The Blood of Idiocy

So-san, ep8

This is just a joke–more like, I can’t stay quiet about Uchouten Kazoku for this long. Very minor spoiler to episode 8 ahead (and even so it’s information you know very early on, like episode 1 or 2).

There’s one concern about the show that keeps me quiet–the story and characterization falls too neatly and yet so organically on the defined lines of wabi sabi that every time I try to plot down what I want to say about it I feel like “maybe I should’ve majored in Asian studies or something.” There’s this nagging feeling of inadequacy to try to praise or to criticize Uchouten Kazoku because both I lack the specific tools and I realize these tools are present and beyond my reach. It’s a wholly different feeling of “knowing” than that of “I don’t know that I don’t know,” which is more often the case than not.

Case in point: I really enjoyed episode 8 in terms of the thematic matters, but the moment I try to put that into a framework I want to use something from Adachi and I’m like, dude, this show is basically the superset of Adachi’s dead boy/girlfriend schtick. Except infinitely more¬†filially¬†pious. And then I’m like, dude, “it’s dead people so I might as well start quoting K-dramas.” It’s not exactly modesty; but the feeling isn’t too different from it. It’s a sense of imperfect resignation in light of a beautiful passing of imperfection. Which is like meta-wabi-sabi. Which just leads me to face some palms.

Joking aside, though, let’s talk about PA Works and JP’s statement about how some shows are likable mostly by Asians for a bit. I think the very exact same thing is present for Uchoten Kazoku. It’s calling to our blood. It’s not the way a tanuki always fool around, but more like, this is pressing all those cultural and genetic buttons that (East) Asians have. It’s that sense of beauty from extreme modesty and slight imperfection, like trying to catch a whale by the tail.

But then again the two girls do show up naked here and there, so that’s some universal attraction in Uchouten Kazoku’s favor. It’s times like this where the old tengu’s plea for what gives him excitement in life makes a lot of sense, east or west.

One Response to “The Blood of Idiocy”

  • Telliamed

    I don’t have the same buttons to be pushed, but this resonates with me more than Hanasaku Iroha. The later wants to engage you by evoking your own family relationships. But lacking the same cultural background, there was an uncanny valley like sense for me as an Irish-American.

    The presentation of the Uchouten Kazoku is more of an exposition. I’m not being asked to empathize with Yasaburou, but only to listen and understand. Although there may be a subtext that someone from an Asian family would hear but I don’t.

    Actually, I’d be surprised if there isn’t. When I try to analyze the story, I feel like Gulliver in Lilliput stomping all over metaphors that are invisible to me. Even obvious ones, like the “frog in a well” have to be explained to me.

    I will say that I feel as though I’ve been tricked. It started with a lot of madcap humor (cross-dressing, aerial artillery battles, butt biting). Then before I knew it, I was watching Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Well, I guess it’s like a tanuki to trick me.

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