Category Archives: Uchouten Kazoku

Half-way Into Spring 2017

I’m still watching anime.

I did finish the main OVA series of Legend of Galactic Heroes, or Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu, and it was good. Feels like a very literal map between TV cartoon from book, even though it’s a home-video only release. Like its content, that release is a bit ahead of its time; I think it would have been a killer IP for a Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. If I was working for those groups this is the kind of content I would try to secure.

Saekano S2 – This is at least astute to a degree, but misses the point entirely. I think of the story of Saekano as a bunch of problematic people coming together, with the joke being that the boring girlfriend character is actually the most interesting person among a bunch of weirdos (to put it mildly). It is full of good, subtle, meaningful fanservice and to me, coupled with Misaki’s designs, makes this top notch in that department. It is a story between battling emotions and emotional people, and really repurposes the harem aspect to describe a creative process.

Tsugumomo – Only really watching it because Sanpei Yuko told me to, but also it turns out to be another kind of fanservice show that are not too common these days. At first the subject matter doesn’t seem to be my cup of tea but it is pretty easy to get along, especially there aren’t any shows this season like this. If anything the porno-ish aspect found in the manga doesn’t get played up as much in the anime, maybe for the best…

Renai Bokun – I started to enjoy this show more to think of it like, trash tier episodes of Ranma 1/2. It might as well be. Haramii’s character is pretty extreme! It was hard for me to watch actively, but really fun to play it in the background while I do something less attentive, such as eating.

Re:Creator – I hope it keeps going, because so far it is doing nicely to escalate. The first handful of episodes were fun to watch in the same ways Aldnoah Zero (at least S1) was kind of fun to watch, in that it is a competent production and the story moved along smoothly. The subject matter actually is still kind of problematic. But I think there are some cool places this show can go.

Twin Angel BREAK – Sins of seiyuu watching brought me here, but somehow once the Russian twins were introduced, this series stopped being as hard to watch. Maybe it’s because I’m watching it for the twins, but I don’t think the story was getting any better than it was before. I guess someone has to give it a nod for laying down all the details in the early going that can come around towards the end of the series.

Tsukigakirei – I LOL’d at the book publishing part. Otherwise it’s just very comfortable cute romance I guess.

Akashic Record – Rokuaka is the kind of trash LN that works in the TV anime format, it’s got some dramatic things that map well to a more cinematic mode of storytelling. It’s enjoyable.

Hinako Note – It’s cute but the fanservice in this show sure is jarring. It has a plot so the show is kind of enjoyable at least in terms of tracking the narrative.

Natsume S6 – It’s still going, but I’m behind. Will probably catch up soon. Have to say after 5+ cours this show is just more of the same and one episode doesn’t always differentiate from the next significantly at times. To me it isn’t about what happens, but the atmospheric quality and the way it entertains me. It’s like a box of chocolates, just because I like said chocolates it doesn’t mean I will finish the whole box in one setting.

Uchoten S2 – Still very enjoyable, but it isn’t as compelling as the latter half of S1. The way the anime plays off the highs and lows with almost equal import throws off the storytelling a little. It’s like if you enjoy passive aggression, you would love this show right now.

Eromanga Sensei – It’s such a fun show to watch, I look forward to it every week. What has been surprising is that I thought I was going to get my best bang for the buck from the meta, but the core material is plenty enjoyable too, unexpectedly.

Attack On Titan S2 – Every episode is more fun reveals, so it’s pretty solid thus far.

SukaSuka – WorldEnd is just too confusing of a name… But the setting is really the shining part of the show. I’m just glad to see Koroazu in a lead role of a show that doesn’t suck… or at least it doesn’t suck that much.

Granblue Fantasy – The first couple episodes were great, but the show really tanked after that; not only it was really too cliche, none of the great part of the game got nice highlights until this past couple weeks. I’m still on board but it really needs to pick up the pace.

PiriPiri Chi-chan – In another page of watching cartoons for seiyuu I am totally watching this for Mocho, but I think this is actually a must-watch for any Rieshon fans. The production, the OP/ED themes, and the general makeup of the show are all really fun and pleasant, so it has been surprisingly enjoyable.

Cingeki – Sometimes I forget how eroi some of the comics are, and I’m glad they decided to make them into anime.

Alice & Zouroku – It’s got a thriller opening set but now things are just kind of normal-ish? Not sure I like the change but it hasn’t been bad. The mid-season breaks this cour has been a little more obvious than usual isn’t it…

sin Seven Deadly Sin – Want to watch ep2 but haven’t gotten to it yet, it’s a little obnoxious and I think Renai Boukun is taking up my quota on obnoxiousness this season.

