Kakushigoto Has Anime's Perfect Father-Daughter Relationship

Wholesome father-daughter relationships aren't a new concept in anime. However, most anime centered around such relationships are cloyingly sweet, focusing solely on slice-of-life cuteness. Kakushigoto: My Dad's Secret Ambition is an amalgamation of ideas that somehow all shape together to create a succinctly told story. Comedy, mystery, slice-of-life and drama come together to create this character-driven narrative.

Creator Kouji Kumeta, known for Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei and Joshiraku, carries on his usual quirks in Kakushigoto, such as an abundance of pun-based humor. The most important is the title of the series: Kakushigoto contains a double meaning, as one word the title means "hidden things" or "secrets," but split in two and "kaku shigoto" takes on its second meaning, a drawing job. To add on to the ironic pun, the father's name in the series is also "Kakushi Goto." In this title and name lies the premise of the series, as father Kakushi Goto is hiding a secret from his daughter: that he is an ecchi gag manga-ka. However, it appears there is more to his secrets than just being a weird manga-ka.

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Kakushigoto starts with 18-year-old Hime Goto receiving a key to a mysterious villa that contains her father's manga manuscripts. However, most of the show takes place when Hime was 10 years old, prior to learning of her father's secrets. The segments of Hime as an 18-year-old are spliced in at either the beginning or end of each episode, framed in a mysterious manner so that each episode viewers learn of a new secret.

For fear of rejection and repulsion by his daughter, Kakushi Goto vowed to never reveal his job as an ecchi manga-ka to Hime, going as far as to get his assistants to hide his manuscripts in a villa, dress like a salaryman, decorate his workspace to be like a normal office, and essentially live like a modern-day Clark Kent.

The crux of Kakushi and Hime's dilemma begins at the end of episode 1. After listening to her friend describe how her mother believes men become happier due to promotions and recognition, Hime wishes her father to "become important." This concerns Kakushi, as becoming important is akin to becoming famous and thus exposing his identity as a mangaka to Hime. This interplay between importance, fame and happiness becomes a major theme of the show. Hime childishly and selflessly believes that Kakushi's happiness is rooted behind the work he does at his job, when in reality it's rooted in his desire to see his daughter grow up happy.

Kakushigoto accurately portrays what it's like to be a single parent desperately trying to raise a child by themselves. As a single father, Kakushi is overly-cautious and overly-protective around his oblivious yet adorable daughter. Kakushi's ability to imagine the worst scenario is the core of the show's comedy. Sometimes these misunderstandings and exaggerations can teeter at the edge of completely ridiculous,but it always quite perceptive and nails relatable yet absurdist humor.

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Hime's father also holds many worries both about himself and how he is raising Hime. He frets over how Hime may be judged by classmates for not having a mother, or how there are certain tasks he can't accomplish as a father. He truly believes every family needs a mother, and takes on tasks mothers would typically do, such as learning how to cook for Hime and attending her sports festivals.

His concerns also manifest in his workplace. A large portion of Kakushigoto is meta-commentary on the manga industry, and the workplace comedy segments are some of its best moments. Kakushi is your average overworked mangaka who's been working for years on multiple series. These comedic segments poke fun at how the manga industry is run, even referencing other manga-ka like Negima!'s Ken Akamatsu. These moments also point out the obstacles mangaka face: stress, deadlines, injury and annoying editors.

Most of the series is told from the perspective of Kakushi, SO the perception of Hime is rose-colored by her father's overly positive view of her. From her father's point-of-view, Hime is caring, airheaded and the light of his life. However, there is more to her than just that.

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The name "Himegoto" translates to "secret" or "secret princess" as well. This informs the Hime is also keeping secrets. Aside from being an adorable daughter, Hime is quite emotionally perceptive. She is aware her family is different, and this awareness strikes her hard when talking with her friends about their families. Some kids berate her for washing dishes incorrectly, asking if her mother ever taught Hime how to do it. Hime invites her friends to her home where they comment on the size of the house and ask if she is poor due to living in a one-story abode. She even worries about asking her father for a dog due to the increased responsibility it would cause upon her family.

Moments like these indicate her sacrificial nature. She worries a great deal about her father and his ability to take on all the responsibilities of both a mom and a dad. These are the times the show is truly heartbreaking, as the scenario of having to sacrifice one's selfish desires is all too familiar for many struggling families.

Luckily, Kakushigoto isn't all focused on hardships and struggles. It also features a good deal of happy moments, such as Kakushi and Hime going to the hot springs together or Kakushi sending his daughter to Kidzanira, an amusement park for children to learn about various careers they can uptake as adults.

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Despite this show focusing on a father-daughter relationship, the impact Hime's mother has is still felt throughout the series. This impact is most strongly indicated through boxes she left for Hime to open on her birthdays. Each box contains items Hime may need at that age. For age 10, for example, she had a recipe book with simple enough recipes she could cook by herself.

Though she isn't physically present in the series, her mother's love is felt strongly and inspires Goto himself on multiple occasions. This is one of the best depictions of an absent parent in anime, as instead of riddling the viewer with constant flashbacks,  hints are dropped throughout the story of what kind of person they are and how their actions affect the characters in the present.

Kakushigoto is a unique portrayal of a father-daughter relationship, with a mix of bittersweet drama and hilarious comedy it keeps the show entertaining and never too overbearing.

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