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Uchouten Kazoku – 13 (END)

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「有頂天家族」 (Uchouten Kazoku)
“The Eccentric Family”

What a spectacular ending. Just lovely. P.A. Works, you’ve done a good job on delivering a very satisfying ending to a very unique series. Congratulations on completing another series! *the party ball falls* It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to a series that has treated its viewers well to the very end. The slowly unraveling plots, the constant character development, and the sheer deadpan absurdity, all of it will be missed.

First, I applaud the episode for clearly illustrating the true power of the Friday Fellows–nothing, really. Through tradition, scare tactics, and just being human, the Friday Fellows were a group that could do as it pleased without opposition. However, in reality they held no power, where the only opposition the Friday Fellows could offer were some harsh words, heckling, and the repeated use of, “Shut up!” Though they are quite an intimidating group to be shouted at, once the smoke clears and someone has the guts to actually oppose them, the whole image of their power falls to pieces. As Stilts would put it, their realpolitik shattered thanks to well…basic decency.

Hotei, with his love for Tanuki, was most likely a confused soul trying to reconcile his love for Tanuki and his involvement with the Friday Fellows. To eat is to love, he claims, but to not eat is also a way to love. Beforehand, Hotei was probably aware of this second option to love dearly, but the confusion from his moral dilemma in justifying killing overshadowed this. However, since Mother Yasaburou is loved so much by many, it gave Hotei the eyes necessary to see that well…not eating your love is a good way to love them as well, and that no one should force you to make the choice.

These chains of events start to mix with the other rooms though, which brings me to my second point–I love the way that Tanuki and Tengu are portrayed to the very end. The Tanuki will always be idiotic (even when trying to escape, they can’t hold a transformation long enough to open a door), and the Tengu will always be hot-headed and ‘high and mighty’. Oh yes, there are many exceptions to this rule, such as the stealthy Kaisei and other calmer Tengu professors, but as a whole, each race cannot remove the traits that pervade their blood. It is the story’s perfect blending of these ridiculous traits into human behavior that makes for some interesting character interactions, especially when races collide. In fact, everyone gets blown away by the whole fiasco…heh heh. In all seriousness, seeing each of the races interact with one another and even influence one another was a beautiful thing to see. To see Professor Akadama act soft yet brash around the Tanuki he cares about, to see Yasaburo keep his cool even in the face of a hotpot, to see Benten freak everyone out–it all was surreal yet at the same time plausible and thought provoking. If there was a world out there with irrational Tanuki and loud Tengu, I’m sure it’d be close to the world that Uchouten Kazoku has painted.

Finally, I wish to point out Benten and Yasaburo, whose thought processes and past still remain a mystery to this day. Though I could start forming new hypotheses about them now that the show is over, without a clear sight into the events that brought them to the present, it’d be mostly for moot. Instead, I give the series a thumbs up for making these two characters a sight to see, while also giving us leeway to make our own conclusions about their behavior. With Benten switching back from the Friday Fellows to a more positive group of people and Yasaburou wishing for a small amount of glory for his family, it’s clear that while these two characters are wildly different, their desire for an interesting and exciting life is the same. Where Benten actively chases and catalyzes the events necessary for an interesting life, such a life conveniently finds itself into Yasaburo’s daily activities without any effort on his part. Where Benten will conveniently save the day and grant mercy when the time arises (except for when it came to Souichirou, a puzzling aspect I still can’t figure out), Yasaburo has to resort to sly diplomacy and constantly walk a tightrope to keep his family together. However, the concept of an interesting life binds these two together, making for a very unlikely, unorthodox, but strangely fitting couple. Though I do cheer for Kaisei to show her face one day to Yasaburo, the human and the Tanuki seem a better fit, despite how Benten may not admit it.