Clockwork Planet – I actually enjoyed this thoroughly chuu2 show to a degree, but it’s also equally insufferable so I haven’t been able to go past 3 episodes.

Danmachi Side anime – On the back burner, haven’t even tried… But I will!

Bahamut Virgin Soul – I’m glad people are getting what they always wanted! /s When I watched the first series I was pretty annoyed, and I find this one a little less annoying but true to form. But I’m also behind on this because I just haven’t gotten that time for a show I’m only mildly interested in.

Busou Shoujo – One and dropped. I probably would enjoy this show but ain’t got the time.

Anonymous Noise – One and on hold I guess. I enjoyed the pilot but I might need to get in the right state of mind to keep going, so maybe it’s worth a binge watch later.

Silver Guardian – This is OK for a Chinese cartoon. Pass.

Atom: The Beginning – Too uppity for my tastes but worth watching at least one. Might go back to it…after I finish other equally uppity anime in my backlog?

Frame Arm Girls – I was fine with the 2 episode I watched but it wasn’t compelling enough to overcome the jetlag induced backlog. Maybe later.

ID-0 – After just one episode I wanted to watch more, but I didn’t want to mess with another subscription service. I think my habits have largely tilted to watching stuff legit if it meant following it week to week. Two exceptions in the form of Re:Creator and Saekano buck that trend, but I’m sure I would rather watch ID-0 over a lot of the other shows on my list.

On a couple notes in terms of trends, this is the first season in the States where Amazon streaming has some specific exclusives I care for, and Netflix still has their usual bags that they lock up for binging only. Chris from Fandompost has sort of laid it out, although the monetary figure will vary on how you approach the system. Honestly I use streaming so I can avoid making my life more complicated, so I’ll just stick with CR (and Daisuki) for now and ignore Netflix and Amazon until they make their offering more compelling.

And it’s not like their products aren’t compelling. I’m tempted to do a month of Netflix HD just to watch the rest of Sidonia and Blame (and LWA if…they had it). I would subscribe to Amazon’s Anime Strike, too, except I’m in Amazon Prime limbo due to free F&F shipping perk. I’m basically already a leg inside Amazon’s system habit-wise. What needs to change is providing a way for people who can’t get the shipping Prime straightened out, which might mean a more ala cart thing (which makes sense for everyone, not just my case). The second thing is I want more of a commitment from Amazon on anime. If I switch to paid Prime that is one year of commitment (I’m not going to bother with monthly subs with this, sup, the new Amazon credit card), so they better not suck 6 months later. Overall the jury is still out on Amazon and I am in no rush to join until there’s some track record first. (Well, there IS IDOLM@STER.KR waiting but so far that’s just the K-Drama-fying of the literal concept, which one’s mileage will vary on how they feel about k-dramas.)

PS. At this rate, I’m probably going to spring for a kindle unlimited membership before Anime Strike. LOL.

PPS. I’m headed to Anime North! Just going to chill out in Toronto for a while, as the freight train that is AX prep continues to run unabated. Come say hello!

Some Summer 2013 Season Thoughts

Shoot first ask questions later style post.

Honoka Mutsu

I generally like Servant x Service. I think in a lot of ways it is an improvement over Working, but it lacks magnetic characters. I think taking on adult sensibilities gives it a new flavor but at the same time brings too much into play that shaves away the charm of a simpler punchline and makes it harder to embrace. “It” here being both the jokes and characters.

I think Silver Spoon anime comes across just a little heavy handed, but at the same time that’s probably necessary to drive the deeper points of the story. I’m not sure how the manga handles it, but this Silver Spoon feels like it is a pretty deep work. I also think that this could have been a very cultural-specific sort of a thing, but the saving grace is that processing basic raw ingredients in agriculture isn’t so different this day and age, across different countries, thanks to scientific advancements. In other words, the core message is somewhat universal, and moreover a lot of them don’t have anything to do with agriculture. The pizza episode was a great example of a modern day stone soup story and it definitely was the best one out of them all.

Out of all the shows I couldn’t make it out of episode 3, I’m most intrigued by Kaminai and Monogatari series. I’m pretty sure I will catch up on the latter series.

I really enjoyed Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ episode 6 and 7. In the end of 7 Potte took a photo of the fireworks and the backs of her friends. What ISO was that film? Did she change it from her camera at some point after the competition? That said I’m kind of behind so hopefully I’ll get to catch up in the coming week.

MJPR ending was a sea of flags. I mean, it totally pulled an Evangelion in terms of the joke flags. Too bad the story came across as too simple, for me. It’s like a Hollywood cliche. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t executed well enough to be enjoyable. It was enjoyable, for sure, but a little too shallow for my tastes.

