Take a flight of fancy with this under-the-radar gem.
Annie (@annieothername) and Jeff (@jeffinitelyjeff) were kind enough to invite me onto their podcast Love It Or Weeb It to talk (and talk!) (and talk!!) about one of my all-time favorite anime, The Eccentric Family. Join us for a lively discussion of mythology, femme fatales, and adorable tanuki. No hot pots allowed.
You can listen to the episode or keep reading for the full transcript.
Transcript: Love it Or Weeb It, “The Eccentric Family”
DEE: Jeff, stop trying to eat the tanuki!
ANNIE: Hello and welcome to Love It or Weeb It, where we let you know if we love an anime enough to recommend it to everyone or if it’s just for the worst of the weebs. I’m Annie, and if I was a tanuki I would transform into a shirtless Sephiroth, specifically.
ANNIE: Without the jeans! Not the jeans. In his normal outfit.
JEFF: Okay, I’m Jeff, and if I were tanuki I would transform into a shirtless Sephiroth with jeans.
DEE: Well, I’m Dee, and if I was a tanuki I wouldn’t transform into anything quite that spicy. Sorry, guys! I would transform into luggage tags on a bag that was going someplace I wanted to visit so I could travel the world for free.
ANNIE: Wow, that’s a good one!
JEFF: Yeah, good answer.
ANNIE: We’re dumb.
DEE: I thought really hard about that!
ANNIE: We’re dumb!
DEE: [Laughs] Hey, it’s okay: you made somebody’s day by being shirtless Sephiroth when you made that transformation, so it all worked out.
ANNIE: That’s true.
JEFF: I briefly considered, like, should I be the sword instead so I can be held by shirtless Sephiroth? Then…
ANNIE: [feigning annoyance] No!
JEFF: Or should I be the jeans?
DEE: Extra spicy.
JEFF: So, yeah, if you haven’t guessed, we have a special guest this week. It’s Dee, a.k.a. Josei Next Door. Welcome to the show!
DEE: Hi, thanks for having me! I’m excited to be here.
JEFF: Yeah! So if you’re new to the podcast, each week we watch the first three episodes of a new anime and cast our votes to love it or weeb it. But today Annie is cashing in on her victory of the summer season to do a classic review of The Eccentric Family, both seasons of which are available subbed on Crunchyroll and VRV. But before we get into the meat (the tanuki meat?) of the episode—
DEE: No, never!
ANNIE: [crosstalk] Stop! Stop!
DEE: Have you learned nothing from this show? Don’t eat tanuki.
JEFF: [Chuckles] Before we get into the meat of the episode, we’re gonna do our general anime check-in. So, for me and Annie, we only have a week’s worth of stuff to catch up on. But Dee, have you been in recent times watching or reading anything in the realm of anime particularly notable you wanna talk about?
DEE: I mean, as we’re recording this, we’re in the middle of premiere season, so I have been completely taken over by premieres. But before then, it was just seasonal anime, wasn’t it? As far back as the eye can see! I’m just chained to the season! I was going to try to recommend a manga, but my brain is fuzzy right now with titles that I’ve been catching up on.
Oh, I know! Kageki Shoujo, I will mention as a recommendation. It is a manga that came out really recently from Seven Seas. It’s about these girls who are training to basically be Takarazuka-style performers—so, like musical theater. And it’s really good. Some content warnings for eating disorders and some assault stuff, but it’s delicately handled. But it was really, really good, and I guess they’re making an anime out of it sometime soon, so now is a great time to jump into this story.
JEFF: It looks really nice. I was a little confused because I was like, “Is this not Revue Starlight?” It’s like similar words but flipped around, so it’s not quite Revue Starlight.
DEE: Yeah, and it’s more of a character drama. It focuses on the two main girls, whose names escape me at the moment, but very much on becoming a performer and the classes they have to take and the kind of things they have to do in school, and the two of them getting to know each other and dealing with their past histories and why they’re in the program and… Yeah, I really liked it. It essentially is a prequel, and there’s a second series that I think Seven Seas is eventually going to publish as well. But I’m really excited for the upcoming anime of it, as well. So, it’s great!
JEFF: [crosstalk] Oh, cool. Speaking of the premiere season that you’re in the middle of, is there any one show that stands out to you, that you’re most excited about?
DEE: Probably Otherside Picnic was my favorite. It wasn’t a surprise. It’s the yuri about the two college girls who hunt cosmic horrors in another world.
ANNIE and JEFF: Ooh!
