Wednesdays Watching Anime – Uchouten Kazoku

August 19, 2015 § Leave a comment

The OP for Uchouten Kazoku, “Uchouten Jinsei” by milktub, is what we’re doing this week!

I don’t think I’ve had enough time to digest Uchouten Kazoku. I only watched it a few months ago and, while it seems fairly straightforward in being a story about the place of family in one’s life set in a world of magical realism, it seems to me like there are a lot of hidden hooks to it that I still find catching me.

I mean, part of it is probably the characters. Last year, I wrote a post about tsundere that briefly touched upon Ebisugawa Kaisei, who plays a relatively minor role in the plot, and how her tsundere characteristics were heightened and emphasized by her powers of disguise, but when I really get down to it, everyone in the show has a dual nature that subtly defies generalization. With most of those characters, just as with Kaisei, the dual nature is literal: most of them are magical or mythical creatures like tanuki and tengu, who assume human form in order to function in a world where the balance has shifted resoundingly towards mankind, but even Benten, who is entirely human despite her presence in the realms of the hidden, keeps a balance between her winning charm and her monstrous desire to eat Shimogamo Yasaburou, the protagonist of the anime. When a show trades so heavily in dualities, it’s hard to know exactly where you stand with your opinion of it, even if you like both parts of the whole. I watched the entirety of Uchouten Kazoku in tension between the mundane pressures of family life and the madcap magic that occasionally disrupted it. Maybe that was the intent?

Of course, almost none of that tension is really present in the OP, which mostly comes off as a celebration of the strangeness of the anime’s setting. Sure, when characters are being introduced, their animal form is juxtaposed with their human one whenever possible, but it’s not particularly impactful. There’s more to be gotten from the limited-animation sprint through a version of Kyoto, straight out of a pop-up book, but maybe I just like the excess of Japanese kitsch on display there. And… yeah, then we end with fast-forwarded footage of a camera on a bike going through town, which I mostly associate with GAINAX productions like FLCL and Kare Kano but which must also be a thing at PA Works, too…

Oh, right. There’s the incredibly quick cutting of Yasaburou in different outfits at the end, which almost has the sense of a time-lapse of all the different forms that he takes. I don’t know, it’s not particularly coherent as a statement on the anime itself, but a lot of the elements that it incorporates are quite good. Not everything in the anime forms part of its core story, either, just like they don’t in life.

Shimogamo Haha, Shimogamo Yajirou, Shimogamo Yaichirou, Shimogamo Yasaburou, Shimogamo Yashirou, Akadama-sensei, and Benten from Uchouten Kazoku

Shimogamo Haha, Shimogamo Yajirou, Shimogamo Yaichirou, Shimogamo Yasaburou, Shimogamo Yashirou, Akadama-sensei, and Benten from Uchouten Kazoku

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