The two Oonuma Shin series were a riot to watch. Good for him. They executed well, and despite the obvious and usual resource-saving techniques used everywhere, Illya delivered all that action and Watamote was a very clever show. They exceeded expectation in a good way, but that forces me to examine my expectations for Watamote and Prisma Illya to begin with–admitted they were somewhat low. Still there were some obvious bright spots in both shows. Izumi Kitta simply was perfect as Tomoko. Besides the convincing action scenes of Illya, Mai Kadowaki by now has a ton of Illya speaking time, so she wears that role like a comfy sweater.

Compared to her performance in Genei Taiyou, at least, Ilya was simply delightful. It’s not to say Day Break Illusion would’ve been helped by that, but in the end it was a weird way to highlight how different the two magical girls show were. The weird thing is, as bad as Genei was, it still had a lot of good points to it. Otaku media, I guess.

Titan and Railgun remain as the two top least serious business anime on my watch list. Especially Railgun. I see people taking it seriously all the time, though… I don’t get how people can do this without making a fool out of themselves.

Free is a fun watch on its own merits. The manservice for the most part can be side-stepped easily. I don’t think the rest of the show is really that noteworthy–about on par with Tamako Market I guess. My complaints still stand, but the animation and story is enough to keep my attention.

Kaminomi is also a lot of fun, as a non-manga reader. It’s not often you hear Asumin and Ayachi in roles like these. This third season of Kaminomi changes the gambit of the show for me–my favorite episodes in the last 2 seasons were the filler ones. By pumping the plot forward like season 3 they removed some of my complaints about the forced pacing, but it also took those charming down-time moments away. I guess I can’t say I like it, but it certainly can be a lot worse.

Eccentric Family is my top show this season and easily a top 5 candidate for 2013. No need to waste my breath at this stage, lots of other people are doing it. I’ll take my time to think about it…

The surprise hit this season is actually Love Lab. I really dig the way it gives a normal girls-be-girls kind of a setup, a backbone. It also has boys. It’s overall just delightful. If anything it could be funnier.

Genshiken Niidaime is as good as I expected to be, which is a high bar to clear. It’s still one of the best meta anime out there in recent memory. But because I expected this, it’s not particularly delightful since it can’t quite surprise me. Even if I have the manga and have been saving it until I’m done with this anime. I really enjoy some of the cross-cultural jokes especially.

Well, I probably should watch K3 before making those claims about Genshiken. I saw some cool caps from that show. But it doesn’t distinguish itself beyond the really nonsense stuff. Is this show any better than Kinmoza?

C3-bu, on the other hand, is a big surprise  in a different way. I also really enjoyed it but I had a hard time talking to people about it because following that show on CR is basically following it a week behind. It comes out on Mondays and the new episode airs Thursday–given how busy I was this summer I basically end up watching the episode usually on the weekend, Thursdays being the earliest. Sorry Crunchyroll, please never do this.

As for the show itself, in a way I like how it approaches the pathos from the “negative” side of things. You can state the problem in a negative way or a positive way, and the solution would feel very different depending on how you approached it. I think it’s a great litmus test. I also love how it gives Yura all these “reality marble” sort of way to show whatever it is C3-bu was trying to get across. Anime no Chikara yo. In a lot of ways this is a great show, in the way that, for example, MJPR fails to achieve.

I thought I would be all over Kinmoza, but this show didn’t have a higher gear to kick in to so it lost against the other shows of this season for my viewing time. It’s like I need to save certain times of the day when I am awake enough to take in these low-tension shows like Tamayura and Uchouten Kazoku (at least earlier on) to enjoy them fully, bumping out shows like Kinmoza and K3.

Gatchaman Crowds is the odd ball of the season. I guess that is only expected given that it is a Kenji Nakamura anime. However it is also a pretty fun show carrying the same kind of weirdo-yet-progressive ideas Nakamura has been sprouting. Whoever lets him have the freedom to make weird shows like this, God bless you and I hope you keep doing it for another 50 years.

Anyways, Gatchaman Crowds is also kind of the show that could “go wrong” really easily. It’s like Fractale, basically, that if the execution dropped something important, it’ll lose all credibility. I guess we have one more week to find out.

If there is one guilty pleasure this season for me, that would be Ro-kyu-bu SS. SHOW YOU GUTS COOL SAY WHAT saikou daze. No, more like because it is a koushien story after all. Kanae Itou is being her usual self in that show too, which is something getting rarer by the season. I also have to say it has a weird effect watching this right before/after MJPR. Iguchi!

