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Uchouten Kazoku – 09

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Uchouten Kazoku   09   31 Uchouten Kazoku   09   32 Uchouten Kazoku   09   33

「夷川の娘・海星」 (Ebisugawa no Musume ・ Kaisei)
“Daughter of the Ebisugawas: Kaisei”

Zanibas is under the weather, so I’m filling in for him on Uchouten this week – he’ll be back next week. He compiled all the caps for this episode – thanks Zani! ~ Enzo

 

In a funny way, I found this episode more melancholy than the last.

Uchouten Kazoku is the sort of series that leaves a great deal unspoken. It’s fitting in that this is very much a show where two worlds exist side-by-side, wholly interdependent yet seemingly also independent of each other (or even unaware of the other’s existence). It’s that sense of naturalistic surrealism I mentioned a few weeks ago – that which is so fantastical and fanciful is treated with such matter-of-fact nonchalance that it becomes easy to accept it as perfectly normal.

The truth is, last week’s episode was so transcendentally brilliant and emotionally devastating that I actually held off on watching this one for a bit, because I knew there was no way it could operate on the same plane of existence. And wisely, it doesn’t try – this, like episode seven, focuses on the tapestry of half-revealed mysteries that make up the plot. As well, it takes time to finally introduce us formally to a character whose shadow has been long, but whose face entirely absent – Kaisei. I’m still not sure if there was a reason why we were kept from seeing her for better than two-thirds of the series – when we did finally see her face it was done without too much fanfare, and she seems quite normal. But Morimi-sensei isn’t the sort of writer who’s fond of coincidence, so the thinking here is that we just haven’t been told the reason yet. And there’s an awful lot we haven’t been told, in general.

Kaisei exists at a very critical and precarious position in the story, as the rickety bridge connecting the Shimogamo and Ebisugawa families. Like so much else in this mythology the history of their rivalry has been shared with us a tiny bit at a time, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that it’s a the center of much that’s happened so far. It seems Kaisei’s father Souun married into the Shimogamo family, a deliberate attempt to try and bring them together after what seems to have been a very long feud – indeed, this is the same reason Souichirou arranged for Kaisei to marry Yasaburou. Souun ended that as soon as Souichirou died, but it’s clear that a great mutual affection existed between Kaisei and the Shimogamo family above and beyond the fact that she’s obviously in love with Yasaburou (and we certainly know Yajirou is in love with her). There’s a bit of Romeo and Juliet to the situation now – except that Romeo’s brother is in love with Juliet and Romeo in love with a femme fatale named Benten.

There’s much we don’t know about Benten – I find it fascinating that Kaisei calls her a tengu and Yasaburou doesn’t bat an eye or challenge her. But without a doubt the event – and mystery – around which the entire series orbits is the death of Souichirou. I’ve seen many theories floated about that night – some argue that Souichirou isn’t dead at all, some argue that he arranged his own death because he was simply finished with life in this world and ready to move on. There’s some uncertainty about his comment to Akadama-sensei about “being past the point where he can transform” – and that perhaps his dismay over that led him to decide to end his life. All defensible theories, but none hold water for me. I think Souichirou was already dead or nearly when he said that to the old tengu (tengu are renowned for their ability to speak with spirits) and on his way to the spirit world, which is why he couldn’t transform. This is supported by the fact that he was unable to transform in Benten’s presence (which is a mystery in its own right, and potentially a critical one) and thus avoided her, and the fact that he left Yajirou as a human and ended his life as a tanuki. As for the notion that he faked his death or pre-arranged it, it’s more a matter of intuition than hard evidence – but I feel wholly confident of the former being false, and almost as much of the latter.

No, it seems more and more likely to me that Souun and/or his sons sold Souichirou out to the Kin-youbi Club. They certainly had the most to gain – power in the tanuki community, potentially the Nise-emon position, and the termination of an engagement they didn’t want to see consummated. And it seems very likely that they’re crafting a similar scheme now, with the Nise-emon election due on December 26th (4 days after this episode ends) and only a few days before the end of the year – the final “tanuki hotpot” meeting of the Friday Fellows, as it happens, falls on December 27th this year. Kaisei is obviously torn between the family she owes allegiance to and the one she clearly prefers, and the scene in the sento – where we finally see her face (and a bit more) reveals a girl who’s conflicted and seemingly feeling guilty. Her “I’m sorry” to Yasaburou was exactly as he described it, both puzzling and ominous – I don’t know if she was lying when she told Yasaburou she didn’t know what her family was planning, but she certainly knows things that she didn’t share with her former fiancee.

