“I, Shimogamo Yajirou, hope to return from this journey a bigger man than I am now.”
-Yajirou Shimogamo to his family, The Eccentric Family 2, Episode 9
There was always a part of me that identified with Yajirou Shimogamo not because he ran away from his family and his own emotions but how he did it: by hiding in plain sight, wallowing as a frog in a well. In this way, he can compartmentalize what he refuses to deal with, pushing it aside out of guilt. You know there’s something you should have done better, or need to do better, but rather than reaching out, you ignore it.
This certainly isn’t a good way of dealing with emotions, or people, and this is why the first season’s “Fake Eizen Electric Car” is such an iconic moment in the series. Finally, Yajirou lets go of his emotions for one night, transforms into something other than a frog, helps his family, and takes a monumental step forward towards actually healing.
His emotional healing process is slow and peppered with emotional high notes that are almost always absurd — his initial cell phone call to his mother in the first season still brings tears to my eyes every time I see it, despite the fact that visually it’s a frog talking into a smartphone. Yet, Yajirou’s actual departure in The Eccentric Family 2‘s ninth episode is quiet. He’s said all he needs to say to his mother in the previous episode, and before that, the previous season.
The series puts him conspicuously on the yellow line that runs across the train platform lobby where his brothers and soon-to-be sister-in-law Gyokuran Nanzenji, visually showing their separation. Yajirou already knows that things will be different when he returns, he even says as much by nodding to Yaichirou Shimogamo and Gyokuran’s upcoming wedding, but his promise to return indicates that he’s no longer crippled by the idea of change, or his own past. Change will occur, both to Yajirou on his journey, and the family members that he’s temporarily leaving behind, but now Yajirou understands that they’ll forgive him regardless.
There are many other emotionally affecting scenes in the most recent season of The Eccentric Family, including Kaisei Ebisugawa and Yasaburo Shimogamo’s developing relationship and Benten’s conflicts with the Nidaime, but I keep returning to this one scene as my favorite of the season. To return a better person is the most anyone can hope for from a journey, whether it’s a physical trip like Yajirou’s or purely an emotional one. The most important part of his parting words, is that Yajirou finally recognizes that he has something to return to.