English: The Eccentric Family
Synonyms: Uchoten Kazoku
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jul 7, 2013 to Sep 29, 2013
24 min. per episode
PG-13 - Teens 13 or older
L represents licensing company
Score: 8.131 (scored by 9572 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
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SynopsisIn Kyoto, there are three kinds of residents: humans, tanuki, and tengu. Shimogamo Yasaburou is the third son of the Shimogamo tanuki family. His father, Souichirou, had been the head of Kyoto tanuki community until he was eaten by the human members of "Friday Club". While taking care of an old tengu, fighting with other tanuki, and playing with a psychic human girl, Yasaburou approaches the truth of his father's death.
Related AnimeAdaptation: Uchouten Kazoku
Characters & Voice Actors
Uchouten Kazoku opens with Shimogamo Yakushibo, an energetically laid-back shape-shifting tanuki, giving us a quick rundown of his hometown of Kyoto. This is a city with a storied history of mostly-regular humans, proud tengu magicians, and oh, playful tanuki shape-shifters, of course and here, he tells us, there are endless quantities of amusement to be had. As the camera follows him he deftly navigating the beautiful cityscape, he declares with conviction that while he is a tanuki, he's far too proud to be a mere tanuki and is instead one who passes his days admiring tengu and imitating humans. He assures us that he is so busy that he doesn't even have time to be bored.
The introduction now complete, the opening theme plays.
And with that, the frenetically paced Uchouten Kazoku is now over. As if to drag the show back down to earth, his younger brother appears and bestows upon our main character that which is most dreaded by every magical shape-shifting bohemian, a responsibility—and one from his mother, no less! It quickly becomes apparent that although he neglected to make mention of this in the introduction, he is in fact the third of the four sons of a once-prestigious and close-knit family of tanuki. Although you might suspect, due to the now-conspicuous absence of this little bit of important information in his introduction or simply just due to his nature, that he is somehow resentful of this, he in fact makes no real effort to escape from these bonds. And so we have settled into the basic premise of this series.
Though not without frequent bursts of excitement, this is now a much slower show and its many strengths begin to reveal themselves to the viewer. With its vivid reds and yellows that perfectly capture the fall season, saturated yet earthy greens, and fantastic nighttime blues, this show likely has the best color palette of any anime from 2013. (The doubtful are invited to consider episode 6, titled "Taking in Fall Colors," which is about just that: taking in fall colors.) Combined with the excellent way that texture is used in the visuals of this show, this makes for amazing backgrounds; as the viewer may have already noticed during the introduction, Uchouten Kazoku's Kyoto is an inspired city of lively streets, fanciful props, and amazing interiors. Also worth noting is the way that the animators expressively use the body language of the whimsically designed and deceptively minimal characters. For an obvious example of this, you could watch the way that Yakushibo moves even after taking a female form in the first episode, although it's really something that deserves your attention throughout the entire series.
The strongest aspect of all, however, is the writing, and as such Uchouten Kazoku features an amazing cast of characters. While Yakushibo doesn't completely embrace his familial obligations—certainly not to the degree of the eldest Shimogamo brother—his relationships with his immediate kin are shown early on to be his most significant and enduring ties and as they should be, they are all great characters, from the eldest—the comically severe Yaichirou, to the youngest—the endearing Yashirou. But the best non-Yasaburou member of the Shimogamo family might just be the unnamed matriarch, who plays many roles over the course of the series but is always a fun character due both her quirkiness and her naturally likable demeanor. All of the main characters are given the development that they deserve, and Uchouten Kazoku deserves credit for doing so in such a way that it feels like part of a natural progression where the viewer is increasingly drawn into the lives of its characters. Although this can be mostly attributed to the thoughtful way in which the story progresses, some credit should be given to the production for the excellent way in which all of the flashback scenes were executed. Flashbacks can easily feel tacked-on and tacky, especially when silly effects, bad transitions, and other such missteps are involved, but the flashbacks in Uchouten Kazoku are not only well-integrated, but also executed to a standard that is higher than much of the rest of the show, lending them emotional impact and narrative strength. The main characters aren't the only fun and interesting ones, however, as almost any given supporting character from the scheming Ebisugawa brothers to the perpetually grumpy Akadama-sensei has the ability to steal the spotlight for entire scenes. Both the writing and the production deserve to share the credit here, as the supporting characters are not only written in a way that makes them instantly likeable, but are depicted on screen in a lively and colorful way that is on par with the main cast. (If you've been keeping count, you may have noticed that I've neglected to mention one of the four brothers. Well, he's currently a frog in a well and for the purposes of this review, there isn't too much more that I should say about that, but I suppose that it should be noted that he is both one of the funniest and most interesting characters.)
