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Uchouten Kazoku – 05

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「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.

 

Preview

Uchouten Kazoku   05   Preview 01 Uchouten Kazoku   05   Preview 02 Uchouten Kazoku   05   Preview 03
August 5, 2013 at 6:27 pm
29 comments »
  • August 5, 2013 at 6:57 pmKF

    This anime takes the concept of eating the things you love to a whole new level!

    TQ

  • August 5, 2013 at 7:05 pmBeedle

    “If I eat you, I’ll be sad because you’ll be gone”

    Benten-sama! You can’t have your tanuki and eat it too!

    • August 6, 2013 at 12:27 amRamen

      It’s like people die when they are killed or something! D:

  • August 5, 2013 at 8:00 pmKunagisa

    http://i.imgur.com/GWUTKz1.jpg <– Missing the best screenshot (gotta love cameos)

    I’m slightly creeped out that some characters consider eating something adorable is a strong gesture of affection.

    A certain bungaku shoujo eats books because she loves them so much~~~ How can you say you love them if you can’t even eat them!?

    There’s actually a very interesting scene in this episode, which I had a different perspective compared to the novel version. Like most people, when reading I thought Benten was conversing Yasaburou when she commented that her favorite thing will be gone if consumed; however, the anime version has shown her to be more contemplative and not even looking at Yasaburou when the thought was spoken. What if she was talking about a tanuki she already eaten as her favorite, not the tanuki that she would have to eat eventually? I wonder if this was intentional given some theories regarding Benten at the end of the novel.

    I am quite grateful that the director did the storyboard for all the episodes except one so far, such dedication is definitely a treat. The BGM and OP are definitely my favorite. Without the BGM, I felt a lot of scenes would be significantly weaker. The OP’s just amazing in both lyric and music (especially the lyric), even the full version didn’t disappoint.

    One of the few titles that I recommend to friends that “don’t watch cartoons”.

  • August 5, 2013 at 8:45 pmstarss

    Okay, the social themes here really confuse me. The tanuki family were devastated when their father was killed, yet here, Yasaburo visits the very murderers in a casual dinner and everyone is fine and dandy?? What happened to the crying?! At least put some emotion into your case, kid. STOP USING EATING PEOPLE AS A JOKE! IT BECOMES DISTURBING IF YOU KEEP USING IT AGAIN AND AGAIN! It doesn’t help that you really ARE talking about possibly eating him for this year’s hot pot. I’m really loving Ben 10, but it seems like Passively Hurtful is her only mode.

    I sense that maybe the Tanuki race in this show is endangered. They don’t state that outright, but with humans actually being able to eat Tanuki, the Tanuki seemingly having no say or control in the matter, and with this family taking their bond incredibly seriously, I get that sense.

    We also get some interesting light on Hotei sharing a story about when he encountered a Tanuki that was revealed to be Yasaburo’s mother. I wonder if that will come back later on.

    • August 5, 2013 at 8:52 pmblack_cat1

      We also get some interesting light on Hotei sharing a story about when he encountered a Tanuki that was revealed to be Yasaburo’s mother. I wonder if that will come back later on.

      Well, I can only say
      Show Spoiler ▼

    • August 6, 2013 at 12:44 amZen

      Poor emotional plausibility. Aberrant emotional reactions needs to be adequately explained, preemptively or immediately even if possible otherwise you’ll end up with the sort of complaints that are clearly evident here. Sigh…yet another example of an writer sacrificing logic for a certain kind of effect, in this case the trollish dark humor that arises from making a running joke out of death. The effect that is produced can be compelling, powerful even, propelling your work to greater heights- but there is a limit to those heights because something significant (logic) was sacrificed to get there- so sacrificing logic almost always holds your work back from attaining the greatest heights possible because it will usually instigate substantial dissent among your audience…

      • August 6, 2013 at 4:25 amBeedle

        O.o you speak as if you live in their world and lived their lives. Tell me, have you dined with the Friday Fellows and argued with them that tanukis are intelligent and should not be eaten? When was the last time you flew in an old Tengu’s inner parlor during a festival simply because your blood demanded it?

