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  • Genre : Comedy, drama, supernatural, slice of life
  • Episodes: 13
  • Studio: P.A.Works

 

Yasaburo is a tanuki but too proud to be a mere tanuki, he admires tengu from afar and loves imitating humans and for that reason, his daily life is so dizzyingly busy, there’s no time to be bored However, as tanuki society is getting ready to choose their next leader, and the ghost of their departed father looms large over Yasaburo and his brothers, will the family be able to mend old wounds and defeat those plotting to have them boiled in a hot pot, or will their idiot blood finally bring them down. The fragile bonds that tie us to those we love most can be a painful burden or glorious salvation and sometimes, they can be both at once.

I should probably warn you right now, I have feelings about this show. Confused, frantic feelings I can’t entirely put into words. Something like a gentle ache. A squeeze of the heart. I think I’m about to cry but I just end up stretching, grinning a bit, staring out of windows all pensive like. The Eccentric Family spoke to my idiot blood and has left me a bit disheveled. I know for a fact that I can’t quite explain, but if you don’t mind putting up with me for a stretch, I’m going to try.

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thank you for your patience!

If I had to describe this anime in a single word, it would probably be quirky. A sort of casual absurdism permeates every aspect of the show, starting with the visuals. The backgrounds are simply stunning. Gorgeous, richly detailed watercolor depictions of Kyoto will make you long to visit the city.  Sumptuous and saturated colors pop out at you. It reminded me a bit of My Hero Academia in that regard and a lot of Tsuritama.

The character designs are unusual and striking. Because of the unconventional look of the characters, I have a feeling they are likely to be a love it or hate it sort of thing. I loved it myself, but I’ll admit the lack of detail in front facing characters took some getting use to. On the other hand, animation was exceptional, very fluid and stable while direction created some very interesting visuals through creative framing and playing with the perspective. We haven’t seen these types of visuals too frequently and they suit the story to a T. To a tea?

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In line with everything else, the voice acting is generally casual and somewhat irreverent, which I adore, with quick light banter between characters favored over deeply emotional delivery. I was particularly taken with the twins’ repartee and looked forward to their appearances in large part on the strength of the voice actor performances.

I also loved the soundtrack, which carried the brunt of the atmosphere. And then there’s the OP. I watched all 13 episodes in 3 sittings and let that intro play every single time. I even listen to it to the very end when it replayed over the final credits. How can I describe it? Oh I know:

 

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I loved this series. A lot. It’s up there with Humanity has Declined as a newly discovered favorite. And much like that series, it will NOT be for everyone.

As I was watching the show, one thing kept coming to mind – this is a Wes Andreson movie in anime series form. (No I haven’t seen Isle of Dogs and I won’t). It recalls Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums in it’s ironic and absurdist celebration of love and families and the glorious messes they create.

An affectionate depiction of dysfunction, it doesn’t shy away from showing how ridiculous and even harmful grand notions of loyalty and romance can be, yet ultimately how primordial. It calmly whispers that maybe, life and everything in it doesn’t really have a point and then gently tells us, that maybe it doesn’t need one.

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sometimes you just enjoy the party without knowing the occasion

Yasaburo and his family hurt each other unwittingly, they disappoint one another then agonize over their failings or push each other away. They fall in love with the wrong people. They comfort each other and sacrifice for one another. Sometimes they do things that don’t make sense, even to themselves. They are deeply flawed, and the story clearly loves them just as they are. There’s something almost personal it the casual tone of the show. Something that made me feel as though it was being told to me and only me, one on one in my comfy living room with a drink in hand.

Themes of death and loss reverberate throughout the narrative as the world seems stuck in an eternal autumn, events taking place against brilliant fall colours and scattered dead leaves. Water is ever present, from cold downpours to wild rainstorms.  From Benten’s childhood on the ocean front to the ever present Kamo river. People are constantly being thrown in water, floating along, boiled alive. Drowning their sorrows. Still waters run deep. Bridges get burned and mended. It’s all rather sad in the silliest way possible.

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in every life, a little rain must fall

However, this embrace of nonsense isn’t for everyone. Certain characters remain mostly wrapped in mystery and their actions can be difficult to gauge. Benten for instance is very capricious. Some people may have a hard time accepting her seemingly random behavior and be bothered by it. As a woman who doesn’t know what she wants myself, I recognized this character all too well.

Others could be put off by what can be perceived as a lack of closure. After all the adventures, and don’t let the slice of life label fool you, there is in fact quite a bit of action happening, the story seems to go back to square one with no true change in circumstance and only a little growth for the characters. This is also something that is recognizable for Anderson fans. A fondness for arrested development.

 In the end this is a deeply quirky coming of age dramedy with deep roots in family and forgiveness. It’s both grand, populated by yokai and magic and flying tearooms, exciting full of tram chases, daring escapes, betrayals and murders and yet ultimately, a very small story about a simple family trying to hold themselves together and move on after the untimely death of their patriarch, about growing up and growing old, and all the horror and wonders along the way.

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I honestly wish this would happen in most of my meetings

And, for 13 episodes, I felt like I was part of that family. It made me happy.

