Uchouten Kazoku – 06

beautiful forest

Supreme beauty, yet with sadness

 

spring13-highwI don’t know if we’ve gotten a direct continuation from one episode to the following one in this series before, but this episode picked up right at the end of the last, with Benten and Yasaburou up on the rooftops. So what happens when they are joined by Hotei?

 Spare a Thought for the Lovelorn?

Not really interested in company

Benten’s not really interested in company, but she allows them to come along

Benten is quite the heartbreaker. She’s certainly the most unique person in the world of Uchouten Kazoku, a human taught the ways of Tengu, a beautiful woman who lives according to her own whim. And who knows how many people are in love with her? We now know that at least two are: Hotei and Yasaburou, although Yasaburou I think more rightly describes his as a crush. Yet that crush keeps him in her sphere, even when she is angry at him, even when she threatens him mortally, that he shall be dinner. In a way, I think that Hotei and Yasaburou’s conversation was a commiseration between two people who love the same unreachable person, even though they hardly talk about Benten. It was ‘get to know someone who loves the same person you do.’

keeping her distance

Almost as if the light is separating them

But as strong as Benten is, she seems to be far from immune to that force of love. She’s dropped hints about how much she likes Yasaburou, so much that she wants to eat him, but we see her far more conflicted here, warning him away, leaving him and Hotei behind, and then alone, silently crying into a well. And not just any well, but one well known as a place for offloading feelings and troubles, and not for the first time. Does she feel that falling into love is a weakness, something that she seems to be unable to abide? Is it too much of an opening, giving another control that she has worked so hard to wrest from the rest of the world?

Always Connections

Yodagawa and Souichirou

Diner and Dinner

We also see, again, the supreme circularity of this series. We already knew that Hotei is the same man, Yodagawa who saved Mother Shimogamo in the past, and had deduced that he was one who ate Souichirou. But as always, the story is filled in, with perhaps a hallucination, perhaps reality, that he was the last person who talked to Souichirou prior to his demise. And as I suspected, the death of Souichirou was far from a tragedy, from his standpoint. He felt he had accomplished what his life was about. Whether his motivation was just to be that final step in the circle of life, or whether it was to save some other tanuki from being the year’s feast, or whether he didn’t have any other reason, he was content with it. And his final request? To make sure that he didn’t taste bad.

But as Yodagawa says, it’s the responsibility of the eater to make sure the eaten is delicious. And an important responsibility it is. As someone who has eaten anything he can find everywhere he can go, he views being in that position as one of love, love for the things to be eaten. And love demands respect, so he finds an inherent contradiction in loving to eat things, and yet loving the things to be eaten.

Yodagawa and Yasaburou

Two people sharing stories and philosophy

I find the act of Yasaburou sharing onigiri with Yodagawa interesting, as that’s now the 3rd Shimogamo that has both recognized Yodagawa as the human who helped Mother and eaten his onigiri. And once again, Kaisei appears where least expected, as a ladder for Yasaburou and Yodagawa to climb down. She must be watching Yasaburou far more than is known, and I start to wonder her feelings, since she must see how he looks to Benten. But how much of Yasaburou’s crush on Benten is the person she used to be, the one that he himself recognizes is no longer the person she is?

Spirited Away

How much she’s changed since being grabbed from the shoreline

header-spr13-highway

Again, we’re treated to very interesting stories, set in a beautiful world. The wreathing of the forest in smoke from Benten’s cigar was masterful, as well as the amount of standoffishness it implied. And just to be near these people as they talk to each other, with Yodagawa and Yasaburou talking almost as equals, with Yajirou and Yasaburou looking up at Benten crying silently down at them, we are drawn into their world yet again.

Just frogs in a well crying alone

What is the reason?

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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 – 06”

  1. CarVac says:

    I love the art for the frogs. So…content-looking…

    • BlackBriar says:

      I think frogs rarely change their expressions.

    • Highway says:

      The frogs fit the style of the show perfectly, both in art and in acting. Yajirou’s voice is so calm, no matter what, and even in some turmoil like he was, Yasaburou was quite calm as a frog.

  2. skylion says:

    I think Yasaburou should leg it back to Osaka….

  3. yozorakashiwazaki says:

    I found it creepy that an old man like hotei is in love with benten and even follows her without invitation like a horny dog… ughh

    • BlackBriar says:

      It’s unsightly but it’s also something to expect in the world of anime. Never forget the dirty old man stereotype.