Arguably even more impressive than it's cast, however, is the way that the it can effortlessly evoke meaning from absurdity. For example, I did not expect to truly feel bad for a frog in a well—that is to not just have a meaningless emotional response due to some cheap puppy-kicking, but to actually really truly feel bad for a frog in a well. Though Uchouten Kazoku presents itself as a slice of life comedy with whimsical supernatural elements, it flexes its storytelling muscles in a big way on an episode-to-episode basis, so is not only thematically rich, but crafts a meaningful emotional narrative over the course of its thirteen episodes. The key to this is perhaps the way that elements of the story are quietly and thoughtfully built up over the course of the slice of life portions of each episode, leading to catharsis much more naturally than is obvious to the viewer.
I want to finish by talking about yet one more important character that I've intentionally avoided even making a passing reference to thus far, and that is the cryptically beautiful figure who is now only referred to by the name of the god Benten. Though she makes appearances as early as the very first episode—the world of Uchouten Kazoku is a small one after all—she remains an enigma for much of the series. This is largely due to the fact that as much is said about Benten by the other characters in the show than is said by Benten herself, which leads me to why I chose only now to bring her up: Benten frequently serves as the focal point of all of the strongest elements of this series. Captivatingly beautiful to almost every character in the show, the impassioned moments that she inspires are many (but not all) of the most powerful scenes of the series. But Benten isn't just your archetypal muse character who sits around looking pretty while legitimately interesting characters swarm around her and do legitimately interesting things. She herself has a hand in almost every single major plot event of the series and is furthermore the main actor in, or at least an active participant of, many of the best scenes, so while her appearances are sometimes infrequent, they are always memorable. The best aspects of Uchouten Kazoku just seem to become even more apparent whenever Benten is involved. Indeed, everything from the quality of the writing to the quiet strength of the soundtrack and the ability of P.A. Works to deliver sublime visuals seems to be on display during moments like late in episode 3 when Benten waves her fan, and as if on-command, everything immediately comes together to create one of the best scenes of the entire show.
As something with no significant flaws that come to mind, I wholeheartedly recommend Uchouten Kazoku to anyone whose interest is even slightly piqued by this review. Though often restrained in its pacing and contemplative in tone, the show is much more engaging than you might think. Even if you think that you will find it difficult to appreciate the writing or the humor, P.A. Works does a great job of creating an immersive experience for the viewer with the superbly-crafted setting and soundtrack lending the series strong atmospheric qualities as well. Just watch it—I'm sure that you won't be lacking in things to appreciate. read more
In this day & age it's sometimes very hard to find something original, the anime as a form of art has now become so generic & predictable with typical shounen & typical ecchi spewing around us from all direction that it is really hard to remember sometimes that this is not only a form of entertainment (or rather shameless fan service) but it is also a form of art. And fortunately there are still anime's like "Uchouten Kazoku" still being made to remind us just that.
This was actually based on a novel by Tomihiko Morimi which is the story of a family, of a certain peculiar family at that, cause the members of this family aren't human. This is a story of a "Tanuki" family. Early on our protagonist tells us about the world he lives in, a fictional version of modern Kyoto, where Tanuki, Tengu & Humans co-habit, humans are obviously at the head of the food chain, and Tengu's are creatures that can fly. So what are Tanuki's? They are shape-shifting raccoon dogs (bet you didn't see that one coming). This is the story of four brothers of a tanuki family , their mothers & their friends; the head of the family that is their father was eaten by a group of human called "Friday Fellows" who eat tanuki every year as a tradition in their year end bash. I know this seems confusing so far, but believe me under this weird exterior there is a really beautiful story. We get to observe the life of this family through the eye of one of the brother's, our main character Yasaburo. We get to know this beautifully imagined fantasy world, face the challenges you have to face by being a shape-shifting tanuki, and get to know the truth behind how the head of the Shimogamo family really died.
From the small little funny bits like Yasaburo warming his butt (or else he will catch could); to his weird shape-shifting practices; to all the allegory about an actual loving family-life, the nature of humans & the corruption in our political circle now-a-days everything is written in a almost flawless way. There is layer upon layer of details on every scene & intelligent dialogues throughout the show.
The story is almost flawless in what it tries to achieve, it gets 9 out of 10 from me.