Favorite character: Just about EVERYONE…. That should tell you something

What this anime taught me: As long as it’s fun it’s good.

Booze may not be the answer but it’ll help you forget the question

Suggested drink: Idiot Box

  • Every time we see Yashiro’s tail – take a sip
  • Every time we see a tanuki transformation – clap
  • Every time we see alcohol – take a sip
    • if someone’s drinking – cheers
      • if someone’s drunk – put the glass down
  • Every time we see Soichiro – take a sip
  • Every time Benten laughs – get ready
  • Every time we see the twins – take a sip
  • Every time we see Prince – take a sip
  • Every time Sensei goes on a rant – take a sip
  • Every time anyone says tanuki – cheer!
  • Every time someone says hot pot – get a snack
  • Benten  is shown in profile – take a sip
  • Every time someone says ‘a frog in a well...’ – take a sip
  • Every time someone says nise-emon – stretch
  • Every time there is thunder – take a sip
  • Every time we see falling leaves or water – ponder

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30 thoughts on “The Best Families Are Always a Little Eccentric”

  1. I’ve been saving this review for when I could savor it. You did not disappoint. This has been one of my most loved shows from the moment I saw it. When the second season came out I went back and watched the first one over again before starting the second. Don’t wait too long (like, I dunno, four YEARS, ahem) because if you forget the intricate tangled web we weave you won’t be able to follow the second season. At least, I wasn’t. able to until I went back and marathoned the first – with pleasure. As always you did a grand job of putting into words the feelings I cannot describe. The closest I can come – Life is serious – but don’t take it too seriously.

    1. wow that was such a wonderful way to describe it in on line. Honesty thank you for that! I should just consult you for all future shows – seems you have impeccable tastes!

      1. I think we have very similar tastes – from Natsume on down. Basically every time I have made the time to watch something you really liked, I liked it, too and often you mention another anime I’ve watched and loved already so yeah – I think we’re just secret twins 😉

      1. Too OLD for Southern Comfort?? I don’t think that’s even a thing! … And I’m pretty sure I’m older than you!! (although, I can never tell in the internet. I just found out that one of my followers is 14 and I NEVER would have guessed!) 😂😂

  2. I really loved this show (or at least, season one of this show) as well! To be clear, I don’t think the second season was bad by any means, but as far as how it affected me on a person level goes, it just didn’t hold a candle to the first in that particular regard.

    1. I can understand, it seems unlikely o get that particularly lightning in a bottle twice. I’m looking forward to watching it

      1. Perhaps you’ll like it more since you’re (I assume) watching them quite close together? I do wonder if I would have liked season two a little more if I hadn’t watched it 4 years after the original.

  3. I really loved this show and Benten is such a fantastic character. Fairly inscrutable, but fantastic. I actually felt there was quite a bit of closure by the end of the series because it felt like the family had finally faced their grief together and come together even though there were plenty of other unresolved issues. Season 2 deals with some of these, but it is hardly necessary given this season just feels kind of perfect as it is with a shrug and an overall life goes on kind of attitude.

    1. That’s very well put. Mind you I’m just happy to get more of this in general. Beten’s gloriously unrepentant attitude and the shows refusal to punish her for it were just perfect. Strong, feminine, smart and lost. Gorgeous character.

  4. I was happy when I saw that crunchy got the first season finally. I still have yet to watch it, but it is on my short list to watch soon.

  5. It calmly whispers that maybe, life and everything in it doesn’t really have a point and then gently tells us, that maybe it doesn’t need one.

    Aww, how well put! A lovely post about my most favourite of all anime out there (as far as I’m capable of having a favourite one).

    The source is supposed to be a trilogy: two novels have been written (and the anime has a season 2, which is strong, too, but not quite on that level), and one is – as far as I know – pending. I hope they’ll do a season 3.

    And now I can’t get that opening out of my head:

    “Omoshirokunai yo no naka
    Omoshiroku surebe ii sa!”

    I don’t really even know how to talk about this show: it tears me into several directions all at once.

    1. Yes – that’s exactly what it does.
      I haven’t gotten to season 2 yet – I’m giving myself a little time to dwell but I will shortly.

  6. BenTen is a hindu/buddhist goddess, Sarisvati. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzaiten Her character is that. Tanuki and Inari are the two aspects of animal-people in the local Japanese animist religion, and a big part of children’s folk tales everybody learns on grampa’s knee. This makes the show instantly nostalgic, so it has a strong flavor that way, and is why the animation is so rich and detailed. The artists and director recognize this key point. That said, the overarching plot is kinda depressing.

    1. All the Friday Fellows are named after one of the Seven Lucky Gods, Most of them use their own names outside of the group. Benten? Her name’s Suzuki Satomi, but nobody calls her that.

      See, a lot of the show is quite sad. Depressing? Not for me. Quite the opposite, actually.

      1. Have you read any of the Dresden Files? They’re a well written example of that in a completely modern setting, including references to pop culture like Buffy and Potter.

          1. I recommend starting with the third one, which the author also recommends. His first two aren’t very well written, but he gets better with each, and the third on are good and well written stories about a detective in Chicago who happens to be a wizard. I wrote a review of it on my blog here.

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