Uchouten Kazoku – 10

Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -10 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -25 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -28

Sometimes even knowing something terrible is coming doesn’t dull the impact.

Let’s cut straight to the chase – when I wrote my post last week, I was strictly guessing about everything I wrote.  But unless Uchouten Kazoku has just pulled off one of the great misdirections of all-time, it looks as if pretty much all those guesses were right on the money.  The key, I think – the “eureka moment” – was when we were told Souichirou was unable to transform in Benten’s presence.  While the entire picture didn’t reveal itself immediately in my mind, that tidbit of information was the spark that illuminated the room.  Of all the guesses I made in that post, Benten’s involvement in Souichirou’s death was the one that seemed the most inevitable.

All told, everything that was revealed has taken the story in an incredibly depressing direction.  And in doing so, it seems to have framed the series in the kind of straight-up good vs. evil terms we don’t see that often in anime these days.  It’s effective because the Shimogamo family has so convincingly and expertly been established as genuinely good – I can hardly think of a depiction of familial love as moving and authentic as what we’ve seen in this series.  They’ve held together through incredible sadness, and it seems as if life really owes them a break – but so far at least, fate isn’t playing fair.

The counterpoint to that, of course, is the Ebisugawa, minus-one.  There was understandable resistance from some viewers to the notion that Souun could be so vile as to sell out his brother-in-law to the Kin-youbi Club, and to plan to do the same to his nephew (one of them, at least, even if we weren’t sure which one).  But honestly, it was really the only scenario that made sense – and we’ve seen little from Souun or his sons to indicate that they’re in any way constrained by the bonds of decency or familiar responsibility (hell, they tried to shoot the Shimogamo out of the sky with fireworks).  As presented here we have a story of pure, despicable envy causing a weak tanuki to do terrible things.  Souun was apparently in love with Mama Shimogamo, too, and the bad blood started from there and while Souichirou probably didn’t waste much time thinking about it, Souun apparently never stopped doing so for a moment.

If anything, what really cuts here is the reveal of Benten’s role, even if I suspected it was coming.  I pretty much knew Souun and his sons were awful people, but there was at least a shred of hope that Benten had something better than that at her core.  For her, it seems, it was simply a case of needing a prize to offer up for a seat on the Friday Fellows (a rare opportunity, one supposes) and thus, having overlapping self-interest with Souun.  She’s a true femme fatale, indeed – and the thing is, when Yasaburou told Kaisei that he “suspected for a long time it was something like that” I bet he includes Benten’s role in it, too, and is unable to stop himself being in love with her in spite of it.  That’s the very definition of a femme fatale, really – as I said after episode six “Benten is the faerie light that leads Yasaburou into peril, Kaisei the ladder which returns him to safety – yet it’s the fire he chases, even knowing the danger.”

So much make sense now, with this new information.  Certainly we know why Benten cries by Yajirou’s well, though I give her no credit – if her actions torment her in any way I’m glad of it, but they don’t mitigate the evil of what she did one bit.  We know why Kaisei said “I’m sorry”, and a lot more too – we know why she refuses to show herself to Yasaburou (shame and a reluctance to ensnare another Shimogamo) and why she loathes her family so much.  The poor girl was forced to witness what her father did (and I suspect he knew full well that charm was his transformed daughter, too), yet was powerless to do anything to stop it, and now she’s been forced to live with the shame of it ever since.  But we also know something else of importance that the relevant party doesn’t know yet – what happened that night wasn’t Yajirou’s fault.  Not only was Souichirou’s drunken state not a factor, as the great tanuki himself said “I don’t get dead drunk.”  Souichirou was in control of everything but the ability to transform – and when Yajirou (who’s emerged as probably the saddest and most tragic person in the cast) finds this out perhaps at the very least he can forgive himself.  And in the process, maybe regain the ability to transform – and soon enough to be a factor in rescuing Yaichirou from the Kin-youbi hot pot that Souun has reserved for him.

There’s one other element in all this sadness that brought me some comfort, and that’s the fact that Souichirou didn’t choose to end his life, as some had suggested.  This was a man who had much to live for – including a son so young he had no real opportunity to have a father.  For Souichirou to have left behind a family who loved him so dearly out of some sense that he’d fulfilled his duties as a tanuki would have been an obscenely selfish act, and one that seemed totally out of character with the noble spirit we’ve come to know.  His life was taken against his will, but he left the world with his dignity and pride intact – and he left behind a family that carries on the goodness that was fundamental to who he was, each in their own way.  That Souun is now trying to take that away too only deepens the sense of tragedy and outrage that dominate my feelings in watching these events unfold.