As for flaws…there aren’t many if you think about it. Some people did complain about Yajirou’s sudden jump out of the well thanks to alcohol, but I think that the circumstance of a family in danger is a good enough catalyst to have alcohol do its job. Now, this show isn’t for everyone, that is unarguable–the show is a bit slower paced and less action-filled than most–but in terms of actual flaws, not much can be found. Things could’ve only gotten better with a longer story, but what we’ve been given here is just great in itself. Every character is fleshed out appropriately, the story expands at a constant pace, and by golly, the show made me laugh so many times during the end, more times than most comedies do. Uchouten Kazoku is a special gem that doesn’t come around often, exploring the themes of family, non-romantic love, and the morality of eating anyone. It expanded a side of Kyoto that is charming in its presentation as well as the eccentric lifestyle that each person faces. It was all like a Ghibli movie, except in episodic form, which served the story nicely–never was there a moment that the storyboard seemed force from an awkward transition to the screen.

While it’s not going to make any AOTY’s anytime soon, I’m sure all of us who have made it to the end have a special place for Uchouten Kazoku for this year in anime. It sought to tell a story of fantastical Kyoto and family, and it did it excellently. Thank you dear reader for following along to the end, and I hope to see you guys next season as well!

Epilogue:

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End Card

Uchouten Kazoku   13   End Card
September 29, 2013 at 7:36 pm
44 comments »
  • September 29, 2013 at 7:49 pmRIAI

    Well, that was a nice ride. An OVA or three will do wonders for closure, though.

  • September 29, 2013 at 7:59 pmMagoiichi

    All good things must come to an end ;/.

  • September 29, 2013 at 8:04 pmPTYW

    My heart feels fuzzy

    now i just need a couple of OVA, a second Season and one movie to recap both seasons then another as a closure.

  • September 29, 2013 at 8:22 pmtenshika

    thank you so much for blogging this! it’s been a really enjoyable show and reading good reviews pointing out its good points are always satisfying

  • September 29, 2013 at 8:24 pmAlec

    Wish they elaborated more about the romantic subplot, but oh well, it’s still awesome.

    Man, I was like “****!” when my tears were flowing

  • September 29, 2013 at 8:27 pmshini012

    This was a wonderful ride… I don’t know what to do with my life, now that it is over.
    No other series pervaded my thoughts like Uchouten Kazoku did. I would think about future character and plot development. It is definitely the best of the series and I daresay my favorite series of the season.
    I hope to see a season 2 once the second volume of the novel series has been released. It would be a wonderful spectacle. All the fun must be right.

    • September 30, 2013 at 4:13 amSean

      I had a similar sort of melancholy upon finishing the last episode. Every episode that came out has been the highlight of my week and the anime has really drawn me in. However, after thinking back on the themes and motifs of the show I now feel the invigoration to live my life to the fullest. I think in the end that’s what the show was trying to portray, which really came together at the shrine with Yasaburou being content with his life.

  • September 29, 2013 at 9:06 pmlvlln

    What a wonderful, wonderful ending to a great show. Easily PA Works’s best. It was constructed just so well, building up the characters and their relationships until the final act when everything came together and escalated beyond control. I liked how quickly things devolved at the restaurant, capped by one of the funniest sequence of events I’ve seen as the professor let loose with the fan almost indiscriminately. This show made good on its premise, bringing us some truly awesome and hilarious fantasy situations, like the fireworks battle over Kyoto.

    It was no Tatami Galaxy, but this author’s talent certainly shone through. Perhaps not THE anime of the year, but I’d place it top 5, easily so far.

  • September 29, 2013 at 9:24 pmZen

    Whatever happened to Soun? He seemed to have disappeared after the whole incident- did he perhaps submit himself to the Friday Fellow’s hot pot out of guilt- having said to his daughter that he was going to the (Euphemism?) “hot spings?”

    • September 29, 2013 at 9:37 pmMagoiichi

      He was definitely sent straight to the Hot Pot. Whether it was willingly done by him is unknown.

  • September 29, 2013 at 9:28 pmBear

    Benten…oh, Benten. Powerful, enigmatic, beautiful, an object of lust desire, and scary. What are your true feelings? Are you in love with Yasaburo? Is a relationship between human and tanuki even possible in your world? Do you have regrets about Sou? Why were you crying at the well?