DEE: The first episode, I enjoyed quite a bit. And then I guess my big surprise was 2.43, which is the volleyball show. I thought it would kind of be a Haikyu knockoff, and it’s actually a really, really well-done character drama. And the two boys will not stop blushing at each other.
ANNIE: [Gasps] Sign me up!
DEE: Yeah! So, those are my two premiere picks after a single episode. So, you know, knowing premieres, something will disappoint me, but those were the two that stand out at this point.
JEFF: Nice. So, Annie, I assume you’re gonna disappoint me and have nothing to say?
ANNIE: Okay, I have something to say, but I don’t like that I’m saying it.
JEFF: Oh no.
ASHLEY: So, you know how I was reading that webtoon True Beauty and I really liked it, and it turned into a drama? Well, since the drama got popular, people have been talking about it and someone pointed out that the webtoon was originally fanfiction about a BTS member.
ASHLEY: And now I can never read it again! [Chuckles]
JEFF: Wait. Like, they gender-swapped?
ANNIE: No! True Beauty, one of the love interests…
ANNIE: … is based on Jin from BTS.
JEFF: Wait, so, it’s like what if a BTS guy fell in love with me?
ANNIE: That’s what it kind of feels like, yeah! So now I can’t read the webtoon anymore!
DEE: You can’t unsee that, huh?
ANNIE: I can’t unsee it, because someone did a side-by-side of all of Jin’s outfits and then the character Su-ho’s outfits, and I was like, “Dang it! This is just a copy of this man. I gotta go!”
JEFF: I mean, at least it’s not like… You don’t know if the main character is a self-insert, right?
ANNIE: Feels like a self-insert.
JEFF: Oh. Well, then maybe that’s a little awkward.
ANNIE: It feels a little self-inserty. And I was like, “Dang! Now I’m embarrassed.”
ANNIE: I did catch up just to make sure that that was the case. But yeah, I did catch up with that. I’m always caught up on True Beauty! [Chuckles]
JEFF: It turns out that the real true beauty was the BTS…
ANNIE: BTS fanfiction—
DEE: —that we made along the way?
JEFF: The only thing I’ve read or watched since we last talked was… I read all of Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare.
DEE: Yes, very good.
JEFF: Which I picked for a book club because I heard so much praise for it over the years. I did not realize that I’ve been to that town.
DEE: Oh, wow!
JEFF: I was like, “Oh, wait. This is very familiar. Why is it so familiar? Oh, wait.” I also feel especially stupid because I did the bike route that starts in that town. It’s called the Shimanami Kaido, and somehow I did not notice that that was in the name of the series, Shimanami Tasogare. [Chuckles]
DEE: Just never quite made the connection.
JEFF: Yeah! I’m just a dummy. But—
ANNIE: Also, we get it: you’ve been to Japan.
JEFF: I guess it does sound like humblebragging.
ANNIE: [sarcastic] Wow, remember when I was in that town doing a bike ride?
DEE: Jeff, don’t worry about it: I was planning to humblebrag about my trip to Kyoto later in this episode, so you’re good!
JEFF: [crosstalk] Ooh!
JEFF: But yeah, Our Dreams at Dusk is very, very, very good. I had one qualm with it, which… it’s very realistic aside from like one slash of magical realism that is, I think, a little too extreme, which might be a topic we get to this episode in general. But aside from that splash of magical realism I don’t know if I loved, the rest of the manga is very fantastic and is some well-needed queer representation in manga, so I would definitely recommend people check it out.
DEE: Yeah, I’d sign my name to that as well. It’s a really, really good series.
JEFF: Yeah. I really enjoyed the Chatty AF episode talking about it, with Dee on.
DEE: Aw. Thank you!
DEE: Yeah, that was a fun one to do.
JEFF: I’ll have a link to that in the show notes. People can check that out as well and listen to more thoughts about that series.
DEE: Heck yeah!
JEFF: All right, so, now let’s jump into the hot pot to get boiled and…
ANNIE: [crosstalk] Stop! [Chuckles]
DEE: Jeff, stop trying to eat the tanuki!
JEFF: No, I’m proposing we are the tanuki and we’re gonna get eaten.
ANNIE: I don’t wanna be eaten!
DEE: I don’t want to be a part of your vore fantasy.
JEFF: Oh no.
JEFF: Okay, so we’re talking about The Eccentric Family. Dee, as the guest, we are asking you to… as the guest to our Friday Fellows, um, we are—
DEE: That works.
ANNIE: [crosstalk, exasperated] Oh my God.
JEFF: —burdening you with the entertainment and… This connection is not working very well. But yeah, can you explain to listeners what this show is about?
