After watching these four episodes, I’m certain that Uchouten Kazoku will be my favourite P.A. works anime for a long time.
As I start getting back to watching and reviewing anime, the first series I automatically went to was Uchouten Kazoku. The first two episodes left me with a lot of intrigue, to the point where I was dying to see how the story had progressed – if at all – and whether the quirkiness was still a good enough selling point. With what these four episodes had to offer, I’d say that is very much the case.
Each episode is driven by characters as opposed to plot, and yet I feel like I’m watching a TV anime version of The Royal Tenenbaums. Very artistic, very bizarre but more than anything simple with its core message; family. Certainly one can watch the series for the supernatural elements, but it’s not half-bad as a feel good series either.
Since I have a lot of ground to cover, let’s start with where I left things off.
The second episode certainly accomplished more than the first episode. We were introduced to the matriarch/prince of the family and thus got a little more background on the family situation. That meant getting introduced to the brother who lives in the bottom of the well as a frog. Try writing that with a serious face.
Quirky without a doubt, this gave the episode an odd sense of comedy. However, there was a more serious underlying tone to the episode with each of the family members. Starting with the mother and ending with youngest brother, each one of the Shimogamo are hurting. Not overtly, but in silence. A type of suffering that deepened my investment in them as individuals and as a family. Also an investment in Uchouten Kazoku‘s plot.
The odd mix of comedy and serious plot lines was perfectly summarised by the ending. An ending where the mom was embracing her children whilst telling them how their father died. A moment that made me confused. Should I have been completely sad? Or was I meant to chuckle at the downright oddity of the situation. Regardless, it was a good episode to get us invested in the characters.
Following on from a great family-centric episode, we take a look at Yasaburou. More specifically, his affection for the intriguing Benten. Much like the episode itself, this obsession with Benten is a slow and ongoing process. A slow tease carried out by the femme fatale, who may or may not want to eat you – literally.
Seeing as how the entire episode was fixated on getting to Benten, it’s hard to say much else about it. A dabble into the surreal in some ways, but more of Uchouten Kazoku‘s slow pacing. Delightfully slow that is. Not to mention it works well in the slice-of-life genre.
As the episode came to a wrap, the transition into the next episode was set up. It was time to get back to the family-centric focus of Uchouten Kazoku. Making this episode, to some extent, a distraction from the main plot. Even though the secondary plot seems pretty important also.
Getting back to family affairs, this was another episode in which I felt attached to the family. As opposed to episode two, this one had more of a happy feel to it. Thus making it more enjoyable. It was a happy, light-hearted episode to get you all fuzzy inside and rooting for the poor family, as they come together to take down their rivals.
Being a family episode, it’s hard not to include old man Tengu in this group. His presence continues to be an interesting addition to the story, because of his links to Benten. One can never quite tell whether Yasaburou will be facing troubles because of him, but the relationship is sure to cause some problems for him.
Getting back to the episode itself, the best part was the actual fight. Not because it was exciting, or anything incredible. It had to do with bringing the family together. A family that continues to be broken at a time when they remember the patriarch and a past of unity. Just the flashbacks are enough to drive this point home.
There were a lot of emotions involved and that’s what made it such a good episode. An acknowledgement of the pain, followed by the fight against it. A sign that the Shimogamo still have some fight left in them. Of course, in the end Yasaburou might have to literally fight. Whatever happens, it’ll be interesting to see what Uchouten Kazoku makes of this.
And then we had this episode. Perhaps the most oddly alluring one yet. An episode of intense contradiction and more strange humour – Uchouten Kazoku‘s not-so-secret weapon. Again, we were back to Yasaburou and his very dangerous relationship with Benten.
Once again the episode had an objective of painting a very Woody Allen-esque relationship between the two. Benten’s sadistic teasing continued by taking Yasaburou hostage, led to some more of the awkwardness we saw at the end of episode two. In particular, the contradictions of emotion involving the Friday Fellows.
Remember, these were the guys who ate Yasaburou’s dad. He forced to hang out with the guys who ate his father and what’s more, he enjoyed it. This type of scripting is new to me – in anime – which makes it even more interesting to watch these episodes of Uchouten Kazoku.
Like the last time, the episode ended with a mixed message. Keeping alive Benten’s streak of sadism and yasaburou’s attraction as Uchouten Kazoku‘s secondary plot.