Uchouten Kazoku – 09

Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -3 Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -21 Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -29

In a funny way, I found this episode more melancholy than the last.

Uchouten Kazoku is the sort of series that leaves a great deal unspoken.  It’s fitting in that this is very much a show where two worlds exist side-by-side, wholly interdependent yet seemingly also independent of each other (or even unaware of the other’s existence). It’s that sense of naturalistic surrealism I mentioned a few weeks ago – that which is so fantastical and fanciful is treated with such matter-of-fact nonchalance that it becomes easy to accept it as perfectly normal.

The truth is, last week’s episode was so transcendentally brilliant and emotionally devastating that I actually held off on watching this one for a bit, because I knew there was no way it could operate on the same plane of existence.  And wisely, it doesn’t try – this, like episode seven, focuses on the tapestry of half-revealed mysteries that make up the plot.  As well, it takes time to finally introduce us formally to a character whose shadow has been long, but whose face entirely absent – Kaisei.  I’m still not sure if there was a reason why we were kept from seeing her for better than two-thirds of the series – when we did finally see her face it was done without too much fanfare, and she seems quite normal.  But Morimi-sensei isn’t the sort of writer who’s fond of coincidence, so the thinking here is that we just haven’t been told the reason yet.  And there’s an awful lot we haven’t been told, in general.

Kaisei exists at a very critical and precarious position in the story, as the rickety bridge connecting the Shimogamo and Ebisugawa families.  Like so much else in this mythology the history of their rivalry has been shared with us a tiny bit at a time, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that it’s a the center of much that’s happened so far.  It seems Kaisei’s father Souun married into the Shimogamo family, a deliberate attempt to try and bring them together after what seems to have been a very long feud – indeed, this is the same reason Souichirou arranged for Kaisei to marry Yasaburou.  Souun ended that as soon as Souichirou died, but it’s clear that a great mutual affection existed between Kaisei and the Shimogamo family above and beyond the fact that she’s obviously in love with Yasaburou (and we certainly know Yajirou is in love with her).  There’s a bit of Romeo and Juliet to the situation now – except that Romeo’s brother is in love with Juliet and Romeo in love with a femme fatale named Benten.

There’s much we don’t know about Benten – I find it fascinating that Kaisei calls her a tengu and Yasaburou doesn’t bat an eye or challenge her.  But without a doubt the event – and mystery – around which the entire series orbits is the death of Souichirou.  I’ve seen many theories floated about that night – some argue that Souichirou isn’t dead at all, some argue that he arranged his own death because he was simply finished with life in this world and ready to move on.  There’s some uncertainty about his comment to Akadama-sensei about “being past the point where he can transform” – and that perhaps his dismay over that led him to decide to end his life.  All defensible theories, but none hold water for me.  I think Souichirou was already dead or nearly when he said that to the old tengu (tengu are renowned for their ability to speak with spirits) and on his way to the spirit world, which is why he couldn’t transform.  This is supported by the fact that he was unable to transform in Benten’s presence (which is a mystery in its own right, and potentially a critical one) and thus avoided her, and the fact that he left Yajirou as a human and ended his life as a tanuki.  As for the notion that he faked his death or pre-arranged it, it’s more a matter of intuition than hard evidence – but I feel wholly confident of the former being false, and almost as much of the latter.

No, it seems more and more likely to me that Souun and/or his sons sold Souichirou out to the Kin-youbi Club.  They certainly had the most to gain – power in the tanuki community, potentially the Nise-emon position, and the termination of an engagement they didn’t want to see consummated.  And it seems very likely that they’re crafting a similar scheme now, with the Nise-emon election due on December 26th (4 days after this episode ends) and only a few days before the end of the year – the final “tanuki hotpot” meeting of the Friday Fellows, as it happens, falls on December 27th this year.  Kaisei is obviously torn between the family she owes allegiance to and the one she clearly prefers, and the scene in the sento – where we finally see her face (and a bit more) reveals a girl who’s conflicted and seemingly feeling guilty.  Her “I’m sorry” to Yasaburou was exactly as he described it, both puzzling and ominous – I don’t know if she was lying when she told Yasaburou she didn’t know what her family was planning, but she certainly knows things that she didn’t share with her former fiancee.

Indeed, there’s a sort of ominous air to much of this episode, even the somewhat whimsical scene where Yasaburou goes to Yodogawa-sensei’s office for another strange conversation.  The disconnect in seeing the way Yasaburou speaks so casually about the boiling of tanuki in a hotpot with one of the men who ate his father is truly jarring, especially given how well the two of them get along and what a sincerely nice guy Yodogawa seems in so many ways (and what was with eating those enormous Baumkuchen as if they were doughnuts?).  Benten, meanwhile, remains conspicuously – some might say ominously – absent from the narrative, even as her role as a lynchpin in Souichirou’s death becomes more and more strongly suggested.  Does she cry at Yajirou’s well because she was used as part of the plan to capture Souichirou – to keep him from transforming so he couldn’t escape?  I couldn’t help but note that Mother very pointedly said “only Souichirou, Akadama-sensei and Benten knew” about the effect Benten had on her husband – but what if, somehow, Souun knew as well?  This feels like a warm trail to me, but it leads to a very obvious question – what would motivate Benten to allow herself to be used in such a fashion?