    • Highway says:

      I don’t think its really that creepy, and I don’t think that Yodagawa is that old, really. Maybe mid-40′s at the oldest? I would guess Benten is somewhere around 25? Yes, it wouldn’t be the most conventional of romances, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Especially with the way Benten carries herself, she really is not a match for anyone who would be of her own age.

      Yakushibou fits far more into the ‘dirty old man’ stereotype than Yodagawa. To me, Yodagawa is just ‘smitten’.

      • edo says:

        Hotei is 40-50 and almost bald… ugh creepy for a middle age like benten.He has that “I rape little girls” written all over his face.

  4. BlackBriar says:

    The more I watch this the more I feel Yasaburou and Benten could make a nice couple. It’s a shame there a circumstances in the way of it happening though in a way, that’s pairing up the hunter and her prey.

    I know Benten got a Tengu education after being abducted and rose to the top but I want to know how she’s able to fly without wings. She makes the other Tengu look like they have wings as nothing more than accessories.

    To be calm about being eaten and worrying about not tasting good and ruining the appetites of those eating. I’ve got to say, these are some masochistic characters here.

    Yasaburou’s awkward appearance around Hotei is understandable. Yeah, it’s a wonder to eat so many things but it would be a bust if you were to be eaten since it’s your life that’s ending for the pleasure of another. It makes you think about how consciously humans are prepared to take the lives of animals to sustain themselves but they never consider that their lives could be taken in the same way. They have no natural enemies. The species would certainly begin to understand the feelings of the lower life forms if there was another class of being higher on the food chain. Thoughts like these are what makes a person re-evaluate themselves.

    • AllenAndArth says:

      i think…that it would be pretty awkward, to talk about eating with a guy that literally ATE my father

    • Highway says:

      Given the way they are depicted flying, Tengu wings are little more than decoration. They fly because they fly, not because of physically being held up by those wings.

      If Yasaburou and Benten ended up together, it wouldn’t be as ‘hunter and prey’. And that’s, I think, why Benten is so aloof about it. I’m starting to think she actually is very in love with Yasaburou, but being in love with him is far too outside of who she is being that it’s incompatible. So the only thing she can do is keep him at arms length with the threat of eating him.

      I think the big departure from our comfort zone here is the thought that something to be eaten was sentient. There can be argument about some higher mammals, like dolphins and whales, but most don’t eat them anyway. The thing here is that tanuki generally wouldn’t be thought of as sentient… yet in this show they are (and anthropomorphic). The dilemma of what lower animals on the food chain think is only a question when the lower animals are sentient, in my opinion, a situation which hasn’t arisen for me.

  5. AllenAndArth says:

    this episode was stunning and splendid
    Benten’s scene with the cigar shock me to the core
    and
    Keisei is a pretty good, but, stalk-y fiance

    • Highway says:

      I don’t know about Kaisei being ‘stalky’, but she’s certainly always around when Yasaburou needs help. She’s far more drawn to him than one might think. I wonder if she’s got the same sort of shyness that the Chief from Servant x Service does, as she has no problem appearing as other objects, just as herself.

  6. Gecko says:

    The direct continuation of this episode makes me wonder if this month/season before the end of the year is going to pass slowly, or if it just happened to be that this night would be a good way to keep up the circularity of the series and of the stories, while Yasaborou is still with Hotei.

    All of the little details in the backgrounds are so pleasing. The rooftop jumping, the leaves, it’s all great and it helps to pull us into that Kyoto. (I love rooftop scenes, especially with the jumping.) Even the unsightly faces behind Ginkaku and Kinkaku were interesting, as they matched Yasabouro’s thought of how the Nise-emon election is “unsightly.”

    Hotei did a good job of making things uncomfortable, but that must be the sentiment in Yasaborou and the tanuki have when they think of the Friday Fellows’ tanuki hot pot.

    Kasei is really ‘shaping’ herself up to be a caring type, compared to the cold Benten.

    • Highway says:

      The Ebisugawa supporters are a mystery to me, I don’t quite get what those masks are and if those are actually all real people / tanuki. They almost seem like fake people, supporting the ‘bad’ characters.

      The thing is, I think if Yasaburou ran for Nise-emon, he’d probably win outright, because he carries that same easy likable quality that his father did. Not trying to hard like Yaichirou, not overly stuffy like Sooun.

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