Uchouten Kazoku – 07
「銭湯の掟」 (Sentou no Okite)
“Bath House Rules”
Apologies for the delay: Oreimo 3 ep finale + podcast recording + 2 shows are hard to accomplish all on time. Forgive me! Don’t boil me in a hotpot! ;_;
A battle between Tanuki has begun, where anything goes to gain support for the upcoming Nise-emon election–a position still shrouded in relative mystery. Anywhere in Kyoto is fair game for both Shimogamo and Ebisugawa to gain ground, with bath houses being no exception. What a perfect place to engage your enemy when they’re most vulnerable–naked and relaxing without a worry in the world.
The Ebisugawa family holds strength when it comes to intimidation and circle-jerking reassurance, but some of their members let their Tanuki idiocy shine too much. Kintaku and Gintaku, though armed with incriminating evidence that is both emotionally and politically unstable, fail to achieve their intended goal of absolute victory through coercion–all they receive is a very cold bath and uncomfortable underwear to boot. Despite their role as antagonists, the two brothers are much less an actual threat and much more devices to progress the plot. Thanks to their antics, the Shimogamo family finally has a lead to close the books on a case shrouded in mystery for years. It’s a painful case to dig up, I’m sure, but if it means finding closure for every single member of the Shimogamo family (especially Yajiro), then so be it.
Today’s episode didn’t illustrate much in the way of new information or character development, but it did provide a reasonably good setup for the next episode’s reveal of Souichirou’s last moments and their implications. Yaichirou and Yajiro, the two eldest, have been the ones unable to move on from their father’s death, and understandably so–Yashirou and arguably Yasaburo were much too young back then to fully understand their father’s disappearance, not like the two elderly brothers who perhaps both feel a heavy responsibility for the act.
It now makes sense why Yaichirou and Yajirou act the way they do, though now it’s fully clear how polarized they are from one another. Yaichirou pursues the post of Nise-emon in memory of his father, most likely out of admiration for the work he did to unite the Tanuki families in relative harmony. Yajirou on the other hand does the exact opposite, instead withdrawing his participation in the world, perhaps out of shame for what he feels lead to his father’s death. It is easy to sympathize with Yaichirou’s motivation to pursue a position of leadership, but can we do the same for Yajirou? It’s harder, but I feel it is a position that is understandable. Fearing that your own actions may harm the people you care about it a legitimate concern, and though it may not be the most constructive thing to act on such fear and guilt, it makes sense. I do predict that Yajirou will find the resolve somehow to literally climb out of the hole he’s dug himself (well it’s a well, and he probably didn’t dig it himself, but you get my point!), most likely through the forgiveness and support of his family, with perhaps a dash of “oh this is what really happened” and “your father chose his fate willingly and for good reason” as a tipping point.
However, we depart this comparison to return to one we’ve touched on several times this series–the truth behind Souichirou’s death and how it affected every character in the show. Though the Ebisugawa twins claim the drunkenness allowed for Souichirou’s capture, it is clear from our point of view that Souichirou was cognitively able many hours before the hot pot. Thus, the question still stands–why exactly did Souichirou not make a run for it when he clearly could? There are some educated guesses we can make, but hopefully those possibilities narrow themselves down with next week’s episode. Until then, let’s keep wondering about this central tale that weaves all the main characters together, and lets’ hope to everything in Kyoto that we see Kaisei in a non-object form!