「欧羅巴の香り」 (Youroppa no Kaori)
“The Scent of Europe”

Uchouten Kazoku remains a wondrous rumination on all that’s mystical and magical in the world, set in one of the world’s most mystical and magical places. I’ve noted before that uniqueness on its own does not make a series a success, and that’s certainly true. But there can just as certainly be no doubt that Uchouten Kazoku is indeed unique in anime – it follows its own path, and has a remarkable ability to make us want to follow behind it.

There was never any question that Benten was going turn up sooner rather than later. She’s a character who has a tremendous impact on the narrative whether she’s physically a part of it or not – even her absence is a presence. But present she is, turning up to foil Tenmaya’s existential torture of Yasaburou. I haven’t yet figured out whether Tenmaya is truly evil, or merely mischievious – a kind of trickster God (or “cheater” as he calls himself). But he blames Benten for his hellish troubles – though at the same time, hardly denies he’s as smitten with her as every other male in this series.

There will be much more of this subplot to come, of that we can be certain. But for the moment the story takes a rather enchanting detour, as Tousen and Yasaburou head off to Tanukidani Fudoin Shrine to visit her mother. The Eccentric Family is only too happy to give us exposition without explanation, and “Mother” is certainly a mysterious figure – certainly quite unlike any tanuki I’ve ever seen. Is she literally Tousen’s mother, or a kind of general tanuki Goddess?

Whatever she is, Grandmother (Koyama Mami) is full of intriguing wisdom – telling Yasaburou that the flow of the world’s water is constricted, and it will be on him to help fix it. She also tells Yasaburou to cause “plenty of mischief” (one suspects that won’t be a problem), and offers some medicine to help Yajirou regain his transformation skills – which was the original reason for the visit in the first place.

The third act of this free-associative episode brings the Nidaime back into the picture – and Benten, too. Nidaime is another of those characters whose true nature and place in the story remain a mystery. He’s moved into a former tanuki villa belonging to Suou-san, having been sold it by Ginkaju and Kinkaju. He’s the picture of refined courtesy when Yasaburou and Yashirou come to pay their respects, even gifting Yashirou a pair of safety goggles (is the mention of electromagnetism and Yashirou’s interest in it some sort of foreshadowing, I wonder?). But the Nidaime never makes it less than clear that his kindness is just a courtesy, and that his guests should never forget their place.

I suppose it was inevitable that the haughty and imperious Nidaime should butt heads with the egomaniacal Benten at some point (especially given her relationship with his father), and this promises to be a memorable clash of wills. Again we don’t know if there’s a history here – Benten merely arrives at the Nidaime’s doorstep (or more accurately, windowsill) unannounced and stakes out a place on his precious chaise lounge. What follows reeks of foreboding – Nidaime puts Benten in her place (namely the floor) in memorable fashion, dumping her onto the tablecloth. Benten, clearly, is not someone who takes kindly to being put in her place – and she seems sure to respond to this shot across her bow with a full-on fusillade.  But it makes a refreshing change to see a male character in Uchouten who doesn’t turn to putty in Benten’s presence…




  1. Benten’s back and all is right with the world! (or at least Kyoto)

    That was one of the sweetest grandmothers regardless of species. I just fell in love with the old girl.

    Nidaime keeps denying that he is a tengu. I’m guessing that he’s probably human and was taken and taught tengu magic as Benten was. He’d make a great match for Benten. Assuming they didn’t kill each other or destroy half of Kyoto.

    1. Benten is a great character (though kind of a terrible person, heh) – one of anime’s best femme fatales. But it gets a little monotonous seeing men swoon over her every breath, so Nidaimae makes a refreshing change. If Benten has indeed found her match that can only be good for the character (and perhaps Yasaburou, if it allows him to move on to more appropriate matches).

  2. After episode two I was admittedly a liiiittle nervous about this second season. It hadn’t gripped me the same way season one did, and Tenmaya’s (even limited) presence really grated on me.
    But this is really the episode I was looking forward to. If you’d asked me if I was eagerly awaiting Benten’s return, I’d say no; but now that she’s here I’m so glad for it. I already liked what we’d seen of Nidaime, but now knowing him and Benten will not get along has me very excited for the change in dynamics he’ll bring. After seeing all the reverence for Benten it was actually shocking to see someone treat her the way Nidaime did.

  3. I’m guessing the clash between Nidaime and his father happened because of Benten. Maybe the son was in love with her, she denied him because he was a tengu ( even having feelings for him too ). Or he had a duel with Sensei and Nidaime lost. Its already clear that Nidaime doesnt want to be associated with Sensei and left for a while for some reason. It would be so romantic if the scene where Benten gets a haircut is a way of mourning for Nidaime.

  4. This episode made me remember why I love this show so much to the bottom of my heart. I don’t even need any explanation why they took out the moon with their bare hands from someone and just keep it as if it was a souvenier. It’s just something tengu (or whatever Tenmaya is) can do and I was really surprised that benten is using her tengu power for something else than flying around. I always thought that her beauty might be her most powerful weapon (remember how Yasaburou’s father couldn’t keep his tanuki form around her? I think he still could have escaped back then…) or like you already said how every men just turns into a complete idiot just by looking at her but damn! if someone hits the wrong nerve she does indeed use her tengu power and I bet she has more strength than her sensei.

    The same goes to the tanuki grandmother (or small goddess?) I don’t really need to know either what exactly she is but just seeing her lying around on that pillow and hearing her voice made me feel very happy. (also…It’s so fluffy I’m gonna DIE!!!) I wonder if she is called mother because she gives tanuki the ability to transform? it might have something to do with her why tanuki are actually able to speak and disguise themselves.

    now..what can I say about Nidaime? He’s so charming! I very much like his character so far. That scene on top of that building …I mean why not? It sure was entertaining.
    before I started S2 I actually rewatched S1 and the fact that Yashirou is interested in electromagnetism is not just some fluke. He can actually produce electricity with his body and charge things such as phones or like how he did to with the lights on the christmas tree. It definitely will come in handy later on.

    The scene at the end made me really more curious than ever. Many people assume they are lovers or ex-lovers or maybe they will fall in love throughout the show. I don’t really have a problem with this but somehow I have a theory that it might be all linked to Akadama. First: Why does Nidaime always denies that he isn’t a Tengu? Might his mother be human? or did he abandon it completely because of his father and whatever happened between them?
    Second: From S1 there was a short scene where Akadama took benten with him. It was actually kind of bizarre because we were never given any proper explanation why benten was chosen by him to become a tengu.
    I keep thinking that Nidaime is mad at his father for chosing a young school girl with no real connection to the world of Tengu’s and all the other weird creatures. And training her instead of him (his own son) and that Nidaime believes his father isn’t following the rules. In my opinion, Nidaime is someone who doesn’t break any rules and hates people who are easy going and laid back and just do whatever they want. He is still polite to those but doesn’t really want to be associated with anyone who doesn’t quite fit in these characteristics.

    The preview for the next episode made me laugh really hard are the tanuki transforming into shogi pieces?? I know that they have mentioned this for the past three episodes now but could it be that this is going to be the most epic battle in shogi history ever with them transforming and actual fighting? I’m so excited!

  5. That sense of incoming danger when Nidaime threw Benten on the floor really shows how good Uchouten Kazoku is in expressing the right atmosphere. It would best expressed as if someone yelled “Oh hell no! You did NOT just do that” even though no one did.


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