「ニダイムの帰郷」 (Nidaimu no kikyou)
“The Nidaime’s Homecoming”
This is a good season for sequels, no question about it. With Boku no Hero Academia, Natsume Yuujinchou and Kyoukai no Rinne out there the competition is damn steep, but this show might just be the one I was most looking forward to. It’s not as though the first season of Uchouten Kazoku was perfect – there were a couple of minor ebbs, and the ending arc wasn’t the strongest side the series displayed. But it was also a show that featured a couple of episodes I consider to be among the very best in anime, especially the eighth (I can count on one hand the anime episodes that moved me as much as that one did). Any show that can impact me on that level has my full attention from day one.
It’s been almost four years since the first season of Uchouten ended, but I found myself slipping back into the universe it creates pretty quickly. Without any question the city of Kyoto is a character in its own right here, just as it is in all of Morimi Tomihiko’s works, and that helps. It would be hard to overstate the emotional hold Kyoto has on me – it’s no exaggeration to say it’s my favorite place on Earth. It’s highly emotional for me to watch this series now, having lived in Kyoto for a time – more so than in the first season I feel a jolt of recognition with every scene change, each one bringing with it the memories I have of that street, that building, that Shrine.
This season of Uchouten Kazoku is off to a pretty measured start – there’s a lot of re-introduction and scene-setting going on here. I had to double-check my reaction to be sure I remembered correctly, but the first season started off that way too – and there’s a reason for that. The Eccentric Family is not a series that attacks you head-on. Rather, it seduces you – with the beauty of its scenery, with the quirky charm of its characters, with the subtle elegance of its plot. This is a pretty mature series to begin with, but shortcuts simply wouldn’t work with this material – the experience would be cheapened to an extent that it held little emotional power.
The head of the Shimogamo clan of tanuki (it’s already been a great year for tanuki in anime) is one of those dead characters that holds major sway over the ones left behind, and it’s fitting that we began with an homage to Shouichirou-sama. It’s clear some time has passed since we left Kyoto, but not too much – Yashirou is still a short-pants bozu and Yasaburou a gangly teen (though he smokes now – that’s new, isn’t it?). Benten, Uchouten’s great femme fatale, is missing – having left for a cruise around the world to allay her boredom. She’s left a hole in Akadama-san’s life, and in Yasaburou’s heart. The latter has filled in for Benten in looking after the old man, and in his spare time is engaged in a hunt for the elusive tsuchinoko with his little brother.
There are reminders here that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Tengu are still imperious and still squabble incessantly, and tanuki still defer out of self-preservation to these “greater” beings. But there’s new stuff too, perhaps most significant being the arrival of the Nidaimae (Majima Junji). He seems to be the Nakadama’s son (though it’s interesting that he tells Yasaburou that he’t not a tengu). He and his father apparently fought a century earlier, and when the Nakadama defeated him Nidaimae left Kyoto. His return signals a confrontation – these are tengu after all – despite Yasaburou’s best efforts to prevent it, and that seems to be the focus of the first arc this season.
There are some other seeds planted – like the mysterious “X” on the sheet of paper in Nakadama’s box of postcards from Benten – but for now, Uchouten Kazoku is primarily concerned with slipping back into its fictional setting like a comfortable old suit of clothes. It’s great to have it back, and not much has changed. It is immediately apparent in the backgrounds and animation that the budget is substantially lower this time around, but when you consider that this series generated little in disc, merchandising or licensing revenue (this sequel exists mainly due to the popularity of the source novels) I’m certainly not going to worry too much about that – it feels like a miracle of good fortune that it exists at all. This was a very good premiere, but with Uchouten Kazoku that’s only a teaser for what may follow.
ED: 「ムーンリバ」 (Moon River) by (fhána)
Surely this is a great season for sequels – we got Hero Academia, Titans, Saekano, even Bahamut and many others. It’s good to see that some great shows got their continuations, especially the ones that premiered a while ago, like Uchouten.
Honestly I loved how they handled the first episode – we got some nice re-introduction (since it is like 3-4 years since the original airing of first season?), but also not too much. We got old characters doing foolish things, new characters being intriguing (for unknown reason Nidaimae reminds me of Kaiki from Monogatari, but that might be just my sick imagination). Overall it delivered quite a lot of plot as for first ep, but also let viewers to refresh what happened in the past. Pretty much well done. I just hope that Benten won’t be missing for too long…
The ending sequence crushed me. I know Yasaburou will never end up with Benten (especially since, y’know, she ate his dad), but seeing him stare after Benten and Nidaime…!
Feels. Too much feels.
I don’t think it’s Nidaime. If you look closely you can see white hair sticking out on the left side and the only one with that hairstyle is his father. We don’t really know yet what kind of relationship Benten has with Nidaime so I wouldn’t rush into any conclusion yet.
Anyway thanks for blogging this Enzo 🙂 I missed this show so much! I really loved the flashback at the beginning and seeing (most) of the characters back and new interesting ones. I have high expectation for this show!
That scene where Benten cut her hair—!
I really wanna know what happen between her and Niidaime!
It really opens to a lot of rooms for discussions whenever it comes to Benten and the EDs for both seasons in Uchouten Kazoku. They always trying to keep her mysterious and hidden with some aura of sadness especially in season 2 ED.
Ah…Spring has never been better.
He smoked in the 1st ep of season one too, AFAIR.
Yes, he’s smoking in the scene where he’s talking to the professor. And he’s also transformed himself into a girl. Later on he’s drinking in a bar so I assume he’s of legal age?
God bless anime! And tanukis, and Morimi sensei, and Kouji Kumeta and… (add P.A. Works, background designer, Kyouto, Japan and everything comes to mind here)
Too good to be true. After four boring years Shimogamo Yasaburou and crew are back, and awesomely.
The first scene was unexpected: an entire drama masterfully condensed in a few cuts.
The follwing family scene skillfully dismisses the main topic of the past season and indirectly leads us to the new arch.
And then, and then…
I was kind of sad that Benten is traveling around the world and not appear this season. However, based on the ed, it looks like she is going to be back later in the season. It will be weird if they put her in the ed, and not let her appear this season.