Families come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of furriness.
I wrote my episode 7 post before Anime North…and then forgot to post it. OOPS. So here’s another 2-for-1 deal.
Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t invest any energy thinking about Soun’s return (mostly because I completely forgot who he was, my only clue being his trademark Ebisugawa jaundiced eye bags). It turns out he’d die in the next episode anyways. He doesn’t just die quietly though, he dies in a humiliating fashion in front of a tanuki he’s tried to kill several times. The whole ordeal is very unfortunate. It feels like we’re supposed to feel bad for Soun’s death, as Yasaburo is quite sombre as he breathes his last breaths.
Meanwhile, I’m sitting over here like “BREAK OUT THE CHAMPAGNE, THE BAD GUY IS DEAD!!!”.
I get why it’s supposed to be a sad moment, and that Yasaburo never wanted his revenge to extend so far that it would actually kill Soun. However, I still don’t buy it since the guy is such an irredeemable asshole. Why should I feel bad for someone like that? Just because at the very end he was pitiful? Still, it’s interesting to look at the arc of his life in retrospective now that he’s gone.
Soun got kicked out of tanuki society (rightfully so, because murder is kind of a no-no), and this clearly affected him deeply. You have to feel pretty wretched to resort to cannibalism. On top of that is the constant feeling of having to compensate for his inadequacies. He murdered Yasaburo’s father because of jealousy, as he felt it was the only way to get what he wanted. To now have Yasburo snub him anyways despite all his scheming is the greatest insult. He turns into a literal monster in his final moments and is remembered as being a spiteful, horrible beast. Even his own kids apologize in the next episode for how awful he was. I see that this episode was trying to redeem him by having him get dunked on SO HARD that you just start to feel bad. However, I enjoyed his pitiful death, as it was the perfect way for a menacing villain to go out. Yasaburo may not be happy with this “revenge” but I am.
Soun’s death aside, my favourite part was the dinner party banter. It had all sorts of ups, downs, super awkward moments, and internal politics at work. I liked when Soun brought out his prized Dragon Palace pebble, everyone had to lean wayyy in just to see it’s “magic” of producing like 2 water droplets. Wow…how…amazing…it’s like an inefficient tap…which I have in my house already…Anyways, it was so clear from everyone’s body language and the way the shot had to zoom all the fuck in on that rock just to show the water that it was an awful gift. To make matters worse, he only gave away ONE rock. He had like a dozen of ’em in his jar. Even Benten, a lady who could manipulate the tides to go up or down based on her mood, was forthright enough to hand over her entire bag of collected oni horns.
I think I know which gift I’d pick.
It was also funny how the other members tried to desperately lighten the mood when things got crazy. It was such a rollercoaster of a dinner, to the point where Yasaburo being invited to eat tanuki became just a regular part of the story. It just happened. I have no idea where he’ll proceed from here now that he’s part of the club, but I don’t think he’ll ever agree to actually eat any of his buddies (no matter how good the seasoning). This could be a clever way to bring them down from within though. As per usual, I have no idea what Benten was thinking with her sudden plan to induct Yasaburo into the tanuki hot pot club. As per usual, again, it’s probably just a whim and there’s no actual plan. She just likes to stir the pot and see what happens afterwards.
With Soun out of the picture, I expected the Ebisugawas to be a lot more fragile. On the contrary, things are better than ever. They actually use his death as an opportunity to bond with the Shimogano family. This is yet another reason I’m glad Soun kicked the bucket. Now these guys can be friends! Of course, I doubt Ginkaku and Kinkaku will stay docile for long given how much they love to tease Yasaburo (and anyone they can manage to get the jump on). I’m sure their pact can withstand a few friendly jabs though, as their rivalry is nothing but playfighting.
It’s still a little weird just how much Soun’s death fixed everything. It evens the score for killing big tanuki papa and now the two families are working together. Yaichiro will marry Gyokuran and help strengthen this union, Yashiro was given his own lab to help with the Denki Bran production process (and have fun being a mad scientist), and Yajirou is going on a fun journey because that’s what hipsters like him do. All is well…except for Yasaburo.
It’s a little sad that Kaisei – who is in mourning for her father’s death – has to be the one to cheer up Yasaburo. I’m still not entirely sure why he’s so frustrated with his situation, to the point of hiding in the woods. He starts acting odd even before Yaichiro suggests that he should marry Kaisei after all and that Yajirou is going on a journey. My guess is that Yasaburo struggles with things he can’t control. In any situation where he gets outsmarted, he immediately tries to seek revenge and play a trick on the opposing party in return. But there are some situations where he can’t retaliate, and he’s left just watching things play out. He went through a flurry of huge changes in a short period of time: Soun died, his brother is getting married, Yajirou is leaving, and Benten is focused on other men. He’s at the centre of all this, and yet he can’t do anything about it. It’s like he’s the only one who doesn’t want to grow up and find a place within the family. Even the pint-sized Yashiro is pulling his weight while Yasaburo lazes about! Laziness has always been a part of his character, but now that everyone’s moving on with their lives except him, he feels left out. How can an aimless tanuki who indulges in cheap tricks relate to tanuki who are seriously planning for the future of their entire clan?
Yasaburo usually slips out of every situation okay, so it’s interesting to see him finally punished for his lack of motivation. Perhaps he’s on the cusp of changing too, and that scares him. Going to the forest to think is a bit of an odd way to sort things out, but I guess when you’re not at thinking you need more time. The most obvious ending would be that he’d end up with Kaisei. Whereas Benten stands out in a crowd, Kaisei is always expertly hidden. But somehow, when she’s revealed, that makes his heart race enough to lose his transformation. That’s not something I expected, even though they cleverly hinted at it earlier with Yasaburo gloating “oh, nothing undoes my transformation!”.
I really liked how heart-warming this episode was. The family-focused stories are the most effective. Although eccentric, they’re in a loving and supportive environment as opposed to the usual sob story or “my parents are away for work so I never see them” thing. It’s sweet. Let’s hope that for the next episode I have more time to blog about it!