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Literature / The Eccentric Family

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Once, I wrestled with the difficult question of how one should live as a tanuki. I felt I understood how to live an interesting life, but it was unclear what else I should do. And then somewhere along the line, idling my time away doing nothing, I realized that there's nothing else I need to do besides live an interesting life.
Yasaburou Shimogamo

In a supernatural version of the modern day, The Eccentric Family (Uchouten Kazoku) presents diverse Kyoto, where tanuki and tengu live side-by-side with humans. The tanuki Shimogamo family was once the head of the entire Kyoto tanuki society, but after the unfortunate death of their patriarch, Chief Souichirou, the family falls into disrepair as his four sons struggle to grow up and regain their foothold in society. This series follows Yasaburou, third son of the Shimogamo family, who inherited his father's idiocy. Having been taught by legendary tengu master Akadama and with close ties to human-tengu Benten, who is both a member of the tanuki-eating Friday Fellows and his longtime crush, Yasaburou's life is complicated.

Quirks and eccentricities abound. Yasaburou's brothers are their own curiosities. Yaichirou, the eldest, is aloof but overreacts to everything. Yajirou, the second oldest, is only motivated when drunk and lives as a frog at the bottom of a shrine well. Lastly, Yashirou, the youngest, works under his abusive cousins but has a knack for creating electricty. Their mother is a theatrical bifauxnen known as the "Black Prince" who's very afraid of thunder. Yasuburou himself disregards tanuki laws and society and masquerades as human most of the time. Despite antagonistic relatives, the Ebisugawas, and the threat of being caught and cooked in the Friday Fellows' hot pot, the family and friends go about life in ways only a bunch of misfits could.

Originally a novel by Tomihiko Morimi published in 2007. A thirteen-episode anime adaptation was created by P. A. Works and aired in the summer of 2013.Production 

Second novel (from the planned trilogy) came out in 2015 and second anime season from the same staff aired in spring 2017.

(Character Page Needs Some Love.)

