Uchouten Kazoku ep2 & 3: our father was, our mother is; tengu were, humans are
It seems that the tanuki society is a one of rivals. And one of strong family bonds. And very unfortunately, a society that has to live with the fact that they’re low on the food chain. How would you feel if you had to live someplace where your neighbors might consider you an easy meal?
Ah! What a hoax! That endearing final scene from the last episode was merely our main protagonist dressing up again. Still you could see the love in that opening scene as he allowed his pervy broken master to grope him in his sleep. Ew!
The story moves forward from there, as the next day we see a dashing… lady? No! The bartender calls this person Prince. Regardless, a dashing young fellow (“STAR DRIVER!”) bursts in with a cute young girl and starts playing pool. Surprise! The Prince is Yashi- Yashibor – hold on, I have to look up this name again. It’s Yasaburo’s mother in disguise as the prince, and Yasaburo himself cross-dressing again as the cute young girl. He convinces her to drop her act for a moment as they talk, and she talks to him about his previous day, and the danger of hanging around Benten and her dangerous friends. She warns him, probably for the hundred thousandth time to stay away from humans. Their convo ends with him saying he’s going to visit one of his brothers… the one stuck in a well. Man, this is getting more crazy by the moment.
Yasaburo heads to a well, where his second oldest brother now resides. The poor guy is kinda stuck down there, playing God of the Well. It appears that he’s stayed in the form of a frog for so long, that he can’t change back. I didn’t even know that was a thing. It lends some credence to the old myth that if you hold a face for too long, it will get stuck that way. The guy seems crestfallen, and content all at the same time. He’s just another tragic story that’s waiting to be unfolded.
Their convo is interrupted however, when the weather turns. A strong thunder storm is coming, and I guess that’s something that Mother Shimogamo can’t handle, because Yasaburo quickly gets up to fetch her. But before he can do that, there’s a situation on the bridge adjacent to the well.
It turns out that Yasaburo’s youngest brother is in big trouble on the bridge, as he’s been cornered by a pair of tanuki that had been bullying him earlier in the episode. Ginkaku and Kinkaku Ebisugawa, the sons of the rival Ebisugawa tanuki family. Apparently, their bullying had been more than enough for the littlest Shimogamo and he high-tailed it out of their factory. Yasaburo shows up to stave off their attack, but he doesn’t seem to be able to do much aside from get in the way. In the end, they’re both saved by Yaichiro Shimogamo, the oldest brother.
Yaichiro is pretty pissed at their poor performance, and them not being able to stand up to the two brothers. And attempts to give them a stern lecture on the way to pick up their mother. I say “attempt” because Yasaburo is too stubborn and care free to get it, and the youngest is well… too young.
The search doesn’t take too long, despite Yaichiro’s constant panicking. They’re able to find their mother under the bridge near the pool hall she frequents. It seems that Ebisugawa brothers have a sister who was nice enough to escort their panicked mom out of the street and into safety. And while the Shimogamos seem to hate the Ebisugawas, this girl is different.
The final scene is a touching one, as we’re properly introduced to the now deceased head of the Shimogamo family. The great tanuki that everyone talks about. It’s a shame that such a great purveyor of peace died in a stew pot. And it was pretty sad seeing the entire Shimogamo family in tanuki form weep their father’s death. But it’s still quite endearing to see that their mother still has that strong unconditional love for them, especially considering how much they seem to have created a bad reputation for themselves among the fellow tanuki families in town.
With a festival nearing, and his leisure cruiser wrecked, Yaichiro is left in the unfortunate position of needing to ask his younger brother, Yasaburo for help. And despite his lazy attitude, orbecause of his forthright mother, he’s left with the task of bailing his brother out. Before he does so, he vents to his other brother, Yajiro in the well. They lament the predicament and again the vacuum left by the loss of their father. And also discuss the ongoing feud with the Ebisugawa family. It seems that they hurt their mother pretty badly when they cancelled Yasaburo’s arranged marriage to their daughter, Kaisei.
Moving on, Yasaburo takes his younger brother with him to see Akadama. He believes the old broken tengu still has an old flying inner parlor that they can use as a substitute. While there, they meet another old tengu. He’s an old friend of Akadama’s, and a hell of a lot more pleasant to be around. Unfortunately, when it comes to the question of the inner parlor, there’s nothing pleasant to discuss. It seems the old fool has long since given away the inner parlot to – of all people – Benten. It appears that it’s time for a trip.
Before leaving though, we hear a story from the old buy about how Old Man Shimogamo pulled off the amazing feat of transforming into a mountain and freaking out some tengu. Hmph, it really does seem like this guy was purely amazing.
Yasaburo and his brother meet Benten and make their proposal for the inner parlor. Though Benten seems to have already been bribed by the Ebisugawa brothers before they arrived. Thankfully, it’s a crappy bribe of just one crappy t-shirt and a bottle of electric brandy. Benten seems to be in an eccentric carefree mood anyway, as she says she’s waiting for a whale, so that she can pull its tail. As she whips up a quick storm with her Raijin fan, she finally decides to loan the tanukis the inner parlor, though she warns that if it’s returned damaged, or not returned at all, their may be consequences. It’s right then that the whale shows up and Benten scurries off the skinny dip and yank a whale’s tail.
Oh this show…
Once done, Benten then shows Yasaburo how to work the inner parlor and heads off.
End of episode.
What to say about this show so far…? It certainly lives up to its name, as it’s eccentric as hell. And sometimes it feels that way for the hell of it. But overall, what I get out of this is a sense of family, and not in the strictest blood related way, either. It’s a screwed up extended family, complete with feuds and back-stabbings (not literally). There’s just so much baggage strewn about this cast of characters.
All in all, I don’t have much to say about these episodes. What I do have to say is rather positive. For a slowly paced show, I don’t find the conversations boring, or extended. The characters all seem to grow on me, and I even find the Ebisugawa brothers a pleasure to watch, though they are a pair a moronic bullies. I do find a bit of separation in understanding exactly how this world works, and how characters interact within it. The pretext seems to be that this is a world just like ours, but with tengu demons and mystical tanuki. But if that’s so, then is it not considered murder to kill a tanuki? Are they really just treated like regular woodland creatures, even though they can speak and mingle amongst the humans and tengu? I get a strong, and probably obvious feeling that Papa Shimogamo’s death may be the key to understanding this world. There’s just so much I’m not grasping, yet.
As the first episode did, these next two made me care about the characters and their relationships. And I find that somewhat amazing considering all the weird crap nonchalantly thrown about the narrative. I’ll be looking forward to the next episode. This festival episode should be the first bit of real excitement and action in the show, or I can at least hope that it’s wild and wacky. Can’t I?