Uchouten Kazoku 2 – 11

Uchouten Kazoku 2 - 11 - 01That was certainly an ep that had a little of everything – in fact I’d say it had a lot of everything, like a nabe overstuffed with everything from the pantry and the fridge besides (as long as it’s not stuffed with tanuki, it’s fine by me).  Pretty much every plot thread that had been dangling this season got tangled up, and while there wasn’t really anything resolved (there’s the finale still to come, and of course the novels are still ongoing) it certainly set the table (as long as there’s no tanuki on it, it’s fine by me) for a blockbuster final episode next week.

Uchouten Kazoku 2 - 11 - 02Some of this stuff you could see coming like an Eizan (real or false) Electric Railway car speeding up from Shikoku, while others were pretty much out of left field.  I certainly didn’t expect to see Yashiro’s lab tied into the plot this way, through an explosion that appears to have been staged as a means for Kinkaju to “discover” evidence that it was in fact the Shimogamo that killed Soun.  Given that we pretty much knew that the Ebisugawa Kureichirou we’ve been looking at is a fake, it seems impossible not to conclude that everything from the moment Yashiro was given that lab in the first place was part of an elaborate setup.

Uchouten Kazoku 2 - 11 - 03This episode was really about the Ebisugawa clan more than anything – about their perpetual scheming, yes, but also the divisions within their own family.  Given what we now know (thanks to Yajirou heroically zipping home with the real Kureichirou in tow) – that “Kureichirou” was in fact Soun, who faked his own death – it seems the key question is “who knew what, and when did they know it?”  It’s probably a safe bet that Kaisei wasn’t in on any of this; a good bet (though not a lock, I think) that Kinkaju has been in on it since the beginning.  But Ginkaju appears to have been left out of it – at the very least, he has some sympathy for Yashiro and Tousen, and doubts about whether they could really do what Kinkaju accuses them of.  And when Kaisei turns up missing (Ginkaju finds her “elopement” note) Ginkaju seems likely to turn to Tousen for help.

Uchouten Kazoku 2 - 11 - 04Who’s one wild card in this deck?  The real Kureichirou himself, of course – though one suspects he’s not entirely sympathetic to the schemes of his father.  There was a reason he left home in the first place, of course, and he was willing to accompany Yajirou back once he heard he was being impersonated (and had probably figured out by who).  Then there’s Tenmaya, who – if the “shooting” at the Kinyoubi Club was a ruse – was in cahoots with Soun as well.  But Tenmaya is a trickster, and he has no loyalty to anyone but himself – when he “sold” the Nidaime’s gun to Soun (so he could plant it as evidence) he sold him a fake.

Uchouten Kazoku 2 - 11 - 06This is the curse that follows Soun through all his schemes – the castles he builds are always made of sand, and he has no true friends anywhere in the world, only allies of convenience.  The one element of all this that really saddens me is that Soun’s death was all a sham – because it was rather sad and beautiful, I thought.  Was it really so important to him to be trick magister, that he would go to these lengths and condemn another of his extended family to the pot?  Clearly, yes – because clearly, the hatred Soun feels towards Souichirou’s family is so ingrained now that it’s impossible to say where the hatred ends and the man begins.

Uchouten Kazoku 2 - 11 - 07There are all kinds of interesting Easter eggs scattered through this episode (like Kureichirou telling Yajirou that it was his father that named the little girl he met in Kincho – “Seiran”).  And there’s the wonderful father’s day gift of a dream conversation between Yasaburou and Souichirou, full of all the sardonic warmth and tenderness that imbues all the relationships in the Shimogamo clan.  But urgent matters win the day – Yasaburou and Kaisei are about to be cooked after all (I assume the latter was not part of Soun’s scheme), and Yaichirou tosses aside the matter of the Trick Magister election to go and save his brother.  He’s beaten to the punch, though, by the heroic Yodogawa-sensei – (poorly) disguised as “Pompoko Kamen“.  He manages to get the ball rolling, at least, though if Yaichirou and Gyokuran hadn’t showed up in tiger form it’s hard to imagine all that would have ended well.

Uchouten Kazoku 2 - 11 - 08Finally, we have the two jokers in the deck – the Nidaime and Benten, whose roles in the denouement are yet to be determined.  Do I judge Benten less harshly because she sheds tears over devouring Yasaburou?  No, more harshly if anything – her crocodile tears mean nothing when help up against her actions.  As for Nidaime, one imagines he’s going to be rather cross – Soun’s scheme was, ultimately, an attempt to put one over on him, as the arbiter of the election.  And when Kinkaju presents the fake gun to him, he realizes he’s been used as part of an elaborate hoax by Soun.  I won’t go so far as to say Nidaime feels any loyalty to Yasaburou per se (though he might), but he certainly sees himself as a gentleman and a man of honor – an honor which has been besmirched by all this ugliness.  He’s going to have his say next week, you can bet on that – and my bet is that his goal will be to restore some integrity and dignity to tengu-tanuki society.

