“Autumn Leaf Viewing”
Wow, that episode was informative. Not only did we gain important clarification and insight into the Professor’s view of eating things you love, but we also learned much about Benten’s ambiguous nature and why she acts the way she does. That well is going to get pretty salty at this rate, as we move past the halfway point of this series from confusion to illumination.
First, the professor’s dialogue. It’s pretty weird how Yasaburo can keep calm in practically every situation he’s been in so far–I would personally go crazy if I was constantly under psychological stress from all the talk of Tanuki eating and my dad dying. However, Yasaburo is defined by how he seeks to live an interesting life, a life that he’ll take as calmly as he can. However, even Yasaburo himself is surprised at how calmly he can be around the professor and Benten–even as potential predators that played a hand in killing his father, they seem…likable. The professor sees the world in a “circle of life” sort of view, where we are all eventually destined to return to our elementary states. As such, he believes that it is the greatest flattery to be nourished by the things that you treasure in this world, as well as to nourish the ones that you love. It’s the same line of thinking when people voluntarily donate their organs after death, or how characters in Gin no Saji have to face the fact that the livestock that they cherish will be used to nourish society. It’s an understandable view from the perspective of the top of the chain, but an almost dreadful point of view from anyone lower on that chain with a conscience. If not for the professor’s sadness that he would taste nasty to a Tanuki, such discussion seems completely insensitive to those struggling to avoid consumption. Even with the mutual feeling of wanting to nourish your loved ones, the thought is still fairly insensitive, as the act of eating someone essentially means cutting off their life short against their free will. Although Nise-emon Shimogamo was content with his life, it is clear that his family was not prepared to say goodbye. You could say it was a selfish thing for Father Shimogamo to stay alive, for he exchanged many more years of happiness with his family for one night of pleasure for a small group of people, all because he felt he was content. Alas, if he were not eaten though, it would’ve been another Tanuki that would have fallen to that same fate, and if not a Tanuki, then another living thing would’ve fallen to the hotpot. It’s a complicated decision, one that I personally disagree with, but at least now we have a feeling as to why such a powerful Tanuki didn’t simply escape, and as to why the Professor cherishes eating those he loves.
With that being said, we can now focus on Benten, who actually has a pretty messed up past to back up her current behavior. First, she was randomly kidnapped, without much fanfare, by a certain Professor Akadama who found her to be captivating. Forced to abandon her current way of life to learn the way of the Tengu, it was amazing that she kept her cool, even up to the moment that she first met Yasaburo as illustrated in episode one. However, it seems a variety of events after meeting Yasaburo caused her change of heart, of which we know of at least two. The first would be the Great Demon Cedar incident, which stripped away her captor, but also at that point her teacher and caretaker, Professor Akadama from flying ever again. Though she denies feeling for the incident, it is probably more precise to say that she wants to deny the incident happened, as her feelings on it are probably conflicting revenge and guilt. The second event reveals itself to be more humanizing of Benten, and one that could’ve easily been overlooked this episode–I myself didn’t notice it until someone on a forum emphasized the fact to me. There is a good possibility that Benten was not aware at the time that she would be eating Yasaburo’s father, which would explain much as to why she would so willingly eat the father of someone she loves. The possibility reveals itself in Souhichirou’s actions while in captivity. He stays completely quiet while Benten is around, even though Benten is open to conversation, but as soon as she falls asleep, Souichirou has one last conversation with the Professor, where he even reveals his identity. After this, Benten wakes up, quickly prompting Father Shimogamo to play dumb once more, presumably to hide his identity to Benten.
Why he would allow Benten to consume him is still unclear, but the hints heavily suggest that Benten would only find out afterwards of the gravity of her actions, which probably prompted a serious change in her personality. That is perhaps part of the reason why we see her crying next to the well–she perhaps is unable to forgive herself for committing such an act, and is unable to apologize for her actions. That denial is also probably why she hangs out with the nastier characters of the show, such as continuing to be with the Friday Fellows, hanging out with the nastier Tengu, and of course the nastier part of the Ebisugawa family. It is with them that she doesn’t have to face the reality of her past because frankly, she doesn’t care about them at all. They are merely a means of escape, rather than any actual people her life is invested in.
Hopefully we do return to Benten’s past soon, because now another arc is about to begin–one that will pit the Shimogamo and Ebisugawa families against one another, as well as their supporters, for the important position of Nise-emon. In exchange though, hopefully we finally get to shed some light on Kaisei’s relationship with the rest of the cast and, if we’re lucky, get to see her in a form that’s not an inanimate object!
Benten is one dangerous cocktail
There is also the possibility that she was pushed to choose Soichiro for that hotpot.
Because right now she is allied with the kurama tengu. And as we know, the kurama tengu most likely have a grudge against a certain mountain shapshifting tanuki…
This anime conflicts my mind so dayum much. Personally i am still against the fact humans think it’s just fine to eat tanuki despite the fact these creatures are intelligent beings that have lives that practically mirror humans. Benten is still someone i can’t find myself to like simply because i can’t come to terms with expressing your love for someone by eating them.
