Dancho leads into temptation; delivers no one from evil.
In “Failure as a Leader,” the gang is almost fully reunited, they set out in search of Kakka and Ruro. The pair has been working tirelessly to take down the Arthurs — with more tenacity than Dancho seemingly ever had. Dancho attempts to convince the duo to come back, but they publicly roast Dancho as being a horrible leader and refuse to return. The rest of Dancho’s newly-reunited team realizes that the pair has a point, and leave Dancho to go join them. In a final attempt to get her team back, Dancho squares off with Kakka and Ruro to prove herself worthy of leading them. They rightfully demean her for all the terrible, irresponsible, suggestive and morally questionable things she’s done as a leader, until Dancho finally promises to do better. They set aside their differences, and agree to search for Yamaneko.
In “Goodbye, Yama,” the gang tracks down Yamaneko — only to find that she has relocated to a quaint mountain town with no recollection of who she previously was. Coupy informs them that it’s because they happened upon a hot spring which — unbeknownst to Yamaneko — erases the memory of anyone who soaks in it for too long. The gang spends the entire time trying to get Yamaneko to remember who she was (while Dancho tries to take physical advantage of her. Yikes?) When an Arthur arrives to threaten the safety of her town and team, Yamaneko’s memory is triggered and she returns to her fiery self — rejoining the group.
Remember how low the bar is set for queer representation? Yeah, Dancho manages to limbo underneath that bar. While it’s good to portray all types of characters, writers need to pay very close attention to the media history of the types of characters they’re writing for. For example, while anyone of any gender or sexuality can be morally suggestive, queer characters in media have an unfortunately broad history of being portrayed as predatory. Positive queer representation is critical to balance out the overwhelmingly offensive depictions of queer characters out there — which exist explicitly due to 1) A lack of queer writers in media, 2) Writers who are blatantly homophobic, and 3) A lack of straight writers properly researching how to write a queer character.
Dancho is so anatomically incorrect it’s hard to look at sometimes. She’s also just a terrible person — and leader. Hot take: if Dancho wanted so badly to be part of the team again, she would have respected that Ruro and Kakka were doing a more efficient job of taking down the Arthurs without her as the leader. All of their points were extremely valid, and a true leader respects when they are no longer the right fit to lead. Furthermore, instead of just promising her team that she would do better, she should have worked under them without her leadership position, in order to prove herself and gain back her trust. Obviously, Dancho doesn’t respect democracy as a concept, either.
That being said, there are still redeeming qualities about her — they’re just overshadowed by the bad. She’s fun and funny at times, and she is entertaining to watch — but it’s hard not to agree with her team when it comes to her morals and attitudes (especially since she goes right back to doing practically the same irresponsible and predatory behaviors RIGHT AFTER the episode where she promised she’d change. Tell it to the judge, Dancho.)
It’s hard to say where the group will go from here. Will Dancho actually be able to prove herself — for that matter, will the show be able to prove itself? There’s gorgeous artwork (the mountains specifically come to mind here) and the voice acting has its moments (when the girls don’t sound like literal toddlers) but where will they go with it? Is the world of story doomed, along with its literal world?
It’s about time this show promised its viewers to be better.