Anime Review: The Eccentric Family

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PA Works is known for making original TV series (their manga releases are meant only to promote it) which include incredible ensemble casts and tear-jerking premises. Having said that, last summer, PA Works aired what is possibly the closest thing they have made to a comedy. Well, at least that’s what I thought it was, based on the setting and opening theme alone. It’s more like a melodrama, if you ask me.

The Eccentric Family (Uchoten Kazoku) takes place in an alternative present-day Kyoto, where there is a precarious balance between humankind, tengu, and tanuki, of which our story focuses specifically on one very strange, or eccentric, family of tanukis who spend most of their time being anything but raccoon dogs!

And before you ask, yes, tanuki are real creatures, and according to science, no, they do not possess magical powers that allow them to change into jizo statues. However, because this is anime where all sorts of things are based on folklore and fictional scenarios, the tanukis of this world can not only change their form, shape, and size, they can also conceal themselves as everything from human beings to good luck charms. Talk about defying the laws of nature!

The main plot of this series is specifically about how four tanuki brothers–whose names are somewhat predictable–try to piece together the events of their late father’s death, as well as decide along with the rest of the tanuki community who will be their next leader. Each of the sons possess a different aspect from their father, passing down the “Blood of Fools.” I wonder whether or not tanukis were just meant to be too foolish or weak to carry the community; but then I remember that everything from literature, films, and even real life have foolish people become incredibly successful. So it doesn’t bother me that much.

The Eccentric Family

The Shimogamo brothers. From left to right: Yasaburo, Yajiro (frog form), Yaichiro, and Yashiro.

Because PA Works loves ensemble casts, there’s also the extension of this family. This includes their tomboyish mother, their drunken tengu godfather, a young woman who possesses tengu powers, the Friday Club humans who enjoy eating tanuki hotpot, and the tanuki uncle and cousins who rival them for power in the community! Seriously, their uncle and the twin cousins are pricks, but the girl cousin who is betrothed to Yasaburo is kind of cute.

If there’s anything else to truly expect out of this fantasy series, it’s that there really aren’t any bad guys or good guys. Sure, we can identify who the protagonists and antagonists are, but as we unravel the truth, it goes to show that everyone in this series has virtues as well as faults. This is sort of typical for an East Asian drama, but whatever; I think it’s pretty cool.

Lastly, this was the first anime to feature a song by my current J-Pop obsession fhána! Four animated series have featured a song performed by them so far, and yes, I am planning to review all of them (if I haven’t already) before Anime Expo this year! I know I probably have a strong bias for fhána, but so far, I have enjoyed every series that has chosen their songs for one of their themes.

But enough fan boy squeals out of me.

If you’re looking for an anime about magical worlds, melodramatic plotlines, family-friendly feels, and lots of lovable characters, watch The Eccentric Family!

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