Title: Poco’s Udon World aka Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari
Company: LIDEN FILMS
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 9 Oct 2016 – 25 Dec 2016
Synopsis: Tokyo-based web designer Tawara Souta is on his way back to his hometown in Kagawa for a break. While paying a visit to his family’s udon shop, he stumbles upon a young boy who mysteriously can’t speak. He decides to go around town and look for the boy’s parents but to no avail. As he searches and remembers his own childhood days, he notices ears and a tail coming out of the boy. Realizing the kid is actually a tanuki, he decides to name him Poco and take care of him.
Story: Simple and down-to-earth; perfect for easy watching.
Themes: Subtle and very relatable.
Nostalgia effect: The show’s strongest appeal.
What this show needs: More udon.
Soul-searching is something almost anyone can relate to. Many people want to understand themselves better, and there are different ways of doing so. Some opt for meditation and spending more alone time, whereas others take a break from their hectic daily lives and head back home to reflect on their past. Poco’s Udon World explores the latter, narrating the story of a man who comes back home years later only to make an unexpected discovery. Not only does the show successfully tell a feel-good story, it also weaves in a slideshow of tourist spots of protagonist Souta’s hometown. As a result, it invokes a heartwarming sense of nostalgia for the good old days for both the characters and some viewers as well.
Poco’s Udon World shares a lot of similarities with Barakamon. In addition to having remote locations for their settings, both shows belong to the same genre of slice-of-life:
focusing on the simple pleasures of daily life. While Barakamon leans more towards comedy, Poco’s Udon World is more introspective. Souta is that classic character who left the countryside to find his own calling against his late father’s wishes and decided to return perhaps out of self-repentance, only to be greeted with a serendipitous discovery that allows him to remember precious moments in his life and causes him to re-evaluate his decisions. This is where Poco comes in. He is not just the show’s adorable cute mascot; he embodies Souta’s childhood. The childish things he does, from wandering off without telling anyone to doodling on walls, serve as a window to Souta’s past and personality. This form of storytelling perfectly complements the overarching theme of feeling nostalgic towards one’s hometown and reflecting on one’s life choices. After Poco’s arrival, Souta must deal with being responsible, facing the consequences of one’s actions, and not take the important things in life for granted.
The audience might notice this show is trying to promote Kagawa prefecture as a tourist destination. True enough, it feels like a tourism promotional video and it doesn’t even attempt to be subtle with the references. Fortunately, even if it is such a video, it’s one that successfully ties in a down-to-earth tale that many people can relate to. Be it from local specialty dishes, scenic spots or local recreational activities, there aren’t many shows that can narrate a good story and promote a destination comfortably without being ham-fisted.
Maybe the title is deceiving; Poco’s Udon World is hardly about appreciating udon, nor is it about Poco. This is a story about Souta, his hometown and his life story, all of which make for a decent show that is perfect for viewers of all ages. Life doesn’t always go the way you it to. Sometimes you come across something that changes your life and you decide what’s best for yourself. Souta learns just that and it’s something we can all learn from.
The Rating: 7
Reviewed by: AC