    Kaisei who do you love? How old are you anyway?

    Will Yajirou ever stop being a frog? It’s not easy being green, you know.

  • September 29, 2013 at 9:36 pmFlaiboy

    Thank you so much for blogging this series! So fun to read about how others are enjoying this show.

    I must say I had a sense of dread going into the final episode; I was afraid the family would suffer some sort of tragic end. I much prefer this pleasant ending where there are so many questions left to answer to one where the answers are given as beloved characters are suffering loss.

    Benten . . . why am I softening toward her character when I was shouting “No mercy!” at my screen just a few short episodes ago? I guess I don’t understand myself let alone her.

    My top series of this season for sure!

    • September 29, 2013 at 10:48 pmZanibas

      No one can get Benten now. She has a part in eating their dad, but is happy to oblige in assisting everyone else in the family. Either we’re missing some key information here, or Benten has an interesting thought process to her.

      Also, thanks for reading :3

      • September 30, 2013 at 8:35 amBear

        Think of a Greek goddess. Sometimes helpful, sometimes arbitrary, sometimes vengeful, and sometimes just cruel. They play by their own rules.

  • September 29, 2013 at 9:41 pmsenefen

    I liked this. I liked this more than SnK’s brutal battle and going out with a bang. The final confrontation was a mess and general chaos, nothing epic about it but with a lot more heart and it suited the series well. Feels like it ends with a sort of ‘life goes on, still interesting and a little bit brighter’.

  • September 29, 2013 at 9:46 pmJel

    Thanks for all your insight throughout the series, Zanibas. It seems difficult to blog a slice-of-life show without repeating yourself all the time, but I think you did an excellent job.

    Just wanted to say since I never really commented at RC about this show, but I really loved the Kyoto references sprinkled throughout. I know that it’s obviously supposed to be set in Kyoto, but little things like the Shimogamo shrine being their family name, to Ginkaku and Kinkaku named after their respective (Golden/Silver) Pavilions.

    My favorite part of this had to be Yajiro speaking to his mother through the phone for the first time since Soichiro died, and when Kaisei was acting shy around Yasaburo and not showing her face, even though she was right next to him. Hotei recognizing the Mama-Shimogamo was also quite nice.

    Hope we can get an OVA episode about Benten, and possibly some closure about how Yasaburo feels towards her.

    Also, is there a reason that Yajiro won’t shapeshift (without alcohol)? Is he staying as a frog because he feels as if he should for the shame and punishment of “killing” his father?

    • September 29, 2013 at 10:44 pmZanibas

      Thanks for coming out of the woodwork to comment, and thanks for the thanks! ^^

    • September 30, 2013 at 1:57 pmBear

      taking him at his word, I think his transforming skills are rusty and somewhat psychologically blocked. Even if he realizes intellectually that it wasn’t his fault, he still subconsciously and emotionally blames himself for his father’s death.

  • September 29, 2013 at 9:59 pmKira526

    This was the biggest surprise of the season for me. I decided to start watching it on a whim and thank god for that! I never could have imagined the amount of love I would develop for this show. I found it simply quirky yet entertaining after the first episode, but it transformed into so much more. I laughed, I cried, and I even yelled a few times! This anime was truly magical (no pun intended… well maybe a little). It’s always a genuine pleasure as an anime fan to come across such a uniquely beautiful series. I’m definitely going to miss this one for a while.

    And of course, thank you for all your posts Zanibas! They’re always appreciated :3

    • September 29, 2013 at 10:47 pmZanibas

      My sentiments as well! It was definitely interesting from the first episode, but as it lulled me in slowly each episode, I found myself emotionally resonating with the show.

      Thanks for the thanks! The appreciation goes both ways ^_^!

  • September 29, 2013 at 10:25 pmPetitorenji

    I want an OVA that focuses on Benten. She’s too much of an intriguing char to be let go like that.

