You’d think with a title like that, Gifu Dodo would appeal to somebody. Yet, beyond the cursory blurbs in comprehensive season preview guides, I haven’t really seen anyone writing about this show. I can only assume that nobody’s really watching.
And, honestly, I can’t blame you. To be frank, I don’t exactly know why I tune in every Tuesday. Hell, I’m not even sure I could provide a decent definition of the series, let alone rattle off reasons for the previously-uninterested to watch. I originally came for the Tetsuo Hara character designs, but that’s certainly not why I’ve stayed thus far or why I’ll likely stick with the Dazzling Sengoku Period Story.
Below, I try to get my thoughts in order and formulate some kind of statement about what exactly this show is. This is much more of an explanation (rationalization?) for my own benefit rather than a plea for others to watch GD. The true reason for this post, however, is to find out if anyone else (besides Charles Dunbar) is watching this series.
Suggested Soundtrack for Reading – Scorpions “Can’t Explain”
Gifu Dodo begins each episode with two dudes chillin’ over drinks, watching the moon shine over the river, and telling stories. The dudes in question are Naoe Kanetsugu and Meada Keiji, who you might’ve seen in one of the many, many hyperbolic anime depictions of the Sengoku period, and the content of the show is just these stories they tell about this or that incident they share memories of.
Given this setup, the high volume of cherry blossoms and the most deceptively rocking OP I have seen in a while, you’d think that the creative staff could take this series in one of a couple of possible directions. So far, that’s not the case. They’re not really openly pushing homoeroticism the way that, say, Oofuri or No. 6 do, although, sure, the number of smiles exchanged between the leads is the stuff doujins are made of. But, neither have they gone the route of Sengoku Basara, with its explosions and its Engrish. It’s not that the series plays it straight, it’s just that nobody puts their guns on. Gifu Dodo is not a show that indulges in extremes.
So much, then, for what it isn’t. What the show is, I guess, is a large bowl of thick, aromatic stew of the sights and sounds of an era gone by. You’re meant to breathe deeply and sip slowly rather than binge. Gifu Dodo takes much of its time simply showing us the historical (though exaggerated) figures, locales, wardrobes and relationship dynamics of that particular time and place. Characters are behaving in ways that may seem odd, names are dropped without much explanation…you probably already have to be interested in this stuff because the show isn’t functioning as a primer. This becomes evident when the first episode turns out to be about, not an historic battle but an obscure custom called an uwanariuchi, one of the few artifacts that the series does explain. It’s basically ritualized combat between a man’s ex and current wives, though it’s not as exciting as you may be thinking.
Hmm. All of that makes the show sound a bit serious, but it is rather silly and certainly embellishes quite a bit where Keiji and Kanetsugu are concerned. Our two heroes are fucking enormous guys. On one hand, this is just Hara being Hara, but it is also indicative of the fact that Keiji and Kanetsugu sort of exist outside of the laws that bind everyone else on the show. Yet, this isn’t being exploited so much as chuckled at. Actually, I think that’s precisely what Gifu Dodo is trying to get you to do: not to laugh uproariously, not to stand up and say “oh shit!” but to elicit a chuckle which leaves behind the warm smile associated with experiencing a subtle pleasure. And, there’s plenty to chuckle about. I have already mentioned the cherry blossoms.
So, yeah. I am watching Gifu Dodo, this historical (but not really) sort of character piece sort of comic…thing.
That is my righteousness.