Don’t get your tanuki drunk on port wine
As I’ve touched on before, Uchouten Kazoku has a wonderful quality of adding to stories. And the additions are always welcome, always told in that same manner of being present at a conversation. And sometimes the stories take quite the turn, and what you thought was the whole thing before turns out to not be the whole thing.
Is It Really What It Seems?
As usual, the atmosphere is perfect
I was surprised by the reprise of the end of last episode, with Yajirou admitting (again) that his last memory of Souichirou was being drunk with him. But that (of course) isn’t the whole story. And we learn that Sou’s (as his wife called him) “important appointment” was with Yajirou, for life counseling. To convince him to not run away from the family just because he was in love with someone who he could never be with: Yasaburou’s betrothed Kaisei. And while Yajirou is portrayed as mostly a screwup, I think he’s actually not bad here in this situation. It’s unlikely he wanted to fall in love with someone he couldn’t be with (and we don’t know now what Kaisei’s opinion on the matter was, I really hope we find out eventually), but “shikata ga nai.” But Sou’s biggest worry in the world was that his family would break apart, and he was going to try to work something out.
It’s not supposed to be a trolley car
But in the meantime, let’s get drunk and play pranks on the humans! The depiction of Yajirou shapeshifting into a DEO 600 of the Eizan Dentetsu with his father aboard was at once hilarious and bittersweet, because it was a shared activity that, because of the story, you knew was a fateful one. And while there weren’t any accidents or anything, it was the last ride they shared (and even the last time Yajirou transformed into anything but a human or frog). And he feels like a failure even as a tanuki, not even just useless, he actively harmed their father. So he’s locked himself away, figuratively and literally as a frog in a well.
How much are dew, and how much are tears?
Perspective is a Malleable Thing
Once again the melding of real and not-so-real
A beauty of this show is the different perspectives that it gives us. Yajirou may feel that he was the last to see Sou, but Yakushibou has a different opinion. And besides the perspective that all must fall at some point in life, whether it’s through the roof of a human’s house like a Tengu or into nabe like a Tanuki, he offers a perspective of seeing Souichirou different from Yajirou’s. I think it’s purposefully unclear where exactly Yakushibou and Souichirou’s conversation was held, and when, but the impression I got was that Souichirou had already passed on. And yet, they had a lovely farewell conversation, sharing a drink and asking one last favor: look after Yasaburou.
Mother always knew
And for a final perspective, Yasaburou returns home to talk to Mother. And the secret that he thought he’d just found out, the one that would be terrible for her to know, that Yajirou is too ashamed to face her about… she’s known all along: Yajirou’s heartache, Sou’s “appointment”, and Sou’s demise. And she still loves and understands Yajirou, just like all of the rest of her family. And Yasaburou realizes that there are two things that have held the family together, in the face of a threat (not really the word I want to use, but nothing else seems to work either) that could tear it apart: Their mother’s love and their father’s death.
I generally watch a show three or more times when I write about it: once to watch it, a second time as I’m writing the post, and a third time for screenshots. So this week, I’ve cried through the end of this show 3 times, but it’s really not that it’s sad. Much like Tamayura, which makes me at least tear up every episode, it’s the caring and love that this show exhibits that bring the tears. And this show is not afraid to do what it takes to be emotional, whether that’s tears, quiet, excitement, pain, or happiness. The brilliant scene of Yasaburou walking alongside the rickshaw with Yakushibou inside, from one side of the screen to the other, taking its time, setting the mood. Or the upside-down view of the stream as Yajirou loses the will to live. And even the scene as Souichirou runs into the light. It’s not that it’s doing anything melodramatic. It’s just showing us life, a beautiful life, even a bit of a surreal life. But never so surreal that it’s unrelatable, just wonderfully fantastic and omoshiroi.
It took me a second to realize the brilliance of this shot