Dear, how this show spoils me with its magnificent and whimsical magical realism Kyoto world. Last season, we were treated with many Eureka moments like Benten pulling a whale’s tail; tanuki drinking in a floating house to enjoy Gozan Fire Festival, or a fake train running around the shopping mall. Whatever the case, the way the show treats those moments with ease like they’re the most natural thing in the world just made my heart swell. This episode manages to raise up that bar by having Tenmaya reaches up the moon and GRABS IT. Of course, that doesn’t bode well for Benten, because she wanted that moon all by herself. So at the worst timing for Tenmaya ever, she backs to town (BENTEN’S BACK) and gives him a head-on-the-ground treatment. Benten has been the femme fatale for most of the time, charming not only to the human, but to the tanuki and tengu (but knowing that makes the last scene even more powerful). Here on a roof, owning the moon (Yasaburou’s moon) all by herself but is pleaded by Yasaburou to return the moon back because “it would be hard to live in darkness without the moonlight”, she pitches it back baseball-style and I know full well that this moment right there will be what I remember most about the Eccentric Family: whimsical, warmed and always be its own thing.
In the second sequence, we meet a new character (ANOTHER NEW CHARACTER? This show has such a huge cast) and she again is a fantastic addition to the show, although unlike Tenmaya and Nidaime I don’t think she will appear often for the rest of this series. That new character is Yasaburou’s grandma, a whitest white furball tanuki. I guess she’s more like a big grandma of that temple’s tanuki. Around her, it seems like time has ceased to progress, as she sits there, blind and sleeping most of the time, her memories is fading but she still sees many things that only the wisest livings see. For her, Tousen leaving for marriage was just yesterday (now, she’s already a widow with 4 grown up boys) but that warm conversations between them tell us how much they still care for each other. I also appreciate that she had a small talk with Yasaburou afterward, and never at once he mentioned that he is her grandchild because… they’d know it at heart. Tousen asks her Mom about Yajirou’s condition, further informs us how she still really cares for her kids, even when she still respects his decision to not go visit him in a well. I don’t particularly think grandma’s medicine will have a physical effect on Yajirou, it’d be more of psychological effect of resolving self-guilt from this shogi-addicted frog.
The last segment, which is a nice set up to the main personal conflict of this series, is all about Nidaime and his clash with Benten. I am just amazed how the show portraits Nidaime in this single episode. Moving home to the rooftop of the building by paying the twin tanuki- ironing his identical white shirts in a flick of time – giving his goggles to Yashirou and invites the tanuki to have afternoon tea with him (in which he always calls them furballs but never ever disrespects the tanuki) – then SEND BENTEN OFF HIS CHAISE AND PROCEEDS TO HAVE A NAP LIKE NOTHING HAPPENED. Benten of all people. Like I said, The Eccentric Family sets up the main conflict from way back by showing how opposite those two are: one is a tanuki who was exiled by his father and now living as a fine gentleman, the other is a human who was taken by that same person that disowned him to be a tengu. Both having a race-crisis and both have pride as high as Eiffel Tower, it only makes sense that they’re going to clash and they’re going to clash hard. This episode, without a doubt, is the best episode so far of this new season because it achieves everything I could hope for in The Eccentric Family in a solid package: the whimsical world that has a great sense of wonder, characters that are grounded and have a great, warm chemistry together and the plot that shaping up to be both personal and epic. Like the wise grandma tanuki said: makes sure to cause a lot of trouble, The Eccentric Family.