As to what happens now, there are still far too many roads that might be followed to guess which direction Uchouten Kazoku will go.  It seems that Yaichirou and his mother have been captured (he intended for the pot), and we know that Yashirou is trapped in a warehouse at Denki Brandy.  Yasaburou is surrounded by Souun and this thugs, who have Kaisei safely in-hand.  Yajirou will have a role in resolving this I’m sure, once he learns the truth – though it’s an open question just how he’ll learn it.  But I can’t help but think that Yodogawa-sensei might just play a role, too, and even Akadama-sensei and Benten (not that it’d earn my forgiveness even if she did).  There’s still the fundamental question of what the Friday Fellows are doing, which I believe to be fundamentally wrong no matter how much it seems to be fatalistically accepted by tanuki – and I wonder how Yodagawa-sensei’s view might change, if he were presented with the entire truth.

Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -8 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -9 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -11
Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -12 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -13 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -14
Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -15 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -16 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -17
Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -18 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -19 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -20
Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -21 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -22 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -23
Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -24 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -26 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -27
Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -29 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -30 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -31
Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -32 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -33 Uchouten Kazoku - 10 -34


  1. N

    "There's one other element in all this sadness that brought me some comfort, and that's the fact that Souichirou didn't choose to end his life, as some had suggested. This was a man who had much to live for – including a son so young he had no real opportunity to have a father"

    Me too, I thought his discussion with Akadama sensei wasn't enough. Now I am relieved. It makes sense. And it means the date he was talking about was not his date with Yajirou but with Souun.

  2. H

    If the Friday Fellows are not aware of the sentience of the tanuki (and in general the tanuki hide their sentience from the humans), then I find it hard to condemn them in their ignorance, as it's little different from cooking any other animal. Even Yodagawa is hardly convinced either that Souichirou talked to him, that Mother was anything more than an injured animal, or that Yasaburou is actually a tanuki. It's not like the humans really know that Benten is a tengu (for all intents and purposes) either.

  3. Well yes, but my point is that doesn't change the nature of the act itself (and I might argue that if indeed they are ignorant, there's a lot of will involved in ignoring what's convenient to ignore). That's why I'm very curious to see how Yodagawa – who seems the most thoughtful of the bunch – will react when he knows the full truth.

  4. S

    If they are truly unaware of tanuki sentience then it is no different to cooking up a wild pig. Pigs are pretty intelligent creatures after all.

    HOWEVER .. Benten clearly knows and has known from the start, and used the murder of Souichirou to advance her political purposes in the Tengu and human worlds. Even though she was brought into the Tengu world against her will, I can't begin to think about forgiving her.

    I suspect that Souichirou also had some pretty powerful enemies in the Tengu world after the trick he performed.

  5. s

    This episode was so tense that I forgot how silly it was to see a frog eating fried chicken.

  6. i

    Smack daddy, Souun is a heartless fag. I really didn't think a character who is so envious would exist. I did think that Yaichirou would be the one that would be captured for a hot pot, but I thought with dates Souun would only use that tactic if he lost the Nise-mon, but considering how it has been years since Soichirou died Souun might have wanted to skip the wait to be elected.

    The wind though was foreshadowing which side Benten will be on in this fight, probably the Shimogamo's and I think it will be Yaijirou's role to make her do it. And surely one of them or Sensei will rescue Yasaburo. I think the hot pot will go ahead though but the Tanuki in it is likely one of Souun, Yaijirou and Kaisei for me.

  7. C

    Surprisingly, while this episode was defiantly depressing I got the sense that there is going to be a happy end where none of the Shimogamo family get boiled. All the pieces are in place for a heroic rescue and for the family to defend each other!…hopefully.

  8. It's not going to be a happy ending for me even if Souun gets boiled, though, as much as I loathe him. I think the whole issue of tanuki hotpot needs to be addressed head-on.

  9. S

    I'd agree with that as well. As evil as Souun is he needs to pay for his crimes for a LONG time, rather than a quick boilup!

    What surprised me so much in this episode was not so much Souun role in all this, we all knew he was an asshole although perhaps not a murdering asshole. What did surprise me was the role that Benten played. She played an active participant in his murder, and unlike probably the rest of the Friday Fellows has been knowing killing and eating sapient beings ever since.

    However, i'd say that this is not going to play out as Souun wants. He obviously thinks he has Benten in his pocket again but as is apparent she is not a person that likes to be used.

  10. B

    Is it just me or does Souun imply when he has Yasaburou surrounded that he inteneds to kill the entire family? He calls them "guests of honor at a banquet" or something like that.

    I am simultaneously disgusted, angry, sad, and amazed at the cruelty on display in this episode. Who would have thought this after watching just the first episode?

