I can't help but be upset that I never managed to blog this season properly in the end, because there are at least three really good shows I wanted to follow. This is one of them.
One of my favorite character dynamics in any medium is the family dynamic. It doesn't matter if it's a one on one relationship, such as the bond between a parent and child or two siblings, or if it's a collective family group, but watching a family interact is always somehow very interesting to me. Perhaps that comes out of my own slightly skewed family experience, but nevertheless, one of Uchoten Kazoku's selling points is definitely the Kazoku itself. There are a lot of raw emotions at stake when it comes to the Shimogamos, and not least because their beloved father was eaten in a hot pot. This is a family that truly cares and looks out for one another even if they sometimes disagree, and whether it's Mother's unconditional love or the brotherly connection between the four sons, it's a heartwarming dynamic to watch.
But that doesn't account for all the magic present in Uchoten, though it does make up a large part of it. This show revels in its atmosphere and setting, and no place is more apt for the eccentricities of this family and their world than Kyoto itself. We have a world of humans who are (almost) completely unaware of the very real magic from the Tanuki and Tengu worlds while the latter roam the streets (and skies) in disguise. The magic is almost Ghibli-like in a way, when two sides meet in that surreal magical way, but faced with all sorts of limitations and problems. The Shimogamo family is feuding with the Ebisugawas, after all, and it's an important and hateful thing that destroys many of those bonds that the Shimogamos embody so well, and is in the end not quite as political as it seems.
Then there are the humans themselves, which in some ways, are a lot more dangerous and mysterious than their more mystical counterparts. Benten, for one, is a scary tour de force, acting completely on her whims and pleasures without regard for even the people she claims to like. She is more goddess than human, looking down on all from her lonely pedestal, and never quite letting other knows why she has become that way. Then there is the human professor, with his strange ideals on love and the act of eating, which also change on mere whims when it comes to truly finding those things that he loves. I think in some ways the human side of the equation made much less sense and acted far more dangerously than the others, and perhaps that is something we're meant to take away about human nature. Regardless, however, I found this series to be ridiculously charming and very beautiful in many ways, one of the few offerings this summer to properly stick and make an impression on me.
N.B.: Thanks to Ivan for capping episode 3 for me, and I'm sorry I never managed to get through the series properly. It was a very lovely one indeed.