Uchouten Kazoku ep10: the true goodbye
With the pieces in place, it’s not hard to see how things played out. It seems that in this mystical world of tanuki, tengu and humanity, there aren’t many accidents, but quite the few twists of carefully woven fate. That said, I’d love to see some of that thread wound around Soun Ebisugawa’s throat.
This day is far to fateful and momentous a day for it to pass uneventfully. Yaichiro is set to meet with the tanuki elders one last time that day, and everyone is supportive and happy for him, but Kaisei’s words won’t leave Yasaburou’s head. The fog of war (and I do consider the battle for Nise-emon a war) can make people paranoid, paralyzed and scared, but I don’t think that’s Yasaburou’s problem. He trusts his ex-fiancee, and I don’t blame him. If what the Ebisugawa family is planning is so hush-hush that even Kaisei can’t get a whiff of it, then it has to be really dirty. Regardless, everyone happily sends Yaichiro off.
It doesn’t take long for the plot to get started. It begins with Ginkaku and Kinkaku trapping the youngest Shimogamo brother, Yashiro in a shed without his cell phone. Poor Yashiro, he was never very clever. It was child’s play, literally. In the meantime, Yasaburou has gone to see Yajiro at the wall, dropping down some fried chicken from the previous night’s meal. when he shares his thoughts and worries about the day’s circumstances and Kaisei’s warning, Yajiro agrees that he has something to worry about, and that he should be careful. They don’t have long to ponder though, before a ridiculous wind starts up. It’s obvious to Yasaburou that someone has fired up the Raijin fan, but what really matters is that their mother is in trouble and Yasaburou immediately heads off to save her.
The Ebisugawas are incredibly thorough, as they don’t waste any time using the weather to their advantage. Yaichiro is captured when his cart crashes trying to avoid a tanuki that has hopped into their path. The tanuki is merely a stuffed doll, and Yaichiro is captured in his tanuki form. The only ones left now from the Shimogamo family seem to be Yasaburou and his mother. The Ebisugawas don’t seem to be worried about Yajiro.
Yasaburou makes it back to the shrine, but there’s no one there. Only Yaichiro’s empty cart arrives to greet him. But scurrying in the bushes he does come across Kaisei. The plot is clear now to her. Soun Ebisugawa means to capture the entire Shimogamo family, and have Yaichiro boiled in the Friday Fellows hotpot!
Kaisei then begins her confession, telling Yasaburou that she was there to witness the great betrayal of Soichiro Shimogamo. She had actually tagged along the whole night with Soun Ebisugawa, hiding as one of his charms. From that position she witnessed things from Soun’s vantage point. She saw the meeting of her father and uncle, and how they had their last conversation. At that table, the brothers discussed their grievances, mainly Soun’s grievances. He seemed to have a change of attitude around the time Souichiro got married and he was married into the Ebisugawa clan. He also seemed dejected about losing to his older brother for the position of Nise-emon. And at the end of the meeting, he proposes a sort of reconciliation ceremony, complete with witnesses. Souichiro doesn’t see the point in such pomp and circumstance, requesting that it just remain quiet and between the two of them, but Soun insists. His guests? Satomi Suzuki, or as we know her now – Benten. Soichiro has been sold out to the Friday Fellows! With the great tanuki leader already drunk, the cage already in the room, and Benten suspiciously being his only weakness to maintaining his human transformation, it’s all too easy to place the old tanuki in the cage. Things have worked out too perfectly. With a spot in the Friday Fellows just opening, and Soun anxious to get his brother out of the way. Souichiro looks to his brother from inside the cage and asks him if he’s OK with sending his brother to his death. But nothing is reciprocated. Soun just turns and walks away.
With the story complete, Yasaburou looks to Kaisei and says that he figured things played out that way. It’s just that he’s thought about it for so long, that he didn’t think it was true anymore. There’s no time to let the news wash over him though. The final stage of Soun’s capture plot is playing out around him, as a platoon of Ebisugawa cronies surround the talented young tanuki, with Soun appearing from the crowd. He tells Yasaburou that he’s already captured the rest of his family, including his mother. Yasaburou’s the last invite to his party.
End of episode.
AAAARGH! This episode! Soun Ebisugawa! It makes me so angry just thinking about it! I have trouble thinking about anything but what Soun has done, and is trying to do! Soun is the classic example of someone who chooses to abandon his love of family and -well, I can’t say he abandoned his humanity. He’s a tanuki. Regardless! He’s thrown away something timeless for something petty and egocentric! How can you throw away the life of your own brother for more fame or power?! I can’t fathom it! And now it’s even worse! With his brother long dead, he’s even willing to put the guy’s entire family in harm’s way and sacrifice his oldest son, just to get a position that most tanukis don’t even care about anymore.
I’m sorry, my anger at this episode makes it hard for me to focus on things like the episode’s direction, tone or animation. And I don’t even want to think about the next episode, though when I do it shine some hope.
My thoughts going into this are that Yajiro will be the Shimogamo family’s wild card and last hope. I’m guessing that Kaisei (the love of his life) will appeal to him enough to get him out of his funk of uselessness and break out of his frog form curse, which I’m pretty sure is just a mental hangup he’s self imposed on himself since Souichiro died. Despite the fondness two members of the Friday Fellows have for Yasaburou, I’m not gonna rely on them to suddenly NOT kill and eat a tanuki over it. So I’m placing my bets on Yajiro redeeming himself.
OK, OK! Putting my anger aside (I feel like such a mark right now), this was a really good episode. And I’m really considering this one of the best of the series, and maybe even a candidate for episode of the year (a long shot). It made me feel like I was watching an adaptation of an old play or sonnet. Something classic, but still bitter and dark. And there’s not much in my mind that’s darker and more intimate than fratricide. At this point, I’m thoroughly satisfied and enchanted with the show’s world and what it has done to illicit feelings in me. I couldn’t be happier to return to this world week after week. And I couldn’t be sadder if I had to see someone from the Shimogamo family have to say the “true goodbye” to the rest of their family.