DEE: Yeah, sure. So, The Eccentric Family takes place in a fantastical version of Kyoto, Japan, where humans and tanuki and tengu all kind of mingle together. And most of the humans don’t know that the tanuki and the tengu are in the town.
For folks who don’t know, tanuki are raccoon dogs, and folklore-wise, they tend to be known as shapeshifters and tricksters, usually benign, just like practical jokesters, but sometimes they can get a little nasty.
And then tengu are… It depends on what folklore you’re looking at, but they’re usually depicted as flying bird-like human creatures. Somewhat like tanuki, they can be tricksters. They tend to be a little bit more dangerous. Sometimes they have wind magic, and they’re known for being extremely proud and sometimes abducting people and teaching them magic.
So, the story takes place in a world that blends all those folklore elements together. But it mostly follows the Shimogamo family, which is a tanuki family of four sons and their mom. And the main character’s Yasaburo, the third son, who likes to hang out with tanuki—sorry—well, sometimes with the tanuki because he is a tanuki, but also likes to hang out with humans and tengu and cause mischief and get the groups to intermingle.
And without spoiling anything, it essentially follows him and his family shortly after the death of their father as they are coming to terms with that and discovering some details about his death, and then the story just goes from there into almost a daily living of how things go for them over the course of a couple of years.
Does that cover everything, do you guys think? Did I summarize it well enough?
ANNIE: Yeah! That’s good.
DEE: Okay, cool.
JEFF: And I think in terms of discussing the show, it’s a little bit hard to separate out non-spoiler discussion from plot-relevant spoiler thoughts because everything kind of interweaves with each other, but I wanted to have us go around and basically give our impressions of the show and a brief pitch for, if we really loved it, why people should go check it out if they haven’t, and then we’re going to pull the spoiler lever and just go full in on everything.
JEFF: Annie, this was your pick.
ANNIE: This was my pick! Okay, so this is one of my favorite shows of all time. I just find it so pleasant and kind of like slice-of-life but with that little bit of fun magic in it, like this could be real but it’s not. But it could be.
ANNIE: I don’t know. It’s just a lot of fun and I thought, “Yasaburo’s attitude of ‘Hey, I’m just kind of doing this because of my…’” (what did he call it?) idiot blood or fool’s blood or whatever? And he’s just doing what he wants to do, and I kind of love that energy! And I just like watching everybody have a good time and have bad times. And Benten’s hot, so…
ANNIE: That’s my pitch for this show.
JEFF: All right. Dee, I was interested in having you on because when I was looking through my Twitter timeline of people that have talked about the show, I’d seen that you wrote really enthusiastic articles for Crunchyroll about it and seem to really love it. So I decided to have you on. What are your thoughts on the show?
DEE: I absolutely adore it. Yeah, it’s top ten, possibly top five. I haven’t put a list together in a while, so I’m not sure where it would actually sit on there. But yeah, it’s one of my favorite anime ever.
Kind of like Annie was saying, the sort of fantasy slice-of-life, the way it… I saw somebody one time describe it as a weird show that doesn’t act like it’s weird. I mean, there’s transformations and people flying around and there’s ships in the sky and floating teahouses. And you walk through a door and suddenly are at the ocean, basically. And it’s very much got that matter-of-fact quality that you find in a lot of older folklore, where the magic doesn’t need an explanation; it just exists. It is part of this world. And I think that was what really kind of drew me into it: beautiful art and then that whole tone that the show had.
And then as you go, it really starts to develop the characters and the family dynamic with the Shimogamo brothers and their mom that I think is really, really well done and provides a very human element to a story that could’ve just been a lot of spectacle. And I think that’s what gives it a lot of its staying power: there are multiple moments in this series where I will tear up or laugh out loud and get really invested in these delightful furballs. So, I think it’s kind of the full package.
Yeah, I’ve written an article about it. When I traveled to Kyoto, I made a point of going to some of the different temples and things that are in the show because I wanted to see them. I am sitting here with a Yajiro plushie. So, I adore this show and I recommend it to everybody I can.
JEFF: Is that an official plushie or was it commissioned?
DEE: Yeah, so, the city of Kyoto got really excited about Eccentric Family, so when we went, there was still… It was like a year later after the second season had aired, but you could still find… they did special events around the city and had little character prop-ups and stuff. And the Shimogamo Shrine, and then there were a few other places where, in their gift shop, they’d even have a few little Eccentric Family items.
DEE: So I ended up getting this cute little drawstring bag that has character outlines on it. It’s an adorable little bag. And then at the Animate in Kyoto, they still had some merch, so, keychains and plushies and stuff. And I kick myself to this day: I had the opportunity to get all four Shimogamo brothers as plushies, and I only got Yajiro the frog because I was worried about fitting them all in my suitcase. And I totally could have and I totally should have! But I’ve got Yajiro with me today.