        Fact is, hardly any of our ‘human’ logic applies to tanuki culture– and culture (and/or tradition), especially the author’s perception of tanuki culture, seems to play a huge role in this whimsical tale.

      • August 6, 2013 at 5:44 amZen

        Whether or not any plausible “Fill-in-the-blanks-yourself” type explanations (Like “Tanuki culture is just different.”) exist is irrelevant. Whether any singular individual member of the audience feels inclined to subscribe to such explanations is also irrelevant. The only thing that I am concerned with here is the aggregate opinion of the target demographic- because ultimately the collective is what spreads the word about a story and maintains its legacy in years to come. All it takes to dilute and destroy the legacy of a show is for a significant minority of its initial viewership to perceive some kind of problem (A number that will surely increase substantially over time once the sheen of newness fades)- and it does seem like there is a significant amount of head-scratching going on here regarding Yasaburou’s behavior.

        I couldn’t care less whether there actually “is” or “is not” a quality problem- the only thing that matters is that many think there is a problem of emotional implausibility- since this negative opinion about actual quality exists and isn’t exactly uncommon it will without question exert a negative influence on the show’s bottom line- that is, fiscal success and legacy, and in pursuit of this the best writers eliminate any and all elements that are likely to cause a significant minority of the target demographic to perceive an actual problem of quality. Regardless of what the most diehard of fans, or the more imaginative or even the writer him/herself thinks about the matter…

      • August 6, 2013 at 7:29 amBeedle

        I actually feel that the “fill-in-the-blanks” bit is relevant because it is the chosen narrative style. Rather than having an omniscient voice spoon-feeding information with great gusto, I’m enjoying the narrative as it is told by an individual living in such a world. Yasaburou is not without his own biases– in this sense, he is an unreliable narrator– but that is precisely what makes this show both intriguing and visceral. It adds to the mystique of this series while hammering home the emotion of his every interaction.

        Why doesn’t Yasaburou take up arms against the “tyrannical” Friday Fellows? Well, simply put, he is a tanuki and they are humans. The narrative alludes the answer to quite simply be nature instead of malicious intent.

        One might even attempt to extrapolate a hypothetical scenario from this series: what if, say, pigs learned how to talk and somehow gained the ability to communicate with humans? Would humans just suddenly stop eating pigs after years of eating them? Granted, with the power of social media networking, it would be easier to start movement groups and garner both sympathy and support through the ease of information dissemination, but would that guarantee that people will stop eating pork?

        An even more frustrating scenario would be the case where all our food can talk and assume a humanoid shape– what then?

        While I doubt real-world eating habits is integral to the themes of this series, the narrative has still made it abundantly clear that the possibility of being eaten is part of tanuki culture, with the Friday Fellows being the guarantee to that inevitability.

        [My pet theory is that Yasaburou is actually trying to fight against his culture, what with how I feel like his voice actor is being sarcastic whenever he talks about his "foolish tanuki blood". As I have stated in a previous comment, while Yasaburou may "fail as a tanuki", at least he will remain alive.]

        [Unfortunately for Yasaburou, his attraction to Benten might actually cost him the big one.]

        Now if, as you put it, a minority of the initial viewership still maintains that such a demand for cultural relativism is a flaw of this series, then that is fine. The likelihood of everyone enjoying the same thing is unlikely.

        The fact that the series is told from a biased perspective and pursues its chosen theme is not a flaw nor is it irrelevant; these decisions are what makes this series itself.

        What would be considered flaws are failings in the production-side of the spectrum eg relevant information that is lost in transcription, audiovisual dissonance, etc. As far as I’m concerned, none of that has been a problem, so it is easy to enjoy Uchouten Kazoku’s progression.