I’m going to marathon Rozen Maiden…from episode 6. It’s fun. But probably less fun than marathoning Senyuu and Teekyuu back to back. Or interweaved. Which is something I’ll have to do too.

Bonus round:

  • Favorite OP: Servant x Service. However C3-bu’s final sequence is woaaah moeeeee. Also, kz song is so kz.
  • Favorite ED: Drowning in saudade in fhana’s Che Sera Sera, although I will reserve 10% for LOLI LOLI GROWING, whatever that means.
  • Most surprisingly good: C3-bu
  • Most surprisingly bad: MJPR
  • Funniest: Love Lab…or Teekyu.
  • Most surprising: Gatchaman Crowds
  • Most Mamiko: Uchouten Kazoku
  • MVP: Rento Kirishima

Dehumanizing Uchouten Kazoku

By “dehumanizing” maybe it is better to call it “tanuki-fying.”

The Eccentric Family

Here’s a thought experiment. Rewatch Uchouten Kazoku. Whenever you see a human-form tanuki, try to imagine it as tanuki-form instead.

What does this do? When Yasaburo looks longingly at Benten (maybe at the ED, maybe when they’re walking in the moonlight, whenever), the meaning becomes obvious.

When Yashiro looks at  Benten behind his brother’s back and takes her doughnut, what does it look like?

Is this why Soichiro can’t stay in shape? Or rather, doesn’t that explain why, in a thematic sense?

The family of tanuki take shapes from humans to live in this society, but they cannot betray who they are, their blood so to speak–as tanuki, as fools, as whatever. When mom was living with her rescuer, she looked at him with those eyes, and it says everything universal that has to be said. It’s this message that goes beyond the bounds of what makes them tanuki or human or tengu. It’s like Yasaburo’s filial piety-like devotion to Akadama-sensei, even if he is not one of them, although now we’re treading on iffy grounds since I have no clue what tengu and tanuki are suppose to do with each other. It’s like when 8Ken has to eat to love (and to live). And you thought I was joking (entirely)?

Another concern I have in parallel with this is that unless we are mindful of the whole “blood” connection and in regards to what a tanuki is, it’s not entirely obvious that this layer of the story exists. Especially from western eyes, it’s too easy to forget that these human-looking things do not have minds and hearts of humans, although they too carry admirable qualities. In other words, think Natsume Yuujinchou. I mean, a tengu is a youkai. I’m not sure what qualifies for a transforming tanuki though. Maybe this is just a man-animal-supernatural sort of a sandwich. But we cannot subject Yasaburo and his family to the same standards as we subject other human beings in the same context. Or rather, this is how we can tell when the story is trying to make a point.

For example, Yasaburo loves humans. Think about it–he is the single visible tanuki that has extensive interaction with humans, within the story. The only other character that comes close to him is Mom, whose backstory explains why she does what she does. What does this say about Yasaburo? What does this say about Benten?

PS. It’s like “blood of the fool” in the way I draw out overarching themes across different shows that I watched recently. You know what they say about the human cognitive ability of pattern-seeking and forming.

Uchoten Kazoku: When You Got Sauce in Your Wasabi

By that I mean when you got saudade in your wabi-sabi.

Or when you got anime in your Kyoto-style life.

Or when you got moe in your tanuki.

I see why they like Kaisei.

Kaisei Ebisugawa - She doesn't go Hitode on them

More seriously, while there’s nothing particularly problematic about Uchouten Kazoku as a whole, the more I watch the show slowly unravel itself in typical Asian familial tragedy manners, the less I feel compelled by its narrative. Maybe it is partly due to the whole PA Works animation angle. Maybe it has to do with the relatively contemporary setting. Maybe it’s because Yuasa’s Tatami Galaxy set a false and unrealistic standard/tone to what I thought this sort of a story could be. It’s kind of like falling in love with somebody only to realize that person is not who you think it is, in a good, “hey I can live with this” sort of way. It’s fine and practical but largely devoid of glamour.

I guess this is the ultimate problem when every other show you get hyped about has to do with some social taboo like Twincest for the Win or A Little Sister Is Fine Too or Oh Man That Pig Is So Cute And I Want to Eat Him. And I’m not even talking about Silver Spoon. Fantastical Tanuki Family Bickering Foolishness has a tall wall to climb. But then again Kaisei is close enough for incest in some jurisdictions, assuming if she and her mate are human. I guess this is where Uchouten Kazoku could’ve really played things up. Let the tanuki be tanuki.

Which is to say, 8Ken will never make it as a Friday Fellow because what defines true love for him is some shallow shadow of its true nature.

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.