The old guy Yasaburo was talking with had me hating him last episode too but he made quite the perplexing statements in this episode that changed my opinion of him a bit. He’s not as coldhearted as i first thought and his opinion prey and predator was very…………eh weird. He admits that he feels bad about eating the creatures he loves and wouldn’t mind being eaten by Tanuki instead of dying lonely in a hospital. This man is very strange but in a oddly psychological way.
I don’t like the fathers decision to let himself be eaten just because he felt he accomplished all he needed too but like Zani said it’s likely someone else would have been eaten in his place otherwise. I’d say it’s entirely possible that he only says this to make it easier to come to terms with being eaten. I’m sure that he really didn’t wish to leave his family but he made a valet sacrifice and needed something keep his mind calm in his last hours.
Maybe what pisses me off the most is that such a great character like Yasaburo might end up getting eaten by the time this is all said and done by such a fickle girl as Benten. No matter how i look at it the whole situation it’s depressing.
Not to say that’s a bad thing as this anime has certainly been one of my favorites because i want see more on the whole Tanuki being eaten by humans scenario came about in the first place and what will end up happening to these characters in the end.
After watching this episode I’m not sure that most humans know that Tanuki are intelligent and can talk. The old guy seemed to be surprised that he had the conversation with Soichiro and treats it like it was some dream. He clearly did not know that Yasaburo was a Tanuki and thought that Benten could do the same type of tricks.
Benten clearly knows, but the rest of the Friday Fellows I’m not so sure.
I feel no sympathy for Benten, she’s a very interesting character, but not a sympathetic one like most people seem to think she is.
I’m more curious as to why the friday fellows don’t seem to realize the tanuki are self-aware, and intelligent.
Benten knows this, and could easily tell the Friday Fellows.
The tanukis could also just as easily approach them and try to talk reason into them.
So why don’t they?
The rules of the world of this show are not easily discernible. We have tanuki which are shape shifters and yet one of the most powerful is easily captured and eaten. We mostly see them in human form, so how do they allow themselves to be taken in their actual form? One even turns into a fire escape ladder (!?). The Friday Fellows don’t appear to have powers such as Benten’s and don’t even realize that the tanuki are shape shifters. Yasuboro appears to be afraid of being the guest of honor in a hot pot, even though he himself is not powerless.
Benten. Ah, I think she cries because of loneliness. She has the powers of a tengu, but is not of that race. She is human, but cut off from her family and humanity because her powers make her an outsider. She has no one who can be a romantic partner. Old men and tengu lust after her but the only one near her age who is attracted to her (and vice versa) is a slacker tanuki. A stranger in a strange land who has a lot in common with a certain Valentine Michael Smith.
I’m not so certain that he was actually captured. For all we know and with how this show is such a skinflint when it comes to explaining things it might have been an act of self-sacrifice. Perhaps one of the Ebisugawa children was captured or something and he willingly traded places with the younger tanuki who had yet to live the “full life” that he was constantly rambling on about to the professor. Hell, maybe it was the Ebisugawa’s little girl Kaisei, Yasaburou’s would-be fiance, which is why she’s still nice to the Shimogamos, and even seems to go out of of the way to help them from time to time. But we’ll see…
I don’t think Yasaburou’s such a bad guy. She might just feel guilty for being involved in the death of his father or something, and she won’t allow herself to truly draw close to him because she feels that what she did was unforgivable. Perhaps she’ll realize by the end that he loves her too much to care and the ice will thaw…
This ep answered many questions that i brought up last week. Good on them.
Ben10 crying at the end makes her all the more intriguing to me. God only knows what caused her to change so much.
I found it creepy that an old man like hotei is in love with benten and even follows her without invitation like a horny dog… ughh
this is like EL SID to me! Will you choose to abandon glory and reputation (Friday fellow) or will you kill your lover’s father and eat him in Nabe!
Something a little bit more lighthearted.
Kaisei’s icon according to the official twitter hahahaha.
I am getting Silence of the Lambs vibes XD
Wow… that’s quite some Dr. Phil-ing going on for someone who obviously clueless about Japanese culture.
Is there something lost in translation? I don’t get it, why can’t they defend themselves instead of just saying, “Oh well, I’m a tanuki, it happens?” You can turn into metallic objects and discharge electricity through your hands, but you can’t defend yourself from humans? Is there supposed to be some sort of philosophical message here or is there something coming up that’s supposed to explain what’s going on?
BTW, put on all the ethereal background music you want, Benten’s still a dick. She’s gotta have a hell of a backstory to make me think otherwise.
After this episode, I’m more ensured that Yajirou is very wise tanuki, maybe second wisest in Shimogamo family. His words when he’s talking about Benten makes me thinking whether somehow he could see deeper into her self. That makes me curious, why he became a frog in the well? I can’t believe it’s intentional from him.
Anyway, next episode will be tanuki clan clash again. Can’t wait to see the progress in Nise-emon election.
This is so weird I’ve fallen for this show. It’s not really my type of anime. But its just so darn good!
Kind of mystified still how can these powerful little Tanuki creatures get caught by normal humans and eaten. But I am glad this episode shed some light on how the father got captured and eaten.