ANNIE: I love him.
JEFF: Nice. Well, okay, not to be a downer…
ANNIE: [Gasps] Jeff, you need to leave!
JEFF: Okay, so—
ANNIE: Jeff, if it’s not glowing praise I want you to hang up this call.
JEFF: Okay, so I’m the only one that watched it for the first time for this podcast, and I had heard so much praise about it over the years… I guess my memory is failing because I thought recently there was a scare of it disappearing from Crunchyroll and then being added back a couple months later. But apparently that was way back in 2016, before the second season aired, and my memory is fading. Things that I thought were recent were a while ago. But yeah, I remember when there was that scare, I was like, “Oh, man, I should go watch it because everyone loves that show,” and I just never got around to it, so I was happy when Annie forced me to watch it, because I was like, “Oh, I’ve been meaning to watch it for a while.”
And in terms of making our “Love It or Weeb It” verdict, I am on the fence because I did not universally love it. I like a lot of it, but I feel like there was a lot that just didn’t vibe with me. I think a lot of the… There are lots of things that I can appreciate on paper that none of the actual emotional impact watching felt a little… It just didn’t give me the biggest impact, especially, like I think Dee was saying, about treating these fantastical things as very normal and not worth commenting on. I see how that fits into their world, but it just made a lot of times where I was just confused by everyone’s behavior and people were acting very illogical or unreasonable in ways I just couldn’t really comprehend what the thought processes were.
I think it comes down to: I love everything about the families. Everything that is in the show about family relationships, that is centered around the Shimogamo family and the brothers and especially the brothers’ grief for their recently-passed-away father, all of that was fantastic. I even liked all the stuff with the rival Ebisugawa family. I thought that was all fantastic. Everything Benten and most things tengu, I just did not like at all and I just found very hard to relate to.
And yeah, there’s a lot… The first episode in particular I felt was the most… After episode 1, I was like, “I don’t think I like this show at all.” And then episode 2 and onwards, I was like, “I do like this show. I just don’t like the fact that episode 1 focused on mainly the Akadama and Benten stuff, which I found to be the weakest part of the show—or not the weakest part of the show but the part I could relate to the least and was just the most wrapped in mystery.”
So, I have mixed feelings. But I think it’s still a really fun show, and I think it’s basically like, if someone’s interested in Japanese folklore, 100% they should go watch it and try it out. And if someone has no knowledge of Japanese folklore and isn’t really interested in learning about Japanese folklore, they might have a harder time. But I think if you have any inclination towards folklore, you’d really appreciate this show.
ANNIE: So you didn’t like Benten at all? That’s all I’m taking away from this.
JEFF: I mean, I could tell while I was watching, “I bet Annie loves this character.”
ANNIE: Yes, I do!
JEFF: I… There’s a lot that I do not like about how this show handles its female characters, and I feel like Benten is, in some ways, the epitome of it. And some of it is grounded in the actual folklore details, like about how tengu are known to kidnap children and train them in Noh. But there’s a lot of huge gaps in the show that I find very uncomfortable, and Benten is at the center of a lot of them.
ANNIE: But I love her. I want to say so many things, but I can’t spoil things yet, I guess. Ah!
JEFF: Okay, well, that’s kind of my thoughts on being very mixed about the show.
DEE: I’m kind of with Annie. I’m like… how much do I want to say at this point? I see where you’re coming from. I do think that this is one where if you’re not interested in folklore in general and if you’re not willing to kind of let yourself sink into that sort of folkloric logic, if that makes sense…
Because I think there are frequently times in this show where things that would bother me if the characters were humans don’t bother me because I’m like, “Well, yeah, I mean, they’re the raccoon dogs. Of course that’s the way they see the world.” And I appreciate series that kind of force you to look at things a little bit sideways, and I think Eccentric Family does that with its characters sometimes in ways that are really interesting to me.
I’m also not… I think… So, supposedly, The Eccentric Family was going to be a three-novel… It was supposed to be a trilogy. And the third novel hasn’t come out yet, and the anime has adaptations of the first two. So, as much as I adore this show, there is this tiny part of me that is aware that how the show wraps will significantly impact a lot of things.
Because I think Benten is fascinating. I think she exists in this space between being a really well-written, fleshed-out character and being this kind of stereotypical mysterious woman who you can never understand. And I keep feeling like it’s right on the edge of really digging into that, and so the way the story wraps her arc up will have a lot of impact on how I feel about the series as a whole.