      • August 6, 2013 at 12:27 pmZen

        Look, I agree that it’s relevant if you’re trying to argue about objective quality, which I’m not. I’m not concerned with such matters here- just whether the elements present in a story will appeal widely and resonate deeply across the target demographic. I’m only concerned about attaining maximal fiscal success and legacy. And in pursuit of such a goal elements that divide your target demographic are detrimental, regardless of whether they could be considered to be “objectively good” or “objectively bad.” You wanna make lots of cash and be remembered as a great work or cult hit? Don’t do things that divide your target demographic and alienate substantial minorities, especially if your target audience is rather small to begin with. That’s all I’m saying, in no way am I implying that the show “objectively bad”…

      • August 6, 2013 at 5:12 pmBeedle

        While I do want this to be a fiscal success, you’re proposing that in order to achieve this status, the show will have to bend over and cater to the masses instead of telling its own story, so as not to divide the target demographic–whomever it may be. If that’s the case, then all aspiring and future authors may as well just conduct a market study on the current tastes of the majority and develop their stories based on the results, sacrificing both their own ideas and their personality just to play things safe. And while the final product has a greater chance of achieving success, I personally would not want to read such superficial formula if it means that stories such as Uchouten Kazoku, complex stories founded on real phenomena so simple that it is taken for granted, are weeded out.

      • August 6, 2013 at 7:33 pmZen

        I must apologize for using the term “wide appeal”- it’s too vague and obviously led to misunderstanding. Specifically the type of wide appeal I am referring to is a “wide, general perception of the highest quality” among those at whom your show is targeted. The “target demographic.” Your target demographic can be small, there’s no problem at all with doing that- even the most niche show in the world can become a cult classic for the ages if it is widely and generally perceived to be of the highest quality and resonates deeply across its small target demographic (Sci-fi lovers, drama lovers, etc.).

        Only the opinion of the kind of people who would watch your niche show really matters after all- with niche shows like this by and large everyone else simply isn’t going to care anyways, over ~95% of people outside this niche target demographic won’t even bother to watch it.

        So what does a show need to become a cult hit classic within its own niche? Well, to repeat what I said above it needs to be widely and generally perceived to be of the highest quality within its target demographic and it also needs to resonate deeply with them. Resonate deeply so that it is not easily forgotten- not just pull heartstrings, but outright break them. Be perceived as being of the highest quality generally and widely all across its niche audience so that its legacy and memory isn’t diluted by bickering and a lack of solidarity of opinion which will turn the passions of many for it lukewarm over time.

        The problem with Uchouten Kazoku is that it is sacrificing a wide, general perception of quality across its niche for the sake of deeper initial emotional resonance. The writers (Whether consciously or unconsciously) chose to sacrifice emotional plausibility for sake of attaining a deeper, more resonant emotional effect. Emotional plausibility is one of those things that by and large shouldn’t be toyed with unless it is adequately explained.

        Because sad to say, but lots of people simply aren’t imaginative or open-minded enough to take the leap and fill in the blanks regarding the seemingly alien behavior of a character- I mean I’m with you guys, Yasaburou might just be acting this way because Tanuki culture is very forgiving, or because he’s so in love with Benten that he doesn’t care- all possibilities- but the fact remains that lots of people simply aren’t that open minded.

        So whenever you do something with your story that gives off the preliminary appearance of emotional implausibility this significant minority of the population is simply going to decry what you did as being of “poor quality.” They are not going to bother to think about how they could fill in the blanks themselves. So you get a large number of dissenters who believe that you just did something bad- and it leads a dilution of your legacy because the substantial dissent will moderate the passion for your show as members of your target demographic discuss it over time- passion naturally fades over time and lots of dissenters will precipitate the process. Open-mindedness and imagination are normally distributed across all of humanity by the way- which means no matter how small and restrictive your niche target demographic happens to be, such people will nigh always constitute a substantial minority.