  • September 29, 2013 at 10:28 pmGS

    Kaisei is the best tanuki.

  • September 29, 2013 at 11:00 pmigniteous

    It was a FINE anime and a GREAT ending but…

    I dislike deliberate loose ends.
    I’m fine with the ending as long as the protagonist family survive and are happy. They’re in better shape at the end than they were at the beginning now that nii-san frog-san is out of the well. So it is happy. But still, in the end, I could not smile at the man who ate my father. I could not be polite and still have a crush on the woman who took my father to a group to be eaten and enjoyed the feast alongside them. But that is supposedly the tanuki nature of accepting the way things are, I guess. Or their idiot blood.
    But then what do I know… I’m a nasty human. :)

  • September 29, 2013 at 11:17 pmSirius

    Benten killed their dad, destroying their family and causing a lot of pain to a lot of people but everything is ok now? Nope…

    • September 30, 2013 at 12:03 amGeoff

      Humans are proud creatures by nature.

      Maybe she was young, and easily manipulated. And as she grew, she realized just how bad she’d been had.

      But of course, no one likes to say they dropped the ball. This might be her way to helping out. She never directly helped, but whenever the events were rolling, she nudged them forward in whatever direction helped out.

  • September 30, 2013 at 12:03 amJin

    I wish there was some sort of closure with Benten sama, no questions answered as to why she was crying at the well… Ah well I loved this series regardless. Hope there is another season or at least an ova or two.

  • September 30, 2013 at 12:20 amOasis

    same here, it has a speical place for me too. it was lovely story, to me I got the feeling..that the friday group is over..even though we only get a chat about how the guy was kick out, but it show how he no longer wish to be part of them..so it show sighs of changes and even the old men said it. how he was sick tired of them and blew the whole house down.. ^^

    although to me I would have like them to just say it out loud that the friday group is no more or something =P, but i get the thinking out of the box meaning, of whole the old men leaving the group and so on ^^ also on a side note, I enjoy the little credit ending.seeing the mom help the poor and people getting along.which is also the big meaning of positive people.^^

  • September 30, 2013 at 1:28 amSmokex365

    I only started watching this because I make a habit out of watching at least 1 episode of every show each season. What I came in thinking nothing of became one of my favorite series this season (perhaps this year). Anyone who didn’t give this a chance missed out.

  • September 30, 2013 at 2:31 amthedarktower

    it was good experiment of studio P.A. obviously the show did an everyday life comedy with a bit interest near the end. it was quite refreshing among other series of those genres and in particular of studio P.A which so far focused on anime about teenagers like hanasaku, true tears and even RDG.
    I’ll forever be disturb by those ears, but put that aside, the animation was good – also good experiment and experience for studio P.A in the aspect of animation especially sakuga.
    I think they’re ready to knock us down with Nagi no Askura this fall.

    I enjoyed the series and really liked the ending. moreover, last episodes were very intriguing. not choosing Nise-Emon at the end was wise decision. it allowed fun as a viewer until the very end.
    sasuge PA!

  • September 30, 2013 at 5:11 amYES_YES_YES

    oh (bleep) knew all 3 different group all (bleep) gonna break loose & it did sure going tiger mode attack evil uncle then one guy quite friday group cause female tanuki which running cause whole room expose of tanuki.

    yet cue old tengu go wild on everything give it take ben 10 to calm him down yet everything fine the eccentric family is safe & sound cue new year yep everything back to normal in their way.

  • September 30, 2013 at 6:26 amDvalinn

    Aw man, the final episode…I’ll miss this show. But what a final episode it was…I daresay it was the best final ep this season, fittingly for one of my favourite shows as well. It was a delight to see the entire thing descend into complete and utter chaos, whether it’s the tanuki forgetting themselves and confusing the heck out of the humans, or the Friday Fellows being revealed as nothing more than a bunch of haughty old men, or of course professor Akadama going nuts and showing just how much power a tengu has. Not to mention that the show never forget its characters while it did it, topping off a lot of character development – Yajiro finally reconnecting with his family, Benten leaving the Friday fellows and reconciling with her mentor, and Hotei choosing to do what’s right. Oh, and Soun totally exposing himself, and either skipping town, losing all or getting boiled alive (either is fine, really). Har har har.

