Review: Uchouten Kazoku

The Eccentric Family

uchouten

AlexThis series summed itself up perfectly, so i’ll open with that;
“As long as we’re all living, as long as we’re all having fun, that should do it, right? We’re tanuki. If someone were to ask me how tanuki should live their lives, this is how I would answer. The tanuki wriggling about in Kyoto should abandon their ambitions, as all we have to do is to lead a fun and interesting life…and this is mine.”

It’s obviously a show about tanuki (the cute little raccoon dogs of Japanese folklore) and what they get up to in their day to day lives. The series is as  full of cultural references as it is tongue-in-cheek fun , and what with how almost all the characters are tengu or tanuki, the acting really drives home just how wonderful the series is, what with…(gasp) how they actually act like what they’re meant to be! I’ve seen more than enough shows and read more than enough novels about non-humans, and to see them actually being non-human is a really delightful experience.

The acting isn’t the only part of this series that’s worth giving it a medal for. It’s got really outstanding characters, with Yasaboru leading the cast as a teenage male. He’s whimsical and intellectual, and it’s carried through in all his actions, as you roughly see almost everything through his eyes anyway. It’s not very long before you realize how instantly likeable he is, and thankfully, most of the cast here follows tradition, what with the leading female, Benten, stealing almost all of the scenes that she appears in, with sheer delight and wonder as a character. I obviously don’t have time to talk about all the cast members, but needless to say, they’re all pretty outstanding in their own way, and it’s a real pleasure to see them, with their quirks and tendencies that drive home the point – this is not a show about normal people.

It’s a pretty intellectual series, too. A lot of what goes on isn’t explicitly stated, and the stuff that is is more often than not done for comical value. The romance undertones in this series are just one example, and I actually feel that by not going into detail over this things, leaving it as something that’s just mentioned in passing is the best way to handle it. You can wonder if you’re reading too far between the lines, or not reading enough into them. It’s little touches and details like that which really shine, and the romance isn’t the only one.

The wordplay is just another thing that it gets right. The characters can switch from being fun to serious, and then back to being totally out there in a single scene, and whilst it’s an interesting feature that could have gone horribly wrong, i’m pleased to say that it didn’t. It adds an entirely new level to this slice of life when the characters are so multi-dimensional that you can’t always understand them all, but unlike other shows that have tried this, if you stop and think about it or flick backwards in the show to something that’s been said previously, you actually do understand it perfectly.

All in all, it may be just another slice of life, but it’s a smart, witty, whimsical slice of life that focuses on a different style and a different theme than what we’re used to. As Western views, we probably don’t get all the cultural references and quirks that go on, but it’s part of the charm that left me with a smile on my face at the end of almost every episode. The only downside to this series is that it lost it’s way during the final, and lost the charm in favor of drama, and that’s why I can’t give it a perfect score in the end.

 

Alex

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