The Eccentric Family provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Benten perpetually has a mischievous smile plastered on her face and is friendly even as she tells Yasaburou she's looking forward to eating him in a tanuki hot pot one of these days.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Yaichirou tries to be this and mostly succeeds, but he notably cracks under pressure.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Compared to other depictions of tanuki in their animal forms. Kaisei explicitly calls Yasaburou ball-less in episode 5 of the anime.
  • Awful Truth: Kinkaku reveals to Yaichirou that Yajirou was the last one who saw their dad before getting captured by the Friday Fellows — they got drunk together and then Yajirou left him to his luck. Yaichirou doesn't take it well.
    • Later, the reveal that Soun Ebisugawa was the one to sell out Soichiro to the Friday Fellows
  • Beyond the Impossible: Yasaburou's dad shapeshifts into a mountain (no other tanuki can transform into anything bigger than a truck).
  • Bifauxnen: The Shimogamo mother often takes this form for playing pool and mingling with humans.
  • Can't Stand Them, Can't Live Without Them: Between the Shimogamo family and Akadama-sensei.
  • Cargo Envy: Let's just say Benten loves round things. Round things like Daruma dolls or tanuki transformed into Daruma dolls.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Two things make second appearances in the ending:
    • The folding fan is demonstrated in episode 3, and shows up in the aerial battle in the next episode: Yasaburou uses it to attack the Ebisugawa's flying battleship, but loses the fan afterward. In the last episode, Akadama-sensei uses it to obliterate both the council of tanuki and the Friday Fellows' meeting.
    • The flying "inner parlor" is also demonstrated in episode 3, used in the aeiral battle in the following episode, but crashes at the end. Near the end of the show, the Ebisugawa brothers try to launch Train!Yajirou and his brothers into a river; but it turns out they saved the wine-powered levitator from the inner parlor, so they simply float over the river (and toss the Ebisugawas into it).
    • The second season introduces the painting of hell which is brought to play to be a gateway to hell itself. It's what brought Soun to his end in the final episode.
  • Cherry Blossoms: Benten flies (for the first time) through the branches of a blossoming Sakura-tree not long after the start of her introductory flashback.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover makes you think that the girl next to Yasaburou is the female lead but she is actually one of Yasaburou's forms, Benten is the actual female lead.
  • *Crack!* "Oh, My Back!": Akadama-sensei suffered one in the Demon King Cedar incident and hasn't been able to fly ever since.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Souichirou Shimogamo, is well respected even outside tanuki social circles and was shown to be a loving parent.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: The sukiyaki dinner where Yasaburou provides the entertainment for the Friday Fellows has this vibe. But any tense conversation with Benten will come off as this.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Face Death with Dignity: The more we learn of the circumstances surrounding Souichirou Shimogamo's death the more dignified the old tanuki seems.
  • Fear of Thunder: Mamanuki.
  • Femme Fatale: Benten, she's unquestionably dangerous to Yasaburou, and they both acknowledge that their interactions are likely to be the end of him.
  • Gender Bender: Yasaburou spends a good deal of the first few episodes as a girl. He seems to like shapeshifting into female form, especially when visiting Akadama-sensei.
  • Glamour Failure: The youngest Shimogamo brother occasionally has his tail pop out when under stress. For tanuki in general, stress (or a loss of focus) can cause a complete reversion to their animal shapes, as when the council discovers that the Friday Fellows were next door, or Soichiro around Benten
    • The second series also shows that things linking to traumatic memories can also cause tanuki to revert, such as Tousen's fear of thunder, Yajiro reverting back to a frog when he sees his mother due to still feeling guilty over his role in their dad's death. Which makes Yasaburo's strange, as his is Kaisei.
  • Good Parents: Yasaburou's parents are good if not great people and generally well respected.
  • Hidden Depths: For pretty much everyone.
  • Hikikomori: Yajirou, the tanuki who became the frog in the well, has shades of this.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: Because they eat tanuki, though it's less common these days. Benten and the other Friday Fellows are among the few who still do.
  • Jerkass: Ginkaku and Kinkaku, and their dad, who seem to love nothing more than antagonizing the Shinogamo family.
  • Karma Houdini: Akadama kidnaps a human girl, which directly leads to her stealing his powers, turning evil as Benten and consequently causing most of the troubles in the series, including catching and eating Sōichirō. Not only that, but he refuses to condemn Benten for what she does for the longest time. After all of that you'd expect the tanuki community to be extremely wary of him at the very least, but strangely they still treat him with the utmost respect.
  • Kimono Fanservice: Benten provides plenty of this. Yasaburou transforms into her and takes the servicing a bit further, until she threatens to eat him.
  • Kissing Cousins: Yasaburou's aborted engagement with Kaisei was this, as their fathers are siblings, Yajirou's feelings towards Kaisei also qualify for the same reason.
  • Lima Syndrome: Akadama kidnapped Benten, and later grew to love her and gave her some of his most valued possessions
  • Let's Meet the Meat: Yasaburou's dad told one of the Friday Fellows he was mostly fine with being eaten, as he felt he'd lived a full life.
  • May–December Romance: Akadama-sensei and Benten, though it seems mostly one-sided on his side.
  • The Men in Black: Benten's tengu friends dress as such.
  • Morphic Resonance
  • Obliviously Evil: All of the Friday Fellows except Benten and possibly their leader Jurojin seems to be unaware that the tanuki they eat are sentient beings.
  • Official Couple: Yaichirou and Gyokuran confess to each other in episode 5 of the 2nd season, and later marry in the final episode.
    • Yasaburou and Kaisei reinstate their engagement in the final episode.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The Friday Fellows, each member goes by one of names of one of the Seven Lucky Gods.
  • Posthumous Character: Soichiro Shimagamo, the father who was eaten a few years ago.
  • Real-Place Background: A lot of effort has been spent to depict Kyoto as faithfully as possible.
  • Scenery Porn
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Benten has no problem skinny dipping in front of Yasaburou and Yashirouu.
  • Shout-Out: Yasaburou is fond of this. He fancied himself Nasu no Yoichi as he spitefully shot an arrow with love letter at a priceless fan and in realizing he really didn't get Benten's complicated feelings he fancied himself a frog on the bottom of a well, who knows nothing of the vast ocean.
  • Take That!: The series regularly makes small quips against blindly following tradition.
  • Tanuki: The titular family and about half of the characters are tanuki (Japanese raccoon dogs). Being capable of shapeshifting and living in modern-day Kyoto, they mainly take on human forms in order to disguise their true nature.
  • Tengu: The other half of the cast.
  • Theme Naming: The Shimogamo brothers have one going following a pattern of 矢(Ya/arrow)*the number son they are* 郎(rou/son).
    • Similarly, the Friday Fellows are each named after one of the Seven Gods of Fortune
  • The Trickster: Fits Yasaburou to a tee. Benten also applies, in that she is powerful in more ways than one and uses her power to her amusement by subtly whipping up storms.
  • Tsundere: Akadama-sensei for the Shimogamo family in general and Yasaburou in particular. Kaisei is one as well.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Yasaburou and Benten. It comes with him being mesmerized by her to but also justifiably afraid for his life whenever he's with her. And her generally being entertained by his presence but also saddened by the realization that she will undoubtedly consume and thus lose him.
  • Urban Fantasy: Kyoto.
  • The Voice / She Who Must Not Be Seen: Kaisei Ebisugawa, who doesn't like coming out in the open, so Yasaburou ends up having conversations with her as a disembodied voice while she's hiding under a bridge or in a drawer. The audience (although not Yasaburou) finally gets to see her in episode 9 of the anime. She lets herself be seen by Yashirou while helping him to escape from the Ebisugawa factory but deliberately hides from him any other time. He finally gets a far-off glance of her in the final end credits, but it's implied she's gone the second he heads toward her.
    • The second season reveals that Yasaburou cannot maintain his human form (or any transformation for that matter) and reverts into his tanuki form whenever Kaisei is in front of him.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: All tanuki have this power. Tengu can also also apparently make their wings disappear.
  • Wrong Context Magic: Tengu fly, tanuki shapeshift. Benten, originally an ordinary human, inexplicably learned tengu powers after receiving instruction from Akadama.
  • Youkai: Limited to tanuki and tengu, though, at least in Kyoto. Kitsune have been mentioned but as of yet remain unseen.
    • In the second season, Yasaburou finds himself in Hell and meets Oni.

Alternative Title(s): Uchouten Kazoku