tanuki

The difference an introduction can make: The Eccentric Family 2

“Humans live in the city, tanuki crawl the earth, and tengu fly through the air. Since the city’s establishment humans, tanuki, and tengu have maintained a delicate balance. That’s what keeps the great wheel of this city turning round and round. And watching that wheel spin is more fun than anything else.”

-Yasaburo Shimogamo, The Eccentric Family, Episode 1

This monologue from tanuki Yasaburo Shimogamo opens the first season of The Eccentric Family. After a season turmoil, warmth, forgiveness, and love, these words close the season as well.

The first episode of The Eccentric Family‘s second season eschews Yasaburo’s monologue about the hierarchy of tengu, tanuki, and humans in Kyoto. It wasn’t at all what I had expected.

But it was more affecting.

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“I’m definitely going to eat you up!” Uchouten Kazoku and Relationships as Social Capital

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You can choose your friends, but you cannot choose your family, or so the saying goes. By placing them side by side, Uchouten Kazoku is able to explore the various relationships forged between family members, friends, lovers, rivals, and business partners alike, similar to how the ever-rotating wheel of relationships between tengu, humans, and tanuki form the series’ background tapestry of modern-day Kyoto.

As it is with most social systems, this Kyoto is separated into multiple strata, with certain groups controlling different areas of the city. Likewise, within these groups there are inevitably the haves and the have-nots, all in a constant state of flux to out-do each other in order to reach the top. From Yasaburou Shimogamo’s perspective, none are as dangerous, influential, or as irresistible as Benten. She seemingly leads a charmed and incredibly successful life, full of wonderful things, and a bevy of humans, tengu, and tanuki all eager to please her.

How is it then, that she is the loneliest, most isolated, and sorrowful character within the series?

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Uchouten Kazoku and the Effects of an Absurd Death.

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“Our dad was one of the well-known, great tanuki of Kyoto. He was respected by many tanuki and with that influence he united tanuki society, but regrettably, several years ago he passed away. He was eaten as an ingredient in a hot pot.”

-Yasaburou Shimogamo, Uchouten Kazoku, episode 2.

I’ll admit, a chuckle escaped my lips as I heard this.

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