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the end, but I’m pretty sure the dates of the Nise-emon election and the final Kin-youbi meeting of the year aren’t coincidental, and that Kaisei’s apology to Yasaburou was heavy with significance.  One of the Shimogamo siblings seems ticketed for that hotpot, and Benten is likely going to be involved again – willingly or not, and it’s hard to imagine her doing anything unwillingly.  Which one?  Well, Yashirou – sweet, kind Yashirou who “inherited nothing but the innocence” of Souichirou, is the only sibling whose load-bearing role in the story hasn’t been established yet, and my ominous feeling extends more strongly to him than anyone else at the moment.  Uchouten Kazoku is, as I’ve stated, more than anything a story about love – and most of all, the love than binds the Shimogamo family together.  And I can think of nothing that would prove a greater test of that love than if this turn of events comes to pass, and nothing that would more surely force Yasaburou to abandon his amiable acceptance of life’s twists and turns and become a man in the mold of his father.

Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -9 Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -10 Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -11
Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -12 Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -13 Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -14
Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -15 Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -16 Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -17
Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -18 Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -19 Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -20
Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -22 Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -23 Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -24
Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -25 Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -26 Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -27
Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -28 Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -30 Uchouten Kazoku - 09 -31


  1. i

    I too generally wait a few days to watch Uchouten Kazoku. I feel like I want to watch it but don't need to watch it and thus wait for that opportune moment when my head feels clear to watch it.

    I don't think the Ebisugawa's were involved in Soun's death. While the 'sorry' and the fact that they knew about Yajirou's involvement is suspicious, I think more likely they heard about it or saw Yajirou with him that night.

    Dec 27 though is different. I think that if Yaichiro wins the Nisemon election then they intend to have him turned into Tanuki hot pot. That was the meaning behind the 'sorry' as Kaisei may have prior knowledge. The other thing is that Yasaburo called it ominous, which usually speaks of the future.

    Someone will end up as hot pot as this isn't shounen and my guess is for that to be Yajirou. But I think he will leave his well to take someone's place, likely Yaichiro or maybe Kaisei if she ruins her father's plans and gets caught intentionally.

    With four episodes remaining and such a wide number of people to play a part it is difficult to predict UK.

  2. H

    I would find it hard to believe that Soun, Kinkaku, and Ginkaku would even consider sacrificing their daughter / sister for any reason. Even if for some reason Soun loses the Nise-emon election.

  3. i

    I said that Kaisei, against her father's plans, may get caught to spite them for what they do.

  4. G

    Ideally I would love to see the Friday Fellows put the Ebisugawa father in a hot pot. I'm hoping thats what happens at the end of this series run. Would solve alot of problems and end the election drama.

  5. S

    I think similarly that the Ebisugawa family isn't that malicious as well (to the point of wanting to cause the death(s) of the members of the Shimogamo household), but I also have a different interpretation of the "Sorry" scene by Kaisei.

    I think that Kaisei feels partially responsible for their father's death, after (in her mind) driven Yaijrou into utter despair because of her, which lead to the fateful 'secret appointment'. This, in my opinion, lead to her constantly concealing herself to Yasaburo, so as to not "ensnare" the heart of another Shimogamo member.

    In line with this thought is the idea that the cancellation of the engagement by Soun was due to a request by his departed brother much like how Souuchirou visited the professor after his death, because of his promise to Yajirou that "he'll do something about it".

    Though, I doubt any romance would work out in this series, being currently Yaijrou -> Kaisei -> Yasaburou -> Benten, but I would thoroughly enjoy the exploration.

  6. H

    I thought the episode ended on the 24th, with the Christmas tree, fried chicken, and Yaichirou saying "yoku-yokujitsu" for the election.

    Maybe I'm thinking something in the wrong way, but I don't really see how Souichirou's inability to hold a transformation around Benten would incapacitate him from escaping, unless he was trapped by something. And if he was trapped, would he be able to escape anyway? I have no idea how the rules of traps work on tanuki transformations. After last week, I really don't even think that Souichirou's capture by Benten was even that nefarious. I think it was more of a plan by him to try to deal with the threats to his family. He was far too content with it for me to think he had been trapped.

  7. K

    … Kaisei is going to be eaten. She will volunteer herself instead of Yaichiro.


  8. R

    I have to confess that I find it a little creepy how young Kaisei is. Their human forms seem to reflect their actual age, and she looks like she's in the 10-12 range, and Yajirou said he was in love with her years ago…
    I'm hoping this is one show that won't indulge in the weird lolicon fetish that's plaguing so much anime today.