        The works that will be remembered by the collective within the niche as the “best” long into the future are those that manage to attain a wide, general perception of the highest quality across its niche viewership (So that passion for it does not get diluted by dissent over time) and also resonate deeply with them (Instill the target audience with an unquenchable, deep passion for the show). This show sacrifices some of the former for the latter. The best of the best however manage to attain both without sacrificing anything…

      • August 7, 2013 at 7:44 pmsealouse

        Dissent eh? Yeah I’m raging. I need to read these comments to calm down. Seriously though. This show is absurd. I can’t believe the entire thing is based on eating Tankuki in a hot pot. It’s equally absurd that that point is its single flaw. So I’ll keep watching it, but man I hope you people keep commenting so I can come in here after watching an episode and let my rage subside.

  • August 5, 2013 at 9:33 pmKurama

    Best series of 2013 for me, unless you count Shin Sekai Yori, which started airing in 2012.

    • August 5, 2013 at 9:38 pmAlec

      doing the exact same.

  • August 5, 2013 at 10:13 pmLykke

    Benten is a really fascinating character, definitely one of my favorites this season. I keep wanting to know more about her.

  • August 5, 2013 at 10:48 pmbolton

    joining up with the friday fellows will definitely make yasaburou’s life more interesting.

    omoshiroi! watching yasaburou dance with fire is definitely fun.

  • August 5, 2013 at 11:42 pmleatherhead333

    k i’m not sure why he is being all chummy with a girl who ATE his father and is pretty much keen on eating him too. Is he really THAT stupid? If you get eaten you will FREAKING DIE! STOP DRINKING WINE AND CASUALLY TALKING WITH SOMEONE WHO MURDERS YOUR KIND! GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE!

    Joking aside someone brought up this up in another comments section.
    “But I think the tanukis have mentality different to humans, and survival probably isn’t a priority on their minds. If they have that kind of survival instinct or a little more sense of selfishness & ambition they could use their powers easily to destroy humankind.”

    And here was my response

    That’s a very plausible explanation and actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Still something about the whole situation rubs me the wrong way. While Tanuki’s aren’t humans they have emotions, feel pain and have a small (yet still noticeable) impact on society. In just about every aspect besides the shape shifting they are human. And for humans to simply eat them as if it was a simple luxury of life seems heartless and disturbing. I don’t see any reason for them not to be able to just live peacefully with one another. Maybe the rules of this world are different from the real world but it is considered immoral to mistreat animals and you can go to jail for a considerable amount of time for it (at least in america).

    You’d think there would be some group of people against the whole situation considering they are taking away the lives of these creatures and not batting an eye. The way that the purple haired girl casually talks about how good his father tasted made me want to slap her lol. And the guy simply doesn’t even react at all to it as if his death didn’t matter at all. Maybe he’s over the whole thing already but i can’t accept this situation very well.

    I have to give this series credit though not many shows can cause me to actually be seriously angry at how people act and how skewed the morality is (at least in my opinion).

    • August 6, 2013 at 2:33 amhoh

      Most of the Friday club, apart from Benten and possibly the absenting members of their last gathering, had no ideas that Tanuki had human like emotions. When Yasaburo admitted to be a Tanuki, they thought it was an excellent joke regarding his shape shifting tricks.

      I suspect for most of the Friday club, Tanukis are some fairly cute animal featuring in stories and are hard to catch. They are still just animals and not even on the endangered list.

      People might want to run the pet argument. But truth is who got to be cute and gain the “Pet” status (hence gain the not eatable status) is purely up to human and not the actual attributes of the animal. If tested on intelligence and emotional capability, pigs probably beat cats and dogs yet we still butcher them as pigs. So while Tanukis are cute for the viewers, they might be considered large mouse by the locals and hence eatable as long as they are not endangered.

      As for Benten, eating Tanuki is part of a strange political plot to gain control over all three races.

      • August 6, 2013 at 7:27 amleatherhead333

        Fair enough but that still doesn’t explain why he doesn’t really care if he gets eaten. I mean you’d think he would want to stay with his mother, siblings and master instead of being someones dinner. Yasaburo is a great guy and he deeply cares for everyone around him. He’s pretyt much the only one who visits the old fart who drinks all the time (he is also a huge tsundere). He makes sure to see his mother almost everyday and even visits his brother who is a frog stuck in a well as a frog. So this begs the question why he is so willing to accept his fate despite all the people he would end up leaving behind. Who knows how that old man would turn out if he stopped coming to visit him.

