Uchouten Kazoku ep4: incorrigible!
Uh, wow! Tanukis really are a foolish, foolish race. This was like a giant slap fight – with rockets.
It’s finally the night of the festival, and as the humans prepare, so do the tanuki. In the flying tea room, known as the inner parlor, the Shimogamo family gathers to observe the human festivities from the skies. The only problem? Yasaburo’s guest hasn’t arrived yet. That’s right, he’s really gonna wait for the cantankerous tengu, Akadama to show up. And as usual, the old fool doesn’t make it easy on them. Meandering around within eye shot of the parlor until Yasaburo goes out to politely invite them to join them – AGAIN!
Inside, everyone has gathered, including their cross-dressing mother. The tea kettle is filled up with wine, much to Akadama’s alcoholic chagrin. I really have to bone up more on my youkai culture. The act of filling a magical tea kettle to fly is not something I’ve heard of before. Plus the fact that Akadama is constantly chugging the same substance as the fuel they need to fly can’t be a sound decision.
Moving on, the Shimogamo family soon welcomes Akadama’s old tengu friend. He starts telling the Shimogamo family about how their famous father helped Akadama out a long time ago. It’s actually a deeper account of the “False Mountain Incident” that we’ve heard before. It seems that there was a bit of a grudge match going on between tengu, and Akadama in his younger age was quite the rebellious jerk (big surprise). His arrogant, stubborn attitude earned him quite a bit of grief from his enemies on his territory. It was Shoichiro Shimogamo who came to his aid to get his detractors off his back. His act of turning into a mountain for an entire week and terrorizing the antagonistic tengu off the mountain helped Akadama out greatly. And the old fool was actually nice enough back then to thank him for it. It looks like the two of them really were great friends.
Unfortunately, the pleasant atmosphere of the night is soured by the Ebisugawa family and their massive pleasure cruiser. They’ve been floating about nearby all night, poking and teasing the Shimogamos. And now their fireworks displays were going off dangerously close to the parlor. To make matters worse, Benten is on the leisure cruiser, and this information sends Akadama into a fury! His depression only speeds up the pace of his drinking.
When one of the fireworks hits the parlor, catching it and Yaichiro on fire, it pushes Momma Shimogamo too far. She aims one of the massive fireworks cannons they have directly at the Ebisugawas. Yaichiro implores her to not respond, he has an important tanuki election coming up, and doesn’t want the family to look any worse. But his pleas fall on deaf ears, as Yasaburo kicks him aside and helps her aim for the pompous family’s ship. Their aim is true, and hits ship right above the deck. But all this does is illicit a very aggressive response from the Ebisugawas, as they pepper the parlor with fireworks, and spear it with an anchor when they try to get away.
To save his family, Yasaburo takes Benten’s hints (she’s long since camped herself out on the mast) and finds and deploys the Flying Thunder God fan. to blow that boat of brainless a-holes away. Unfortunately, they don’t have long to celebrate before the parlor starts to fall. All of their evasive maneuvers during the duel have depleted their wine stores, and even as they desperately search, they cannot find a full bottle.
There is one bottle with wine still in it, but it’s tragically in the hands of Akadama. A bitter Akadama, who goes on a rant about how he’s better than some stupid tea kettle being used for flight, or some idiot tanukis before he chugs the last of the wine. The parlor crashes into a million pieces, though everyone escapes relatively unscathed, one way or another. Though when Yasaburo gets his bearings, he realizes that he no longer has the Flying Thunder God fan! And being unable to find it, plus having the inner parlor that he borrowed from Benten completely destroyed, he sees no other alternative but to run for his life… or be put in a hot pot.
End of episode.
The foolishness of tanuki has been spoken of again and again in this show. And here we get to see it in full display. Sure, they may have “the blood of idiots” running through their veins, but they have plenty of pride, too. And with the family already being persecuted, teased and bullied by the Ebisugawas, it should have been expected that they’d lash out like this. I do wonder if Benten saw the writing on the wall herself? She’s right in the middle of all this, hanging out on the Ebisugawa pleasure cruiser, while loaning the Shimogamos the inner parlor and the Flying Thunder God fan. And then she even gives Yasaburo the idea to use it on the Ebisugawas. Might she be playing both sides against one another? Or maybe she’s choosing the side that’s clearly winning, but feeling pity for the Shimogamos by giving them a chance? I just can’t figure her out. And without much of a backstory to go on, or motives on her part, it’s really hard to feel her out. If she’s a villain, she’s a really good one.
The Shimogamo family has also taken a pretty bad hit from this overall as well. Yaichiro has a big election coming up. And this kind of negativity is exactly what he didn’t want to happen. All Yaichiro has wanted up to this point was what was best for his family, and to bring them together under a banner of glory that has escaped them since their father’s demise. His dreams aren’t dashed yet, but I’m sure he’s worried about them. He may be a little too uptight for his own good, but I do feel a little sorry for the guy.
Then there’s Akadama. What is wrong with this dude?! I’ve tried to tolerate him up until this point, but his hangups are just a gigantic sore to everyone around him. I can understand him being a bit of a jerk, but he’s so brash, selfish, ungrateful and lonely that I’ve found him pushing past my normal threshold for tolerance. The show is so outlandish, that I have trouble telling just how much someone is in danger in this show. But if I were to take Benten’s words at face value, his selfish actions have helped put Yasaburo in mortal danger.
It’s kind of sad. I was hoping that I would be able to tolerate the old fool, and see past his flaws. But this episode has made me drop all pretenses of understanding. It’s going to take a lot of work to get this eccentric family to pull itself together.