  9. She didn't look anywhere near that young to me – I would have said mid-teens.

  10. i

    I think only animes like Highschool DxD indulge lolicon fetish… among other things.

  11. S

    Well, Yaijrou did say he was in an impossible love with a girl that was too young for her.

  12. Yeah, but even if she's now 18 she's still be far too young for Yajirou, especially at the time he fell in love with her.

  13. d

    I concur, I think animes in general portray their characters as appearing either WAY younger, or WAY older (particularly girls, when they want to fit the loli or busty beauty stereotype).

  14. H

    I was hoping she would have shared some resemblance to her twin brothers. Like having slightly prettier version of their weird eyes. She looks more conventional than I'd hoped.

  15. R

    Guys, please don't forget that they are not humans, but tanuki, age situation is probably kind of different.

  16. R

    I react differently. Uchouten is my most anticipated show every week. I usually will check it out right away but take quite a while to mull over and reflect on my feelings — it just stays in my mind longer than other shows this season.

    This episode, to me, is more like a reset. It has a relatively more light-hearted tone and goes back to the present and the daily lives of the characters, but at the same time it's brimming with danger — and most likely sadness — for what comes ahead. We've seen it numerous times in Uchouten that for whatever event it's telling in the story and what kind of challenge that the Shimogamo's are facing — be it saving mom from Raijin-sama, fighting off the Ebisugawa's at the Gozen Fire Festival, or dealing with the pain of the revelation last week — the Shimogamo's always come back and fight together. It's very much like what Yasaborou said last week that it's their mother's love and father's death that brought them even closer together.

    Kaisei's sorry to Yasaborou definitely piques my interest. It's more of her tone and how she kept hitting the basin before letting out her word, and for her sorry to become Yasaborou's thought before ending the episode, it's too obvious of a hint that another big event is imminent, and that the Shimogamo's will once again fight together as family to protect what they have. It seems to me that Yaichirou will face a life-threatening danger, but his "useless" otouto will come together to his rescue. I actually don't want to see another sacrifice from the Shimogamo's — it will be too sad.

    Some random thoughts:
    – I was curious about why Souun — being Soichirou's younger brother — has a different last name, and this episode explains why.
    – I like how Kaisei and Yasaborou protected their brothers even though they both thought of their brothers as aho.
    – Yasaborou can be quite a sweet talker.
    – Yashirou is such an adorable otouto and acting very much like a human child of his age.
    – I like the smile on Yaichirou's face when the family came together to pray for his success, but what I love the most is how the family gathered together and having fried chicken for Christmas!

  17. Hey, as I've said, Japan is convinced KFC is America's way of celebrating Xmas.

  18. R

    Yeah, I remember, and it's interesting to see it on screen every time :).

  19. d

    I feel like the whole mood of this episode was like a calm before the storm; we didn't get any huge sweeping sceneries like we have before, the Center Stone shrine and the bathhouse were the closest, but still very contained. Since last week was pretty emotionally charged, this quiet episode could also be a reprieve, but from everyone's comments I think the ominous feel isn't just a hunch.

    Maybe I'm missing something, but I have no idea why the Ebisugawa family is so strong. They have henchmen everywhere!

    Something I noted a while back, when Yasaburou got Akadama-sensei to come to the baths, how the tengu didn't, or couldn't, generate the huge gust of wind Yasaburou was obviously readying for (he transformed into a bull). Is Akadama-sensei injured, or just old? Probably nothing, but it tugged at my mind again when we found out Sou lost his powers around Benten.

    What I'm concerned about is the Ebisugawa family turning another of the Shimogamo family in for the hot pot, potentially Yachiro O.o he seems like the most vulnerable, and that would force Yaichiro into a deep despair, unable to truly be a good Nise-mon candidate. I feel like some of the above predictions could come true too, like Kaisei trying to offer herself up instead, or perhaps Yasaborou doing it.

    Regardless of what happens, this series has raised my standards so much, and become an absolute favorite.

  20. R

    About Akadama-sensei, I think it's both. As for for the henchmen, I think the Ebisugawa's bribe them by giving away free Electric Brandy — as what Yasaborou said a couple of episodes ago. Now that we talk about it, that's quite interesting. I mean, the Ebisugawa's most likely are wealthy but not necessarily the leader of the tanuki. It seems to me that the tanuki — at least from the look of it — has got quite an established and civilized society separating politics from business.

  21. Z

    My thought are that the Ebisugawa have come into affluence relatively recently, and so now wish to extend that status politically.

  22. R

    @Zeta Zero: that can be…in RL, there are lots of successful people in the commercial world wanting to get a share in the politics. Another thought can be that Souun simply wants to rival Souichirou's success and tries hard to bring down the Shimogamos in every way that he can. To him, it's more about winning, while Souichirou seeks peace and unification. Just a thought.

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