Uchouten Kazoku – 08

Surreal

Don’t get your tanuki drunk on port wine

spring13-highwAs 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?

Sou and Yajirou

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.

The Eizan Dentetsu

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.

Crying frog

How much are dew, and how much are tears?

Perspective is a Malleable Thing

Where is this

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.

Aniki

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.

header-spr13-highway

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.

Perspective

It took me a second to realize the brilliance of this shot

About

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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11 Responses to “Uchouten Kazoku – 08”

  1. BlackBriar says:

    This was the best episode yet. I loved the raw emotion each of the seiyuus gave their character especially in regard to how each of them of Souichirou. Souichirou was amazing because despite knowing his inevitible end, he was ready to embrace it with open arms. Yaichiro is currently conflicted but I think he’ll use his pain to make himself a candidate when he takes over his father’s place. As for Yajiro, someone should tell him there’s still room for forgiveness.

    • Highway says:

      I went back to the 2nd episode to look at the first appearance of The Black Prince, when Yasaburou was talking to Mother about going to see Yajirou. After seeing this episode, her words then seem a lot more poignant, and the light joking that accompanied them showed genuine concern, things like “See that he’s still alive for me” and on the subject of her visiting him “I don’t think he’d like that.” She definitely loves all of her sons, and has already forgiven Yajirou. He just hasn’t forgiven himself.

  2. Kyokai says:

    This was the most emotional episode of this series and indeed I teared up too. I love Tomihiko Morimi’s work just because of these FEEEELS, which are over-abundant yet never really superfluous. The family connection and how they understand each other, even when they are so different is wonderful.

  3. HannoX says:

    I suspect that Souichirou’s plan to keep his sons together may have been his death. He knew that because of their love for their mother they would stay with her when he was gone. Even Yajiro has not completely left her as the well is nearby. Certainly he’s closer to her than he would be if he had left as he had planned. And there is always the chance he could return when he learns to forgive himself.

    We still don’t know how much of a role Benten played in Souichirou’s death. Did she merely partake in the nabe or did she supply the main ingredient? I think that is something that will be revealed in a future episode.

    I hope next episode we finally get to see Kaisei in human form.

    • Highway says:

      He’s also much closer to the family than he would have been if he left because he was in love with his younger brother’s betrothed. I think Sou realized more than just physically leaving, that could be the splinter that could fester and eventually cause more of a problem. But it certainly seems that after what happened, Yajirou is no longer interested in Kaisei, nor is she betrothed to Yasaburou anymore.

      I think Sou recognized that the plan he had to reunite the larger family that was split when he and his brother Soun fell out was a far greater danger to his own family. But I’d also imagine that no matter how much Soun hated him, there was no way that Sou could just break the engagement without serious repercussions.

  4. Mint says:

    For a show so strange and surreal the characters and their relationships are so believable that it hurts. The bgm during the flashbacks was really good, I blame that for being the tipping point before I started crying… why do shows about family always do this to me….

    • Kyokai says:

      Same here, Mint-chan. I guess this resonates with us because family’s very close to our hearts? Though, the unique bond the siblings share is something I’d've love to have.

    • Highway says:

      For me, family isn’t really what it is. It’s the humanity of it, the caring that people can show for each other. Family, to me, is an accident, random chance. (I’ve probably said it before, but I have very little bond with my brother, no interests in common with him, and almost never talk to him – perhaps 2 years ago was the most recent time.) But caring for others is universal, whether they’re family or not. One needn’t share common recent ancestors to love another, or to show care for another, or to feel a bond to someone.

  5. Riktol says:

    I’ve realised that the plot and/or narative structure reminds me of Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
    Which worries me because apparently I didn’t manage to overwrite all my memories of english lit with physics, D&D and anime.
    But seriously, the whole retelling the same events from a different perspective and slowly bringing new facts to light is really similar.
    I’ll now take the liberty of not writing an essay on the subject.
    Ah, bliss.

  6. Gecko says:

    Oh this episode… All of the feelings, all of the elements that have proved this show to be great were all there. I was worried something was going to be off, but it was perfect. Even though this show has been really good about not flashing back to previous parts of the episode, the way they handled it was great, just as visual shots in Yasaburo’s memory, and not so much talking. I didn’t mind it at all.

  7. AllenAndArth says:

    this episode was the best episode in the entire season of all shows, the scene with Souichirou when he goes to the light, broke me, but, the one where Yajirou loses the will to leave, just…”It’s over 9000″ i almost cried… manly tears, it was a sad but brilliant episode, it made me remember Clannad…when the daughter dies

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