Uchouten Kazoku ep8: the blood of sages
So is this the great goodbye? Is the only mystery left to us Benten?
The final moments of the great Souichiro Shimogamo’s life are finally told in this episode. Though the pages in this finally chapter of his book don’t end quite the way we’ve been lead to expect.
As Yajiro admitted in the last episode, it was he who was with Souichiro before his inevitable death at the hands of the Friday Fellows. The meeting was to resolve the issues Yajiro was having with his reputation, and his life. But most importantly, Yajiro had a problem with love. He was in love with a very young tanuki girl who was already engaged to one of his brothers. I’m pretty sure that most people who have watched up until this point can guess who that female tanuki is. It’s Kaisei Ebisugawa, Yasaburou’s now ex-fiance (I think). This issue so troubled Yajiro, that he considered leaving town and the family to resolve it.
Souichiro told him that his greatest fear was seeing his brothers fight and break apart. And he decided to take on Yajiro’s problem personally. To end their night of consultation, and heavy drinking, they decided to be a pair of silly tanukis and ride around town scaring people. Fair enough, though it would be the last fun thing they’d ever do together. He was soon captured by the Friday Fellows after that.
When the family finally learned of Souichiro’s death, a day later, Yajiro was crushed. It is exactly the reason why he forsook his life as a tanuki and now lives at the bottom of a well as a frog.
With that truth out of the way, Yaichiro and Yasaburou head back, though Yasaburou sends his very sad older brother home and takes on the responsibility of picking up Akadama, a very angry Akadama.
On the quiet trip back, Akadama tells Yasaburou about Kaisei stoppping by and dropping off a nice coat for him. Though there isn’t much conversation besides that for awhile. Yasaburou is deep in thought, remembering his father. And he’s not very fond of Akadama’s talk about his dad’s death, and how it was predetermined. Though Akadama does let his curtness slide and tell him that Yajiro wasn’t the last one to see his father alive, he was.
The bar that Yasaburou frequents used to be a very nice restaurant, clad in beautiful decor and white. There Akadama was drinking by himself when Souichiro showed up in tanuki form. Akadama invites him up to share a drink. It’s after this sip that Souichiro lets him know that he’s just died via hot pot. Akadama chastises him for being fool enough to get caught and killed, but in the end he regretfully gives him a final farewell and handshake.
Yasaburou returns home to see how his family is doing, and to talk to his mom about his dad. He learns that she already kinda knew why Yajiro decided to become a frog at the bottom of the well. And we see Yaichiro lying miserably on the floor, saying the same thing.
End of episode.
This episode deflated me a bit. On one hand, it’s a beautiful and engaging piece of slice-of-life anime. On the other hand, it’s so terribly sad to see this already broken family have to relive what is the worst day of their lives. So there’s a bit of conflict in this episode – or maybe I should classify it as a dichotomy. In this episode, we have the peace and love and tranquility with which Souichiro left this world, contrasting heavily with the strife, conflict and grief that his family faces now. And they don’t just face it in a general sense, there’s a very bitter, personal conflict going on between the Ebisugawa clan and them. Even with all this knowledge, it’s still not an easy task for them to let go as their father has. Even Yasaburou, who may be the closest to Souichiro can’t quite reach that peace, yet.
Souichiro was the very definition of a sage, so I guess it shouldn’t be expected for his family to just easily don his zen-like approach to life, death and general existence. And even as a sage, we learn that he and his own brother both despised each other. And even as a sage, we see that he still had things that he feared, that he could not actually control. One of those things was the break up of his family, which is a very real fear for those with large families and a lot of power divide. Souichiro could see clear what aspects of himself seeped into his seeds. Yaichiro, inheriting his father’s strong sense of responsibility. Yajiro, inheriting his extremely relaxed personality. Yasaburou his idiocy and talent; and Yashiro inheriting his innocence (perhaps making him the best candidate to be the next sage from the family).
Despite their father’s best efforts, it is up the remainders of the Shimogamo family to pull together and heal. He’s done all he can at this point.