through the old house she once lived in. That’s why it’s important to take the time to cherish what we have right now, in this moment. After all, anime can be rewatched but days long past can’t be relived.
Watch Kakushigoto on Funimation