Indeed, there’s a sort of ominous air to much of this episode, even the somewhat whimsical scene where Yasaburou goes to Yodogawa-sensei’s office for another strange conversation. The disconnect in seeing the way Yasaburou speaks so casually about the boiling of tanuki in a hotpot with one of the men who ate his father is truly jarring, especially given how well the two of them get along and what a sincerely nice guy Yodogawa seems in so many ways (and what was with eating those enormous Baumkuchen as if they were doughnuts?). Benten, meanwhile, remains conspicuously – some might say ominously – absent from the narrative, even as her role as a lynchpin in Souichirou’s death becomes more and more strongly suggested. Does she cry at Yajirou’s well because she was used as part of the plan to capture Souichirou – to keep him from transforming so he couldn’t escape? I couldn’t help but note that Mother very pointedly said “only Souichirou, Akadama-sensei and Benten knew” about the effect Benten had on her husband – but what if, somehow, Souun knew as well? This feels like a warm trail to me, but it leads to a very obvious question – what would motivate Benten to allow herself to be used in such a fashion?

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the end, but I’m pretty sure the dates of the Nise-emon election and the final Kin-youbi meeting of the year aren’t coincidental, and that Kaisei’s apology to Yasaburou was heavy with significance. One of the Shimogamo siblings seems ticketed for that hotpot, and Benten is likely going to be involved again – willingly or not, and it’s hard to imagine her doing anything unwillingly. Which one? Well, Yashirou – sweet, kind Yashirou who “inherited nothing but the innocence” of Souichirou, is the only sibling whose load-bearing role in the story hasn’t been established yet, and my ominous feeling extends more strongly to him than anyone else at the moment. Uchouten Kazoku is, as I’ve stated, more than anything a story about love – and most of all, the love than binds the Shimogamo family together. And I can think of nothing that would prove a greater test of that love than if this turn of events comes to pass, and nothing that would more surely force Yasaburou to abandon his amiable acceptance of life’s twists and turns and become a man in the mold of his father.

 

Preview

Uchouten Kazoku   09   Preview 01 Uchouten Kazoku   09   Preview 02 Uchouten Kazoku   09   Preview 03
September 3, 2013 at 5:53 pm
20 comments »
  • September 3, 2013 at 6:01 pmstarss

    So we are introduced to a much needed type of character to enliven this show- a spunky female below the age of 20. Granted we’re already way into the show and I don’t think we’ll see much more of her, which is a real shame. I love the contemplative nature of the show and I wouldn’t change it for anything, but I just feel like all the scenes that would’ve made it exciting have already taken place in the past. Action vs. talking about the action.

    Also, we get more information for the mystery on how the father wound up being eaten- he loses the power to transform whenever Ben10′s in his presence! That explains things a whole lot better- Ben10 was clearly around when he was being prepared, so we couldn’t escape! Tanuki powers seem to work like a muscle. They can only function if you’re relaxed enough to use them, and disuse results in you being stuck in one form forever. …. of course, the translations say that his powers were “lost” upon being Ben10 for the first time, yet he acted like he was simply flustered by her appearance. Odd. She found his kryptonite!!

  • September 3, 2013 at 6:30 pmRonin8317

    Although it was never written in the novel, it’s obvious that Souichirou fell in love with Ben10 the first time he saw her, thus the inability to transform. Which makes his acceptance of being ‘boiled in a pot’ all the more tragic.

    • September 3, 2013 at 7:51 pmronbb

      I don’t think Souichirou was in love with — or even had a crush on — Benten. To me, it’s more like fear that stopped him from transforming — it’s like how mama Tanuki was so afraid of Raijin-sama that she couldn’t transform. Yasaborou is in love with Benten and has no problem keeping his form in front of her.

    • September 3, 2013 at 11:50 pmThetroll

      Lol, he has a wife and 4 kids.

  • September 3, 2013 at 7:39 pmBear

    Souichirou was probably trying to make a situation that was ignoble seem noble, since Benten was in the room and he couldn’t have transformed if he tried. That also lets Yajirō really off the hook since it really wasn’t his fault that Souichirou was caught. You are probably on the right track with Yashirou (damn it’s hard keeping the names straight) being the “guest of honor” at the hot pot. He’s the one with the least control over his transformation (emphasized by his inability to hide his tail). It’s a shame we won’t have many episodes to see Kaisei. Just the one scene in the bath shows me that she is a character that I want to see more of.

  • September 3, 2013 at 8:05 pmronbb

    Kaisei is quite adorable, and she’s one great stalker. It’s obviously that she has romantic feelings for Yasaborou, but he’s too oblivious to notice — and even mention Benten’s name in front of her…

    I do hope that there won’t be another sacrifice from the Shimogamo family — that will be too sad and heartbreaking. I am curious about what the secret dealings are behind the Ebisugawas and how the Shimogamos are going to overcome the danger, again, as a family…can’t wait for next week.

