Posted on 29 September 2013 with categories: Uchoten Kazoku

The final third of Uchoten Kazoku to me… is probably its worst part. Allow me to elaborate why:

Basically it boils down to that the conclusion was too cliched for its own sake. And I don’t really say that for the sake of it being cliched, but rather the implications that this had on the rest of the series. Two implications really stood out:
– The frog, the second son. I really liked how he actually felt responsible for the death of his father. That was some really good drama, and I loved the episode earlier that was dedicated to his feelings about it. But no, the father was just caught by his brother who turns out to be this stereotypically evil bad guy who just justs after some woman. True, without being drunk there was a chance that the father would have seen through the trick, but nevertheless he doesn’t feel guilty anymore about his actions.
– Wat made Uchoten Kazoku great? Its dialogue and its focus on cultural values, customs and legends. The whole succession story just took too much time away from that, and unlike the first two thirds of the series it brought relatively few new things to the table. You can also see this in the character-development, which while there, could have been much more if the plot was a bit more catered to it. Benten for example: we never really got to see what goes on inside her head.

Does that make these four episodes bad? Nah, just not as good as what they could have been. These episodes still were fun to watch, and at least it did try to stay somewhat true to itself by never forgetting that the simple minds of the characters who on one point can be entirely serious, and then can be goofing off or really stupid again. The chaos in the final episode was a neat anti-climax, and the whole frying tram rocked. Uchoten Kazoku was definitely unique and really refreshing as an anime.

Yojou-han, Uchoten Kazoku. This writer needs to have more of his stories adapted to anime!
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 7 September 2013 with categories: Uchoten Kazoku

In these past four episodes, Uchoten Kazoku really showed itself as a series, focused on the past. In the past a number of major things happened, and these four episodes really explored those in a ton of detail, showing both very carefully what happened, but also the different perspectives that the different characters have on it and how they ended up coping with them.

The big one is of course the father’s death. We got to see the perspectives of the people he left behind, but also of the ones who ended up catching and eating him. It did this really well and I love what an in-depth look we got into the whole process. Unlike the first third of this series it doesn’t jump around from one thing to the other, but instead ties everything together. This all is a sign of excellent storytelling. And after this it’s the task of the finale to really push things forward and be daring.

There is a lot to like about this series and it really plays around with its storytelling in this unconventional manner. Take the way it looks at the eating of Tanuki: it doesn’t try to be preachy and go “all people who eat Tanuki are evil!” and instead goes for a much more subtle message: yeah, it sucks for the Tanuki, but it’s part of life. I really like how this contrasts with the huge impact that the death of the father made. And I also did not miss the symbolism at the end of episode eight, in which everyone is just eating a bit of chicken: it’s part of nature.

What also really struck me is the second oldest son. His story of guilt was a very touching one. He already was lazy and didn’t do anything, feeling guilty about it, and then that happened. That scene at the well for me was the most emotional moment of the series so far for me.

I also want to give a lot of thumbs up for the animation here. PA Works’ series usually are gorgeous, but their style is very easy to recognize usually. This series looks like nothing they’ve ever done, and they still managed to make it look gorgeous. Some of the best camera angles and shots have some awesome uses of colours.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 7 August 2013 with categories: Uchoten Kazoku

I’m still amazed at how drenched this series is in culture. This show goes into so much more detail than anything else about the world of Tanuki, Tengu and other mystical beings. The creators really did their research, and it shows: it’s really rare for a series to feel this authentic. I don’t know enough to know how much this show made up and how much of it is taken from japanese folklore, but even then: in both ways the culture in this series just sparkles with life.

And still this show is diverse. The plot is coming together, but still every episode manages to be different, and highlight a different part of the lives and traditions of the characters. I loved the idea of having a sake-powered flying house, and Benten also turned into quite the character. On one hand, she ATE the father of the main character. On the other hand, she acts like it’s the most natural thing in the world and has fallen in love with him.

