Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Uchouten Kazoku - 2

"Mother and Raijin, The God of Thunder"

This is a bit more what I was expecting of the series in the first place.

It would be silly to say that Uchouten Kazoku has become less strange with another episode under its belt, as that's simply not true. This is as whimsical and bizarre a show as you could hope to get from this sort of premise, but that doesn't make it a terrible show by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I think the right word to use in this case would be that it's "charming", in the sort of way a Ghibli film might be charming, though with a different sort of flair. It can't be denied that weird things happen in this series, but it's not as if all logic is lost either. Behind all the weird tanuki transformations and general silliness among the Shimogamo family members, there's some really compelling character drama, and I find that really rather captivating despite outer appearances.

This week we get to meet the actual family of the title in question; while last week's episode introduced us briefly to older brother Yaichirou (Suwabe Junichi) and younger brother Yashirou (Nakahara Mai), this week we meet two new members of the family, one being the brother-turned-frog Yajirou (Yoshino Hiroyuki) and their equally eccentric and crossdressing Mother (Inoue Kikuko). Both of them are more than a little quirky, but it's clear that beyond all of that this is a pretty tightly knit family. Despite Yajirou being stuck in a well for, presumably, the rest of his life, his brothers still come to see him and make sure he knows what's going on, while all the brothers have different worries concerning one another. Yaichirou is working hard to become a worthy successor to his father's name, while Yashirou and Yasaburou are doing what they can to live on as descendants in their own right. Mother too seems to while away her time doing silly things, but she definitely loves her children and believes in them powerfully.

The family dynamic concerning the death of the boys' father is really rather the undercurrent for most of the things they do. Though Yasaburou doesn't seem to care much for the idea of following in his father's footsteps, he does seem to feel a bit guilty in letting his mother down. On the other hand, Yashirou and Yaichirou are proud to defend their esteemed father, something that only drives the family closer together after his tragic death (eaten in a hot pot, by the same club Suzuki frequents, apparently). Perhaps it's not so much their father that drives them, but rather love for one another, and how their father's death affected that. It's clear that Yaichirou wants to protect his brothers despite all the trouble they give him, and the same can be said of Yasaburou. Yashirou's concern for Mother too makes me think this is the case, but regardless, I find these bonds to be both very human and very compelling, something which ironically makes up the backbone of this series, despite its fantastical premise.

N.B.: Thanks so much to Ivan for the caps!

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