Uchouten Kazoku – 05
「金曜倶楽部」 (Kinyou Kurabu)
“The Friday Fellows (Club)”
I’m slightly creeped out that some characters consider eating something adorable is a strong gesture of affection. It almost makes sense, but at the same time leaves me dumbfounded. Today’s episode of Uchouten Kazoku finally sheds some light on the looming danger that all Tanuki face and of course, the main perpetrators of those deeds. It’s an episode that teased the answers we’ve been waiting to hear, but no matter how many hot pots they present to us, we’re left desiring to see more, especially of Benten. Not in that way of course, since we’ve practically seen her like that two episodes ago.
The cognitive dissonance during this episode was at an all-time high, which is saying something considering all the seemingly contradictory actions many of the characters have exhibited throughout the series. I constantly feared that Yasaburo would get into a whole lot of trouble, but instead he seemed to blend into the group just fine–being able to get into a competition for the last piece of beef is a sure sign of friendliness. Before this episode, one could assume that the Friday Fellows were a casual group of powerful people, yet one may not have expected just how casual they really are. The group’s activities constitute sitting around, eating hotpot, and getting drunk, all while being entertained by whatever gets dragged in. Formality is strangely absent except for the status of the members–not what you’d expect from the group of people the Tanuki fear most.
So why does this group partake in eating Tanuki every year? Eating Tanuki is a Friday Fellows tradition that dates back to the eccentric tastes of a former member and since then has been upheld for nothing else but the sake of tradition. No one particularly enjoys the tradition (except for the Professor, which we’ll hit on later), yet fear breaking tradition even in the absence of enforcement. The casual discussion about eating Tanuki was a relief, but at the same time fairly disgusting. Tanuki have shown themselves to be capable and intelligent beings, but live in fear of a group that could easily stop eating Tanuki without much care.
However, as with most main conflicts, it wouldn’t be that easy to stop the tradition and give Tanuki-kind peace of mind. Benten and the Professor are the two main obstacles to this goal, though their reasoning for eating Tanuk is hard to grasp. Of all the people in the group, they are the two that probably love Tanuki (in Benten’s case Yasaburo specifically) the most, yet are the most eager to eat them up. Though the Professor has a kind heart for taking care of Tanuki (specifically Yasaburo’s mother) in danger and Benten fancies Yasaburo very much, both come to the same contradictory conclusion. If the preview is any indication, we can expect more elaboration on this behavior, though more so revealing Benten’s motivations than the Professor’s. The entire series has placed a major focus on developing the sensitive relationship between Yasaburo and Benten, but now we should hopefully start seeing what exactly Benten sees in Yasaburo and vice versa (through a festival episode no less). All I’m waiting for now is when Kaisei will come out of hiding to save his beloved ex-fiance (if I’m guessing correctly) from a tight situation once more.