  • September 3, 2013 at 9:37 pmBaKaYaRou

    Kaisei steal this episode… She’s so cute!!

    Dunno but maybe the uncle is one of the reason Sou was cooked in a hotpot, and planning to sell Yajirou to the friday fellows.. well we will find that out soon..

    My god Yasaburou you have benten and Kaisei, you damn lucky racoon!

    • September 3, 2013 at 10:05 pmstarss

      It’s about time I learn at least 20% of the casts’ names.

  • September 3, 2013 at 10:19 pmagr0n

    Kaisei is allot younger looking than her previous actions made her out be, she’s quite mature most of the time.

  • September 4, 2013 at 12:11 amDave k

    As for the notion that he faked his death or pre-arranged it, it’s more a matter of intuition than hard evidence – but I feel wholly confident of the former being false, and almost as much of the latter.
    There are some things from episode 8 that have me wondering about the latter though: primarily that Souichirou had a plan to resolve Yajiro’s concerns but never vocalized it so we have no idea what it actually was. But, follow that with the knowledge that Sou’s greatest fear was his son’s being split apart, that he had to know if he passed the Ebisugawas would break off the engagement that was causing conflict immediately, and that the end result was to keep the 4 sons together (if somewhat apart), and you really have to stop to consider if sacrificing himself to unite his family was the endgame.

  • September 4, 2013 at 2:16 am^^0nMe

    The introduction of Kaisei was pretty surprising, she looks alot more spiffy than her usual mature behaviour. But what about showing us her Tanuki form? Must be so lovely that you almost want to eat her :P

    I agree on the ominous feeling that there’s a trap for the Nise-emon candidate plotted by the Ebisugawa. Which obviously would cause an all-out war between both families.

    However, since this show is a heavily family-themed, kind-hearted story I’m guessing the following will unfold:
    -Souichiro’s dead was voluntary. The kinyou-club caught an Ebisugawa for the hotpot and he offered to replace the captured one (one of the kids who was too young to remember, maybe Kaisei?). The Ebisugawa will find out eventually and it will bring both families closer.
    -After this discovery it was too late to stop the trap and Yaichiro is captured for the hotpot.
    -Benten somehow plays a big role (seeing her huge influence on all members) in saving Yaichiro and scrapping the tradition of having Tanuki hotpot. Thus atoning for her sins and giving her an opportunity to be with Yasaburo again.
    -Kaisei ends up with Yajiro and turns the frog back into a handsome prince/tanuki :P

    I’m pretty sure most of it will be off the mark, but it would be a rollercoaster ride full of drama and a happy big family ending :D

    • September 4, 2013 at 2:50 amZen

      That would be ideal, wouldn’t it…

    • September 4, 2013 at 7:27 amGuardian Enzo

      Souuchirou volunteering himself to replace Kaisei would certainly be an interesting turn. It would explain her apology, that’s for sure.

      • September 5, 2013 at 12:40 amZen

        I’d be elated if that were in fact the case because it’d mean that I called it way back in episode six but doesn’t it seem a little unlikely now because (If I’m not mistaken) I think Kaisei was alluding to her brothers being involved in some kind of plot while talking to Yasaburou in the bath? Well, maybe the plot was her faked capture or something, we’ll just have to wait and see…

  • September 4, 2013 at 2:23 amblack_cat1

    Good job Enzo, for someone who still not read the novel, your eyes is sharp. You pointed out the biggest plot without much efforts.

    • September 5, 2013 at 10:05 amKunagisa

      There’s actually also a huge revelation in this episode even for people who have read the novel …

  • September 4, 2013 at 5:34 amKF

    … Kaisei is going to be eaten. She will volunteer herself instead of Yaichiro.

    TQ

  • September 4, 2013 at 4:38 pmPeTdo

    I wonder if Benten see Tanuki (soichiro) in his raccoon form so many time , why would she didn’t recognize him and end up eating a Tanuki when she also love Yasaburo ? Just weird !

  • September 4, 2013 at 7:40 pmsealouse

    I wonder if some sort of blackmail is involved to get Benten to go along with the plan to kill Souichirou

  • September 7, 2013 at 11:28 amcook

    Does anyone else get the feeling that it could be the mother to go next given the prof’s love for eating what he loves coupled with his desperation to find someone to cook? I only bring it up becuase she’d be the one that i would go for to break the brothers apart given the statement(i think it was last episode) “we were all bound togeather with a great love of our mother”..meh im probably waaaay off.