This series sure loves its contradictions. It’s especially a big part of episode five, which showed a posh club of spiritual leaders debate whether the tradition of eating tanuki is really worth it, put next to this one guy who loves tanuki so much that he also loves to eat them. It’s really bizarre to look at tanuki this way when they are portrayed in this really weird cross between human and animal. That’s also what I love: no tanuki or tengu really lost that animal side: nobody here feels 100% human. Sometimes it’s more apparent than others, but Yasaburo (I hope that that was his name) hiding for so long was so wonderfully characteristic of an animal that feels threatened.

The acting in this show overall is really good. Characters all have their quirks, yet they are more than just that. Everyone has multiple sides, and the lines they deliver are brought convincingly. This show also knows perfectly fine when it needs to be dramatic, and when it just needs to let things play out casually. You can really see that this was written by a brilliant writer.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 17 July 2013 with categories: Uchoten Kazoku

Yeah, what can I say? Uchoten Kazoku stands with head and shoulders at the top of non-sequels this season. It could have easily been the second Noitamina-series this season. For those who don’t know: this was originally written by the guy who wrote Yojou-han Shinwa Taikei, and with this it really is clear: this guy is a really good writer. This has by far the best script of the entire season: it’s just way more eloquent than every single other series.

And then there is PA Works that managed to breathe this to life really well. These episodes are all scripted out really well, starting with random dialogue, a bit of conflict here and there, and then ending with a very powerful climax. What also surprises me: these two episodes were very different: first the drama was about that old tengu. The second was about the family of the main character, and what kind of impact the father had on it. Powerful stuff.

This show knows its build-up very well: there’s just so much in each episode, but everything somehow adds up to each other. Every character gets a chance to talk about his or her feelings and gts the chance to be fleshed out really well thanks to that excellent dialogue, with the result that there are already a ton of likable characters within just two episodes. I really liked the frog in this episode, the mother was really charming, and even the two tanuki from that other family were different from the usual brats: they were brats, but the way in which they transformed, plus their place in their own family made them also interesting to watch.

A lot of characters here are Tanuki, and a lot of the characters really have this animal side to them. The only one who doesn’t is the main character, or rather he is very much different from the rest of the cast. You can see he’s a tanuki with how he treats his own transformation powers, but aside from that I miss that animal side of his.
Rating: 5,5/8 (Excellent)

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  • Bam
    (Friday, May 6. 2016 01:23 AM)
    @Hellfire: lol I do too. This had good lyrics as well, but the line in Hellfire which says “he made the devil so much stronger than a man!” hits really hard.
  • SuperMario
    (Friday, May 6. 2016 01:12 AM)
    @Bam: yes, This performance was a gem, but truthfully any version would be more faithful than the Disney one. I still prefer Hellfire though :)
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 10:26 AM)
    What do you think?
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 10:25 AM)
    I met a French art student in a bar tonight, and after getting into Hugo and Notre-Dame de Paris, he suggested a more faithful French theater production of it. He believed that this is a much better portrayal of the conflicted priestly character of Frollo, and specifically offered this Hellfire-esque song sang by the talented Daniel Lavoie as evidence:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5St9zF849o
  • SuperMario
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 08:22 AM)
    @Kaiser: haha. If this film indeed was made I’ll be the first one on the line to watch it.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:32 AM)
    @Mario: This made me laugh far more than it should have: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kno3xDw27bY
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:30 AM)
    Anybody else seen Jungle Book yet?
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:25 AM)
    @Kaiser: I see. Look retro, so I might actually enjoy.
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:24 AM)
    I don’t wanna hyperbolize, so I admit that some of the Disney/Marvel stuff has ingenuity to it. Guardians and even Antman had their moments of disarming charm, and genuine sentiment from the cast and crew, that made it special and not just another superhero flick.
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:22 AM)
    @Aidan: Marvel movies feel like a very nice amusement park ride- they are always fun, but the return diminishes after successive exposure. Everything in the movies, from the fights, to the dialogue, and plot is incredibly formulatic. You just don’t get the same effect when you know what’s coming.

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