Uchouten Kazoku – 03

There's something between these two

When Benten says “goran nasai”, you pretty much have to look.

spring13-highwI mentioned to someone else that, for some reason, Uchouten Kazoku slips my mind when I talk about this season’s anime. And this is strange, because it’s really captivating in a way that no other anime this season is. I ended up blaming the schedule, in that I watch it Sunday, write about it on Monday, and then it’s not one that I have to wait to look forward to, coming at the ‘end’ of my anime week. But it certainly deserves better than to be “Oh yeah, I also like Uchouten Kazoku”. So how was this week’s episode?

Nearly Constant Exposition

 Paying respects

Tengu and Tanuki telling tales

This is one of the things I am enjoying most about Uchouten Kazoku. It’s always taking the opportunity, any opportunity, to be providing exposition about the world of the Tanuki and Tengu. From showing us the petty maliciousness of Kinkaku and Ginkaku Ebisugawa last week to the yearly happening of the Gozan Fire Festival, where the tanuki all launch flying craft to party in the skies. And while there’s a story in setting up for that that begins with Yaichirou failing to find a suitable craft and asking Yasuburou for help and ends with Benten taking a grab at a whale’s tail, they take even more time to tell us more about things like Yasuburou’s broken-off arranged marriage to Kaisei Ebisugawa, which Uncle Ebisugawa broke off apparently as soon as they could after their father’s death, infuriating Mother Shimogamo, and Adakawa-Sensei’s history, as the mountain that he formerly led is now overrun with Kurama Tengu, a group that seems to be in league with the Friday Fellows as well as Benten.

The Man, The Mountain, The Myth

The Menacing Mountain

We also get more stories of Father Shimogamo, who apparently played a huge (literally) trick on the Kurama tengu, transforming into the whole mountain and getting the better of them. It’s this kind of storytelling that keeps the show engrossing, with intertwined threads all moving at their own pace, slowly giving us all a picture of this strange and fantastical world that they are living in. It never feels like an infodump or like a character just talking to the camera. It’s always blocked and set in such a way that it’s more of a peek, a glimpse into this world, with interesting people sharing stories and histories, like you’re a fly on the wall, or a guest at a dinner party with other interesting guests.

The Power of Magic

Taking a flier

Some don’t need a tea room to fly

Another thing this episode reinforces is the force of magic within this world. From flying ships and tea rooms to tanuki transforming into everything from frogs to maneki-neko to giant mountains, the powers of illusion and magic are central to this story, yet where they are leading we still don’t know. But something that becomes more obvious with every episode is the fairly overwhelming strength of Benten’s magic. She’s supposed to be a human, so the question I find myself asking is was she magical before, or is this something she learned (or perhaps even took?) from Yakushibou? Or is this a latent force in most humans, and most of us just don’t know it, and can’t use it. Either way, she is a force to be reckoned with, seemingly conjuring a whole world to sun herself in next to a clock tower, or to wait for whales to show up to play with. And who is there to tell her no? It certainly strikes fear in the tanuki, whose magic is limited to the illusory. And yet it provides us with a beautiful setting for this story.

Pulling a whale tail

Maybe Superman could pull on a whale’s tail too. Also (possibly NSFW) Show ▼


There’s so much more that this story is going to get to, I think, from things like why Kaisei and Yasaburou have never even met face-to-face despite being cousins and betrothed to things like what is Yasaburou’s true feeling for Benten. He certainly seemed smitten in their first meeting, does he still feel that way, and what does she feel for him? I think the most important thing, really, is that this story is taking its time. Coming from last season’s offering from PA Works, Red Data Girl, it seems dead set on not making the same problems, primarily trying to cram too much stuff into the show.


Static it’s pretty, animated it was tremendous

And speaking of PA Works, while this show doesn’t exactly match the style of most of their other shows (if you want gorgeous skies, look at the skies in Tari Tari, when Wakana is visiting her mother’s grave), it is instead giving us brilliant visuals in a different style. I was captivated by the waterfall in the background as Yasaburou conversed on the bridge, complete with fish ladder. And the flying tea room over Kyoto was gorgeous. Even if the style is different, the quality is still top notch.


Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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16 Responses to “Uchouten Kazoku – 03”

  1. T.K. says:

    There’s a certain charm to this show that others lack in this season (or maybe it’s just Noto-sama), and I’m really happy that PA Works is adapting it. Not sure if success on par with The Tatami Galaxy is going to be emulated, but with such an interesting character roster, it will be damn close.

  2. KLACMAN says:

    well now i just add in this to my watching list yea it hook me in to watch.

    cause mostly watching this for mam noto’s ben10 on it.

    • BlackBriar says:

      It’s funny how Benten’s name can unintentionally make you think of Ben 10.