        I don’t know maybe this is just something i’m over thinking and the whole situation is supposed to be a form of “Dark Humor” but so far this situation has only left me pissed off at most of the people that were shown in this episode especially Benten who is a uncaring sadistic wench who only cares about satisfying her own desires.

      • August 6, 2013 at 8:48 amblack_cat1

        Well, for Yasaburo (or maybe the whole Tanuki race), human sits on the top of the food chain. Yasaburo understands very well the fact that human eats tanuki just like they eat cow, pig or chicken. He cannot change that fact, that’s the reason why he want to live his life to the fullest and if he is end up in a hot pot, then will welcome it with a smile on his face. Even the proud Tengu will fall out from the sky, human dies and becomes food for things such as maggot, tanuki is just one in the the food chain so why so serious

        Show Spoiler ▼

    • August 6, 2013 at 6:01 amstarss

      If their whole purpose is to survive, why couldn’t their heroic, strong, legendary father preventing winding up in the hot pot in the first place? Something about that isn’t right.

    • August 6, 2013 at 7:58 amBeedle

      It’s frustrating, isn’t it? But that’s cultural boundaries for you XD

      I don’t see these events as dark humor. At least, not as far as Yasaburou is concerned. Benten… it’s hard to get a read on her, but this episode does hint that she isn’t at all heartless or self-absorbed. The closing lines make it appear that Benten is considering the consequences of eating her ‘pet’ seriously.

      One thing to bear in mind though: don’t confuse empathy with sympathy. Empathy would be feeling what Yasaburou feels regarding his situation, while sympathy would be feeling your own feelings regarding Yasaburou’s situation. That might help you deal with the frustration :)

      Personally, I think Yasaburou should heed his family’s advice and stay away from Benten, but such is his attraction. Then again, maybe he’s just that type of persontanuki that wants to live his life as interesting as possible– free of fear’s constraints?

  • August 6, 2013 at 7:10 amBear

    This is a fantasy so I don’t expect ironclad logic. The show is both funny and their world is interesting, but when Benten appears it’s magical.

  • August 6, 2013 at 7:26 amB.I.T.W.

    the more i keep watching this more wonder can we spin-off series with ben10 as the lead?

    really she been total show-stealer to watch give hmm wonder why name is benten give same name of certain you know who voice by yuri lowenthal since alien force.

    indeed who or what is this ben10 female?

    & oh we finally meet friday people yet seem hmm fine give wonder how eat dad on the main tanuki family?

    • August 6, 2013 at 3:43 pmjuan

      I just came back from a trip to Osaka, and my hotel was at a train stop named “Bentenchō.” I was curious about the name for that train station, and found out that Benten (also known as Benzaiten) is the Japanese Shinto goddess of “everything that flows: water, words, speech, eloquence, music and by extension, knowledge” [wikipedia]

      So, if you consider that they mentioned that the Friday Fellows are humans that represent the seven(?) gods, then it may help explain why the Tanuki don’t rebel against being eaten by them. After all, it’s not all humans that eat them, only the Friday Fellows do.

      Tanuki themselves gain their powers of form-shifting within the Shinto religion, so that is the world that we’re inhabiting in the story.

      In that case, Tanuki may see the “being eaten in a pot” as part of an “ascension” if you may. A way of merging back into the gods that rule over their lives.

      Just a thought :-)

  • August 6, 2013 at 7:55 amedo

    uhh that old professor hotei was relly creepy…

  • August 7, 2013 at 8:54 pmpetitorenji

    “… why do you want to eat her?”
    “I loved her, that’s why I wanted to eat her.”

    Never has a dialogue so accurately represented my perplexing feelings toward other attractive human beings

    “…and since then has been upheld for nothing else but the sake of tradition.

    One of J-culture’s more ugly side