Embracing your fool’s blood: season 2
As you may or may not have noticed, Metanorn was down for the past week or so. This means our posting schedule is out of whack since second and third episodes are airing and we still haven’t had a chance to post our “first impressions” posts. To stay on track, I’m dumping two episodes into this “extended first impressions.”
He even gets his own spotlight as the sketchy tengu stick to the shadows
Don’t ask me about the details of season 1, because I don’t have the foggiest recollection of what actually happened. All I remember is one dude was a frog for a while and that tanuki hot pot was a thing. That’s about it. What really stuck with me were the witty conversations and the visuals. Even after several years, I can vividly picture Benten effortlessly weaving through the branches of a sakura tree in full bloom and smiling coyly at Yasaburo. All the imagery comes rushing back to me without context for how and when we arrived at that point, like recalling parts of a dream. I actually ended up liking the show a hell of a lot more after the fact, because months after it had aired and I realized I was still thinking about it.
The second season continues that tradition of bizarre yet striking imagery. Things start rolling when Yasuburo and Yasahiro go hunting for tsuchinoko and end up being rained on by both furniture and unruly tengu. I had forgotten how tricky these tanuki can be, and we see Yasuburo pulling a bunch of cool transformations and bluffs here. While Yasuburo is able to put these gangster tengu on the ropes with his talents, he has less success tricking the newly introduced Nidaime.
It doesn’t take much talent to recognize that a massive white elephant in the mountains of Japan must be a fake, but he reveals more skill by calling out Yasuburo’s half-hearted Akadama impression. Then again, maybe that’s not worthy of much praise either. As if he’d expect his father to greet him with open arms after all this time, reeking of tanuki and sporting a tail. That’s a big giveaway.
So the real tip-off, I feel, that this guy is one of the sharpest around is his total paranoia about Yasuburo. He won’t let him carry out any favours empty-handed, because he’s expected Yasuburo to twist things around and somehow get a bigger favour in return out of it. Most characters in this show tend to have at least one fatal flaw, but Nidaime has yet to reveal that weakness. In fact, his flaw may be that he tries too hard to stay ahead of others. For now, he’s a clever, calculated gentleman in a pristine white suit with a penchant for coming out on top of every conversation he holds. This should be an interesting addition to the cast, and a fun new problem for everyone in the tanuki family to tackle.
PUT THAT THING AWAY
Carrying on the theme of Yasuburo meeting his match, yet another new character is here to make his life a living hell! I’ve always loved seeing Yasuburo – a trickster by nature – get bested by others. This makes him a much more likeable character, as it exposes a more “human” side. He’s not some tanuki Orihara Izaya (Durarara!!) who outwits everyone with skilled precision. Yasuburo is still immature and rash, so he fails. And this time, he really fails. That is, unless you consider being hypnotized to ravage a shopping arcade as a bear to be particularly auspicious.
The (other) new guy here is Tenmanya – a human(???) who escaped from hell and spends his time messing with people for fun. It starts off innocently enough though. He builds a ramen shop atop of a building, breaking zoning laws and probably health code violations based on the brief shot we get of his purple soup stock. It’s not hurting anyone, but it’s tricky. Then he does some mildly irritating things, such as summoning wayyy too many paper lanterns at a party.
It becomes clear at the end of the episode that he’s not just some kook who was kicked out of the tanuki-eating club, but a truly dangerous man. He nearly gets Yasuburo shot twice. The first time is with hypnosis in his bear form. Then, Yasuburo tries to find out his weakness in order to seek revenge for the bear incident, but he ends up staring down the barrel of a gun yet again. Even when you target Tenmanya’s weak spots, he’s ready for ya!
I really like the imagery in this show, and I’m actually leaving some stuff out to see if it’s built upon more for a post next week. But for now, I can rant and rave about how much I like this show and what it’s doing. Yasuburo is a great lead because he’s foolish, but he embraces that foolishness and runs with it. He’s a flawed trickster, and a cute little furball to boot. What’s not to love about a rascal like him? His antics are surrounded by a strong cast, and I’m excited to see them all back in action. Yes, even Ginkaku and Kinkaku!
Now, all we need is more Benten-sama…
frog dude is pretty cool too