  11. d

    Honestly, this episode made my stomach twist, like the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones. Something about a family being so betrayed, and all simultaneously, makes the hurt so uncomfortable. From start to finish, I just had the worst churning feeling, and it got really bad in that last scene with Yasaburou's capture. In anime, I feel like so often we expect some super power to suddenly come out of the hero (like Yasaburou could transform like his brother, into some massive dragon to fight all those captors). But here's where that kind of reality-fantasy mix of UK really hits, in that they have these really magical powers, yet it's not enough to solve everything.

    God, I think the reason we all hate the Ebisugawas so much is the smirky, too proud demeanor they all have, in everything they say and do. Whoever does the voice acting for Gin and Kin does an awesome job of just loading so much derision in their voice; I always feel this extremely primal dislike of them, which surprises me since in modern stories, writers try so hard to make all characters understandable. Maybe Ebis will get some redemption, through Kaisei perhaps. But it'll take a lot.

  12. R

    I think some of us may have the experience of picking up a book from a bookstore (or downloading it to your tablet) simply out of curiosity. You went home, checked out the first couple of chapters, and found out that you had fallen in love with it — you got yourself so involved in the story and your mind so wrapped up in the characters. You couldn't stop reading it and didn't care about eating or sleeping — you just wanted to reach to the end. Watching Uchouten is a bit like that, to me, and the cliffhanger doesn't help at all — I can't shake it off that I want more…now. I think when the show ends, I will watch it again in one go. After all, Uchouten is adapted from a novel, so the feeling will probably be like reading a book that you can't let go of.

    There's a lot to like about this episode. Before it went downhill with the looming danger, I like that it started off with the bonding of the brothers, and Yaichirou's send-off by the whole family was quite touching. It's also funny to watch Mama tanuki shove those energy drinks down Yaichirou's throat. These all set a nice contrast to the danger coming up. Like many speculated, Yajirou probably will come out of his shell and save the family. I wonder if he will remember Souichirou's last word to him — which may give him a boost — and if — like Enzo said last week — Yashirou will play a role in the big rescue.

    The final mystery of the story is Benten. As mysterious and attractive as she is, I never find myself attached to her — and now we see her evil side, which doesn't help at all. Perhaps she's meant to be a closed book till the end, and perhaps she has a valid and touchy story to tell — we may even find out why Yasaborou has a crush on her — but I don't think I will feel a connection whatsoever. This may pose a challenge to wrap the series on a high note that I will like, but I should simply let the story unfold.

    Finally, I think a big compliment should go to you, Enzo. I remember you were suspecting Souun's involvement in Souichirou's death a long while ago, and you figured out Benten's role, as well. Great job, Enzo!

  13. Did you sense a great deal of foreboding in that family goodbye scene, though? I sure did.

  14. R

    I did…I was worried, and I lost my thinking that perhaps another Shimogamos — Yajirou or Yashirou — would be gone. I certainly don't want it to happen, but I even suspected that it could be Yasaborou — he inherited Souichirou's idiot blood and had the talk with Benten — but then he's supposed to be the MC… And I thought if it could be Akadama-sensei, but that will be far-fetched. Geez, I think I want to cry now even without knowing what's next… I'm sure that Benten plays a role — probably an important one, too — but do wonder how Benten's story is going to be weaved in without taking too much focus away from that of the Shimogamos'. I will just quietly but desperately wait.

  15. e

    The third screenshot. Aaaah the heartstrings yanking.

    I'm really really REALLY rooting for the Yaijirou rescue train right now. You can do it frog-baby. By the power of family love truth rage and mighty fried chicken.
    About who's tipping him off in case honestly I don't know. The Ebisugawa twins might even let him know to mock him without consequences in their belief he's powerless. Trust on their stupid malice as a blessing in disguise…
    The other main candidates are seemigly Yasaburo – not captured yet -, Kaisei, Akadame, Benten herself. Kaisei is pretty good at transforming so she might manage to use that to sneak away for instance. And wasn't Akadame required to attend the Nise-emon election too? If so then once the whole Shimogamo family is missing the event + storm caused by the Raijin fan he should get suspicious.
    Whimsical Benten doesn't like to be used and has her own agenda so she might be multiple-crossing (for instance back during the festival&fireworks episode she was on the Ebis ship but once the fight started she discreetely gave Yasaburo the hint about the Raijin fan and we know what the result of that was. Foreshadowing? Possibly even 'retroshadowing'?). And maybe she does feel a bit of guilt over that fateful hotpot in spite of her 'lightness of being'. She still has to return to the ground and her tears fall although she flies as she has no weight (talking of omoi…). But at least since she was abducted there are enough elements both stated and between the lines to make her both like and despise tanuki tengu humans and even herself. And this time I'm waiting to see which sentiment will prevail and in favour of whom.

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