    Either way, this is one of these little gems that are hidden amongst the pile every season. When I started this, I had no expectations whatsoever – another lame fantasy show, just check the first episode and ditch it, I thought – but it had a strange attraction to me, and sticking with it definitely paid off. As far as making me care about characters, this show was at the top, together with Watamote, and as far as worldbuilding went it was also pulled off really well (and it looked freaking gorgeous). P.A. Works deserves a plume for that, really. Can’t think of any flaws for this show either, so this one will certainly be getting a place in my top-of-the-year list.

  • September 30, 2013 at 10:43 ammianghuei

    Yasaburo never got to see Kaisei at the end….sad…

    Can’t believe she is way shorter than him.

  • September 30, 2013 at 10:58 amKaioshin Sama

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    • September 30, 2013 at 1:04 pmScruffy

      You know .. if you’re going to comment on an episode by first saying you haven’t watched it then your credibility is immediately down the toilet!

      Not much happening … hmm .. mundane daily life .. so like plots to murder your family and flying trains happen in your daily life?

    • September 30, 2013 at 1:21 pmronbb

      Echoing Scruffy here, and I was about to say that you should really know your stuff — and finish the anime — before you voice your comment; otherwise, you are just making false judgement here.

    • September 30, 2013 at 8:56 pmPocarisweat

      If this was sunrise, kaoishin would be all over it but alas it isn’t and its popular so bash bash bash.

    • October 2, 2013 at 8:05 amtenshika

      it’s ok if it doesn’t suit your tastes but judging other people who are watching this because they like it is, obviously, rude

  • September 30, 2013 at 1:17 pmronbb

    Thanks Zanibas for blogging my favourite show of the season — you often have different observations that make reading your posts interesting. BTW, cute profile pic of Benten.

    Uchouten has many things that make me love it dearly. Aside from the stunningly beautiful visuals and gorgeous BGM, I love how neatly woven and touching the story is and how natural and real the characters are. It makes you laugh, cry, and worried — I had no idea that what came off as slice-of-life could blend fantasy, comedy, and drama so well into the story and drew so much emotions out from me. I also love the themes about love, life, death, and family that the show touches on. All in all, Uchouten, to me, is the best of the season. It probably may not be the AoTY — SSY has seized that spot in my view — but it’s definitely a top 5 of 2013 for me.

  • September 30, 2013 at 11:31 pmTensai Otaku

    WTF she gave their father as a hot pot, ate him, and at the end was sitting by their side as nothing happened…WTF….stop smoking piles of Weed writers ^^

  • October 1, 2013 at 12:27 amHaseo

    Just amazing but i wished kaisei would have gotten off of her high horse and just let Yasburo see her all ready. I still don’t know why she doesn’t want to be seen nor was it established why she liked to hide in the first place.

  • October 1, 2013 at 1:49 amrufe

    A lot was left unexplained. I don’t know if the novel covers them or not…

    I would say that humans get at least 1 for eating a tanuki every year.

    Overall, that was a great ride. Gorgeous animation, story telling, and voice acting. A great all around package.

  • October 1, 2013 at 2:12 pmShrubbery

    Well done on final episodes P.A. Works, you’ve managed to make a great ending to a series this time. I’m always intriged by animes from P.A. Works, but this one is definetly among their best. The way you build the characters, especially Benten and Yasaburo, the art, the music, all beautiful. And offcourse how the mystery about Benten remains, which makes her such an interesting character

    I enjoyed Uchouten Kazuko a lot, and it’ll be on my list for AOTY :D

  • October 3, 2013 at 7:10 pmHawk2276

    Where was my Kaisei and Yasaburo meeting