My grandmother has an awful cat. She picked up the cat from a shelter back when she was still living in her own home. With her children long gone, her husband passed, and little time to take care of a dog, it was no surprise that my grandmother greeted me at her door one day with a squirming ball of fur that she called “Buffy.”
Buffy hisses, she bites, she jumps up on furniture always – including surfaces meant for preparing or serving food, which naturally leads to constant, thorough scrubbings. She hates being pet, picked up, or otherwise bothered by anyone but my grandmother, and even then her presumed owner is given a short leash. My grandmother always laughed when Buffy walked through a Scrabble game or knocked holiday cards off of the fireplace mantle. We quickly learned that Buffy had license to do what my brother and I as babies would have swiftly been punished for, and learned to accept that my grandmother would never see her lengthy list of faults.
Pet owners, myself included, notoriously project their own emotional states or wants onto the actions of their animals, and my grandmother was no exception. She loved Buffy, Buffy loved her – at least, from my grandmother’s perspective there was love returned – and any word otherwise was quickly dismissed.
This may be surprising to some, due to how maligned the series was while airing. Unwitting passenger on the autumn 2011 hype train, Guilty Crown became a must-see series months before the first episode aired. It debuted to a smattering of applause, with an eager audience waiting with baited breath for the series to deliver on its supposed promises. They continued to wait, and wait, until slowly, viewers began to disembark from the hype train, especially when the conductor himself couldn’t stand to watch the series past the seventh episode. Guilty Crown became a joke, something to watch to see what new crazy plot development the staff would come up with next, and the anime blogging community pounced on every misstep. I too, joined in on this fun.
In spite of being an obvious target – the easiest of 2011, if the year-end lists are to be believed – the majority of viewers in the blogging community stuck with Guilty Crown to the end. The term “watching ironically” was bandied about, as it often is with any sort of series deemed terrible, “terribad,” or of the “so bad, it’s good” variety. However, I don’t particularly believe in so-called ironic enjoyment.
“He’s my younger brother. I understand him too. I understand him, that’s why it hurts.”
-Yaichirou Shimogamo, Uchouten Kazoku, episode 8
Growing up, my brother and I were close friends. This was borne of necessity as, for a few years, we were the only children close in age in our neighborhood. As we grew older, other families with children our age moved in; however, my brother and I remained close. Often, both our friends and their parents would comment on how rarely we fought compared to themselves, or their children, respectively. To anyone who met us, we appeared to have a fantastic brother-sister relationship. The reality was often far different than the image.
Uchouten Kazoku surprised me with how well it portrayed subtle familial emotions and relationships within the Shimogamo Family. Opening with the various ways that four brothers, and their mother, are attempting to deal with their father’s death the series – in spite of turns to the dramatic – takes great pains to show the complexity that can accompany one’s feelings for their family members.