  3. skylion says:

    You did great on reviewing the show and getting to how I feel about it’s place in my viewing habits..It shouldn’t be a….ah, yes, I like this one, too.

    Captivating. When I can laugh, not at, but with, Benten catching the whale, then the show is doing something right, no something awesome. I felt like I was right there with her.

    So who or what is she. I think she might be special among humans, a sorceress of sorts. Does she take what folk or places no longer need? Flying when an old man doesn’t want it anymore, or a Venitian block, submerged and lost.

    It reminds me of something the good Doctor said about humans, The Daleks are dangerous, yes, but humans are even more so.

  4. ronbb says:

    This is one of the shows that I most look forward to each week. I am simply drawn to the characters. Everything about them feels so real — their interactions, their conversations, their thoughts, their feelings — making it so easy to get into the story and their lives. I don’t care if there is a bigger plot behind everything. Just seeing these characters live their lives, hearing their thoughts and feeling their deep bonds towards one another is interesting enough for me.

    • Highway says:

      This might actually be why PA Works is perfect for this show. Too many times, they’ve been labeled as a studio that doesn’t really carry off the big plot. And maybe they’ll get hung with that label again for this show, but that’s kind of the point of the show. Why does there have to be a big plot? Why can’t it just be about learning about these lives? It’s extremely interesting, and I think some people miss that looking for the big story.

  5. Gecko says:

    This world is so engrossing. I love the exposition element, because it really shows us the world these people live in, and how they fit into it. You hit the nail on the head. I usually go after the plot shows, but this is one where I don’t mind the lack of plot. Probably because of the characters and the magical sense of this world.

    Benten seems to be rather special among the humans. My guess for now is that she has some sort of magic and she knows how to use it pretty well. I’m not expecting to know everything by the end of this show, though. And that’s fine, because what it’s giving right now is satisfying enough.

    • BlackBriar says:

      Compared to last season’s Red Data Girl, Uchouten Kazoku has that something RDG was missing: A plot that isn’t hard to follow.

      • Highway says:

        Not that I’m trying to be too braggy, but I thought the plot was good in RDG, and not too difficult. However, it was mostly told to us (which a lot of people don’t care for), and it went through a lot in a very short period of time. In contrast, Uchouten Kazoku definitely is taking a slower pace, and at this point doesn’t really have what I’d call a ‘plot’ even. It’s very similar to Shin Sekai Yori in that respect, where we see people do things, but the point of seeing them do things is to learn about them, not the things they’re doing.

        • ronbb says:

          @Highway: very well said. One of the strengths in SSY and Uchouten Kazoku is how both shows get their audience familiarized — if not to connect with — the characters first before introducing any plot. In my opinion, be it a plot-driven tale, a character-focused story or, like Uchouten Kazoku, a slice-of-life show, characters are very important in engaging the hearts of the viewers — it’s the tipping point for making a show stick. If I can’t make myself care for the characters, it’s doesn’t really matter even when a show comes with an epic or intricately woven plot packed with tons of twists — it may be exciting but definitely not engaging.

  6. BlackBriar says:

    The show sure lives up to its name “Uchouten Kazoku” which is Japanese for “The Eccentric Family”. The characters are just so carefree with what they do.

    The show is developing a habit of reminding me to suspend my belief because these are supernatural creatures here. I was baffled that a little tanuki could imitate a mountain side or that a woman would willingly jump into the water naked to hold onto a whale’s tail.

    At first I asked if people wouldn’t notice the flying ships but I guess it’s either the humans think they are props or the tanukis are using some magic spell to stay under the radar.

    Yasaburou is nonchalantly close to Benten. He should be more wary.

    • Highway says:

      I think that Yasaburou is more aware than anyone of the true nature of Benten, and that gets him a ton of her respect. He’s known her the longest of anyone, save Yakushibou, he’s probably had more interaction with her than anyone else, and while he knows of her repeated threats of nabe, he’s also confident he will not become an ingredient. Some have posited that he is in love with her, although I don’t know if it’s as much love as a ‘old flame’, and I think she’s got at least some of it with him as well.

      The tanuki are masters of illusion, so it wouldn’t surprise me that they just figure out a way to disappear the leisure craft.

      • BlackBriar says:

        So he enjoys flirting with his supposed enemy. Well, with someone cute like her, I can’t say I blame him but he should still be careful.

  7. lvlln says:

    This show is just too darn fun. Every week we see something surprising. A tanuki transforming into a mountain? No wonder their father had such a reputation. Really liking PA Works’s production work too. That scene in the sea with Benten was gorgeous, in concept and execution.

  8. AllenAndArth says:

    it’s a lighthearted show that, no matter the genre you like the most,UK just catches, bentenXyasaburou sexual tension is every time they meet… it has a charm
    mountain prank?IT’S OVER 9000!
    this episode was really good in my opinion, it revealed a lot…and the frog…

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