The characters are so meticulously imagined by the writer that it really shows the amount of dedication & care he really gave his work. From the responsible yet too much trying older brother Yaichiro, to the carefree yet guilt ridden Yajiro, to the "most idiotic of the blood" Yasaburo, to the timid and shy Yashirou all the brothers are so well developed characters. There is their loving mother (who is one of the most realistic mother figures I have seen in an anime); the mysterious & unpredictable Benten (who you will be constantly wondering about, if you should love her or hate her); their angry & irritable sensei Prof. Akadama; the loveable Kaisei; and many other artistically written characters.
Most of the characters are so well written & well developed that is really unique in this times cause now-a-days most of the animes have 90% generic characters (even some good ones do lack in this department).
It gets another 9 out of 10.
This anime also features very unique art, all the character designs are delicate and drawn with style, the backgrounds are colorful, all in all it does portray the wacky & weird image we get from the story quite nicely. Occasionally there are some scenes which are a bit flawed or feels out of place but overall the art & animations fits the nature of the theme that the writer tries to convey almost perfectly.
It gets 8.5 out of 10.
The opening theme is "Uchouten Jinsei" by milktubIt & the ending theme is "Qué Será, Será" by fhána,. I really like the opening song which fits nicely with the sense of wackiness this anime first tries to establish in its viewers, I get where the ending song is coming from, it was definitely aiming to get in touch with the other side of the story that was the beauty of it but I don't think the song does add that much on the total experience. It might seem a bit unusual but I liked the sound effects used in the actual anime much better than the actual opening and ending theme, there is a bit of keyboard (or other instrument) piece in some of the intense sequences which is quite beautiful, and the other bits used on emotion sequences were quite exceptional to me too.
The sound gets on the whole solid 9 out of 10.
This is the kind of anime that reminds me of why I am still sticking with this genre of entertainment. Just when the anime world is filled with generic hero fights endlessly to save the world or a girl or closet pervert hero gets caught in between lots of big breasted & scantily clothed females if you really look hard enough you find gems like this. This kinds of stories rejuvenates the believer in me (on a side note it also makes me sad that I don't know Japanese, or I could have read the original book).
This is a must watch anime & one of the best of the season and of 2013. Don't waste your time reading this review just go watch it.
Overall score -
9 out of 10.
Uchouten Kazoku and Bakemonogatari are two anime that are all about being extremely well-executed. Both feature brilliant characterization, wonderful art, and writing that skirts the line between comedy and drama in a way that really draws you into the lives of the characters.
For Uchouten Kazoku and Bakemonogatari, there's an element of fantasy that is lightoned in terms of its execution. With that element comes mythological creatures that exhibits in the world of both these series.
They also capture a sense of style with its cast of characters. The character interactions through dialogue and word play makes the strength of both series as well as its overall themes. The main male protagonist has various interactions with different characters throughout each episode with excellent dialogue.
The animation style both give off a refreshing way of representing their fantasy worlds.
The obvious recommendation for Uchouten Kazoku is The Royal Tenenbaums. That, of course, is not an option here on MAL, but the next closest thing is probably Bakemonogatari. To start, they share a light supernatural element that is based on Japanese folklore and mythology, and soundtracks that are mostly composed of smooth ambient pieces. More importantly, both are fairly minimal stories that lean on their unique and interesting casts to keep the audience engaged with excellent dialogue that is simultaneously clever, funny, and frequently meaningful (another mention of Wes Anderson seems appropriate here). Finally—though stylistically rather different with Uchouten Kazoku being primarily interested in capturing the urban vitality of Kyoto with a strong focus on light and texture, and Bakemonogatari drawing from influences like Suprematism and the International style to create environments that can feel more like stage sets than actual locations—they both feature excellent cinematography.
Both series involves the same author Tomihiko Morimi who written novels that were adapted into anime form.
They have great humor and a small cast of insightful characters. Both series also follows a narration type of story telling and depicts the lives of the main characters.
There is a lot of dialogues with a mixture of both humor and drama.
Uchouten Kazoku and Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei are both based on stories by Tomihiko Morimi. They both have a lightly fantastical feel, a similar narration style, and vibrant animation.
They are both Slice of Life series set in Kyoto. They also both have some supernatural elements to them. Also, the novels upon which they are based on are both written by the same author.
Opening Theme"Uchouten Jinsei (有頂天人生)" by milktub (eps 1-10, 12-13)
Ending Theme#1: "Qué Será, Será (ケセラセラ)" by fhána (eps 1-11)
#2: "Uchouten Jinsei (有頂天人生)" by milktub (ep 13)
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Related ClubsGladies, P.A Works, Japanese Monsters Club, [[ Live Action Adaptations ]]
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