 

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6 comments

  1. T

    To be honest this week left me really sad. I mean how low do you have to sink that you are willing to condemn your own family members (worst off your daughter to the hot pot). At this point Soun has to be punished for his actions, I don’t remember if he was exiled as a form of punishment or it was a self-imposed exile, but this time he involved a tengu in his schemes and while Nidaime is a gentlemen I don’t think he will let Soun off so easily so Soun ending in this series might be more grim than we initially thought.

    *sigh* in regards to Benten while I try to understand her, she honestly does not get sympathy from me. If she really didn’t want to do this then she would not part take in the practice of eating tanuki periods.

    I got nothing else to say except the final episode leaves me excited how this season will end.

  2. Until proved otherwise, I’d like to think Soun at least didn’t intend for Kaisei to get caught up in this. It certainly wasn’t necessary to his plans that she would be, and he presumably had no idea she snuck off to see Yasaburou.

  3. I thought there was a possibility the fake Kureichirou orchestrated it so that Kaisei would would bring Yasaburo out of hiding so that Tenmaya could get him. Meaning that Soun could have used Kaisei as bait intentionally.

    As well, it’s hard to say how much Kaisei knew at this point. Though its safe to say she’s against her father’s actions, she was in fact the last person to see her father’s “dead” body, when she was left alone by Yasaburo. What happened then?

  4. B

    The real Kureichirou cuts his hair, and that made be think he might have known from the beginning as you said. I remember Ashitaka cutting it off in Princess Mononoke and it’s supposed to symbolize a dramatic, life-altering change. So I have to wonder just what he’ll be up to in the finale, because he must have something of a plan. He seems much more like his Uncle with his perpetual mirth. In fact, he seems like a trickster.

  5. H

    Up until this point I had been mostly indifferent towards Benten. It’s always bothered me that Yasaburou would feel such affection for one of the people who ate his own father, but I understand that there are aspects of tanuki life that they just accept as part and parcel. Since he was always so friendly with her I occasionally wondered if Benten wasn’t as awful as I sometimes perceived her to be. However, this really was the deciding moment for me. She is just plain awful and only cares about herself. If those tears are genuine in the slightest, it is merely her lamenting the loss of a source of entertainment and not much else IMO. I hope Yasaburou will finally stop crushing on her at last and be with the wonderful Kaisei (especially since it seems that he does have feelings for Kaisei that he just hasn’t acknowledged yet).

  6. Comment re-added:

    dirty water imp

    Agreement with HoTaRu^. Benten’s tears are sincere, but they’re for herself. She’s too self-involved for anything else.
    Hawaiian shirt tanuki is not much better, favoring expediency as opposed to honor. But then, the tanuki elders are a feckless bunch. Or is it their worldview that it’s all out of their hands? Take the path of least resistance?

    Booshwashna

    In reply to dirty water imp.

    I think the best way to think of it is that the Tengu are much like Greek Gods, Benten is a demigod like Heracles, and the Tanuki are regular people pulled by the strings of fate. The Tanuki might fight to survive, and they would respect any benefactor on the level of Prometheus, but they’d be loath to try to tempt the fate of the gods. So, they humbly submit and ask for their protection and guidance. But as with the Iliad and the Odyssey, currying favor with one god can make an enemy of another. I’m not saying I like benten, or that I excuse her, but she is trying to become more than a human, and it’s interesting that the transition might make her less in certain ways. Though the interesting thing about the old gods is how human and petty they can be. Still, she might be crying because she is in a contest with the Nidaime and believes that compassion to be a human weakness. That to truly become a tengu, she must leave the world of humans and Tanuki far beneath her wings and sight. That’s my interpretation as of now, but we shall see.

    dirty water imp

    In reply to Booshwashna.

    Agreement with much of your take. I had mentioned something similar here: http://lostinanime.com/2017/06/uchouten-kazoku-2-10/
    The issue with Hawaiian shirt tanuki’s actions has more to do with how easily he accepts Kinkaju’s suggestion to appoint fake Kureichirou as Trick Magister. Hawaiian shirt tanuki wants to go to Hawaii more than anything else. The elders seated behind him seem to be go with the flow types. None of them stand for Yaichirou.
    Now this fecklessness is very real. The world we live in is full of this. I guess it’s the difference between choosing to be a mook and choosing to act on conscience. As Abuto from Gintama once said, “Life is just one important decision after another.” My view is the elders, by choice, are unworthy.

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