Uchouten Kazoku – Episode 1

I’m actually very excited for this one. The director’s pretty untested, but the source is the original writer of Tatami Galaxy, and the series composition is being handled by someone who wrote scripts for Serei no Moribito and GitS: SAC, along with handling series composition on a fun little show called OreGairu. That’s a goddamn dream team as far as I’m concerned, and easily qualifies this show as the only one likely to wrestle with Monogatari for the “most artistically compelling” award this season. I really hope it does – Free! seems like it’s going to be the silliest possible version of itself, and Danganronpa’s first episode disappointed me, so I’m hungry for another show to really sink my critical teeth into. The PV was also vibrant and stylish, though the synopsis tells me virtually nothing. That’s fine. I’m ready to be surprised.

Episode 1

1:16 – Does this show have a real budget? I love that they’re actually able to portray a city in full swing – I guess it’s just P.A. Works sticking to their strengths. I normally dislike their shows, but it’s generally in spite of the visuals – with an actual writer at the helm, things are very different

3:42 – And now he’s a girl. Or she, or… alright, I’m not getting caught up on Tanuki gender identity

6:56 – I like how the MC’s flippancy with his body is ignored by the camera but easily conveyed through his body language. Makes for an interesting contrast with Monogatari

It also seems clear that it’s a work by a confident writer – it’s just dropping us in to this life, we’re not getting it spoonfed

Finally, the combination of busy sound design (the very sharp sound effects of the household items, the emphasized chatter in the market) and actually fully-peopled common spaces also makes it seem less idealized and more lived-in than many productions

Good stuff so far

7:54 – Now that I’m paying attention to it, the body language really is good in this show. Even just that woman sliding down the hill and picking up the offered bottles contains a lot more nuance and personality than characters normally get

9:35 – Holy shit was that scene nicely directed. The rising music, the build from the question of “what I taught you” to that first step to the gliding, the lighting through the trees and graceful animation of her movements. The director was the question mark for this show – I already had full confidence in the source and composer. I think this is gonna be really good

9:45 – They keep conveying the disconnect between his natural tendencies and that body by posture alone. It’s really impressive

11:15 – They are just burying this in small human gestures – I particularly like his collecting the cans, picking up the last one, pausing a moment as he realizes he can use it for his cigarette, and putting it back down. It adds nothing to the narrative, but fits in so well in strengthening the integrity of the world

12:22 – Another nice gesture – refusing to go and bring Benten back while simultaneously putting out the cigarette he just lit

14:35 – “Could you at least take on an appropriate form when you come here?” “Screw that. Get me a brandy.” Kind of funny that when we actually get a show centered on a young adult, he’s still physically a teenage girl

21:02 – “To be a Tengu is to fly through the sky at will… wouldn’t you say?” Between that and our MC’s own games, it looks like we might be going somewhere with Identity

21:45 – “I realized there’s nothing else I needed to do besides live an interesting life.” You are way ahead of the class, dude

And Done

EXCELLENT. Loved it. The soundtrack was great and extremely well-used, the visual design was excellent and animation brimming with life, the direction was precise and writing was actually intelligent, and the ambiguous relationship between our two main students seems fraught with room for great drama. It even seems like it might actually go in a romantic direction, which I wasn’t expecting but am pretty much always game for. I really couldn’t be happier with this first episode – this show could easily become the highlight of the season.