This season is shaping up nicely, and at the moment Uchouten Kazoku is its cornerstone. The first episode was unique, well-written, and extraordinarily sharply directed and animated. It seems like it might become an actually mature and thoughtful examination of young adulthood, which I probably don’t need to tell you is something anime virtually never does. Not much else to add – I’ve been waiting for this all week, let’s get to it.
0:02 – I mean seriously, the first damn frame. Is that not a beautiful, evocative establishing shot? The amount of detail there is fantastic, and the color palette makes the mundane beautiful. This show
1:30 – And a great first scene in general. Our MC makes some pretty rash decisions, but he clearly cares for both of them. And the teacher’s silly advances just kind of hammer in the state he’s been reduced to
3:56 – I also like how while many shows attempt to create a sort of frozen moment, this show seems to combine a nostalgia for youth with constant reminders of its ephemeral nature. It’s celebrating life, but life is still passing by
4:34 – “The prince in black, with a young lady.” These tanuki definitely enjoy messing with gender roles. This is a good thing – fuck gender roles
5:31 – “You met up with Benten again? You know she’s dangerous.” I also really like the confident professional Benten being a kind of femme fatale in our lackadaisical hero’s life
6:18 – Interesting that his mother doesn’t care about his appearance one or the other. I guess his brother is just more self-conscious about how they appear to humans?
10:08 – “He didn’t say a word, and just left.” Yep, seems like their brother is just high-strung.
11:01 – “I can’t remember Father’s last words even now.” So they’re just all kind of avoiding this mysterious father’s shadow in their own way?
I also don’t really know what I can say about the dialogue here. It’s so natural, right? It’s kind of universal stuff, since everyone in the first steps of adulthood is kind of muddling through and most people have a conflicted relationship with their parent’s expectations, but the flow of it is just the patter of normal conversation. This isn’t easy – in fact, it is quite a skill to write an average conversation that sounds naturalistic while still holding audience attention. Most shows never once manage it
11:21 – Look at this
11:23 – Look at this
Goddamn is this show pretty
12:35 – So the two assholes are fortune/luck cats? Or just tanuki being weird
16:39 – “And brother, I told them to go to hell!” I really like the dynamic between these guys. I also like how many of the character dynamics this semi-slice of life episode is introducing
17:39 – “Let’s just search around the bridge, dude.” They’re setting up this particular dynamic nicely – the older brother who feels the weight of family obligation but is too high-strung and not really a natural problem solver, and the younger who’s never really cowed to responsibility but is reasonable and clear-headed, if a little aimless
17:56 – “Yaijiro is in a well. And a frog.” “HOW USELESS DOES HE HAVE TO BE?”
19:39 – “Give my regards to your shithead brothers.” Interesting character introduction. And the third brother is once again the only one who thinks to go back and thank her. It’ll be interesting to see whether his “just enjoy everything” philosophy (which this episode’s slice of life tone kinda supported) wins out over his natural competence
20:22 – “He united tanuki society.” I like that this whole episode has really been about their father, but only now does the MC address it
20:32 – “He was eaten in a hot pot.” SERIOUSLY?!
21:12 – The absurdity of being boiled in a hot pot is making for a kinda tonal disconnect here. It’s intentional, but still, what?
Yep, still great. This episode was a little less focused than the first one, but that’s because it was doing more work – the first episode was essentially a vignette in the MC’s life, and this was more of a proper introduction to a great deal of the cast. Despite that, it still worked as a contained story that also illuminated the larger context of their lives. And obviously the craft was still above everything else this season – incredible backgrounds, great animation, great direction, naturalistic writing, and every character is distinct and understandable within a few strokes of characterization. Still easily the surprise and standout of the season