So, I totally get your discomfort there. I also think I would argue that I think the show wants us to find that a bit discomforting. I think Akadama is supposed to not be particularly likable. And I think we’re not supposed to quite know what to think of Benten because Yasaburo is not quite sure what to think of her either. So I think some of that is baked into the story, but I can also understand how it could keep you at arm’s length or not necessarily be enjoyable to watch. So, I get that.
ANNIE: Yeah. I get that. Well, because I like Benten’s story a lot, not just because of, like, wow, she’s gorgeous, but [chuckles] I felt, without revealing anything too much, that a lot of it’s like this is her story secretly and we’re watching how she’s recovering or taking control of her life and the world around her.
DEE: Yeah, I agree with that.
ANNIE: And she’s my main character for this. And so, I do want it to wrap up differently, but watching what she goes throughout these seasons, I was just so invested in it and to her!
DEE: I agree. I do kind of feel like she’s the secret protagonist, which, again, is why there’s this part of me that’s like, “I just need to know how it wraps up, Morimi! How are you going to do this?”
ANNIE: Tell us! [Chuckles]
JEFF: Yeah, I’ve heard (I don’t know how official this was or if it was a rumor or if it was the author’s stated goal) that the third book was… that their idea was for it to be titled The Great Tengu War, so it seems like it would center on Benten even more, probably, based on that.
DEE: Mm-hm. Well, I mean, the second season to me very much feels like a bridge to the third book and the setup for what’s going on with Benten and the Nidaime—which, I think saying that isn’t… I don’t think that’s a spoiler because nobody who’s listening to this will know who the Nidaime is. [Chuckles]
JEFF: That is something that I’ve heard. Going into it, I didn’t really know what people thought about season 1 versus season 2 and I was really excited. I thought season 2 was going to be better in every way. And listening to some podcasts afterwards, it seems like people are a lot more mixed on season 2 than season 1.
DEE: Mm-hm. Yeah.
JEFF: And I definitely see that now, and I think I kind of agree that I think I enjoyed season 1 more. But also, season 2 is based on the second book, which is titled The Nidaime Returns. And after having watched season 2… we can get into this more when we get to spoilers, but I’m like, I don’t see the point of the Nidaime returning. So it does kind of feel like: why was there a second book/season? Which probably will make sense once there’s a third. But for now, I’m kinda like, “Hm.”
DEE: I think it kind of ties into what Annie was talking about, as Benten being the secret protagonist, and the Nidaime returning is very much a challenge to Benten’s power. Because in the first season, she is the most powerful character and owns it in a lot of ways, and so season 2 is her having to deal with somebody else being as strong or stronger than she is.
And yeah, I think having that in the background… And again, it’s all told through Yasaburo’s perspective, so there’s a lot of gray areas, the biggest one for me being: was Benten excited to be abducted by tengu or did she just kind of go along with it because she had no choice? So, yeah.
JEFF: See, that to me feels like the bit of… I’m very happy to throw up my hands and let the show guide me when people are acting irrationally, if that irrationality is very founded in folklore. So, tengu kidnapping children and raising them or teaching them or whatever, once I heard that that was a fundamental piece of tengu lore, then I was like, “okay, I take what’s happening in the show a lot less literally and more as within the folklore space of the show.”
But the stuff that I find the most frustrating in the show, aside from Benten, is the whole Friday Fellows/Friday Club/Thursday Club, all of that stuff, and about the eating of tanuki in hot pots. Which, I’ve looked into that a decent amount; it seems like that’s not really based in folklore; that’s based more in economics and classism of whether people had to eat tanuki to survive or not, and it’s not really about… It doesn’t seem like the Friday Fellows are a concept that comes from folklore. It seems like it’s just a weird quirk of the show, and that’s where I’m like, “Hm. Okay, weird.” But maybe we should get into spoilers to talk about that in more detail.
ANNIE: Yes. Whoo!
DEE: Yeah, I think that’s a good idea.
JEFF: Okay, I’m pulling the lever. It’s all spoilers from here on out.
ANNIE: Yeah, go away if you haven’t watched it/don’t want to be spoiled!
ANNIE: Okay, where do we start?
DEE: Annie, you were sitting on a lot that you wanted to say, so if you want to kick us off, I’d say go for it.
ANNIE: Okay. I’m obsessed with Benten. She’s my icon. She’s doing whatever she wants to do, and I feel like she’s really taking back control of her life and herself because she was literally abducted by this gross old man who’s a tengu.
And for me, watching her be powerful and not talk to him and kind of mess around with his emotions was her taking revenge and just flexing her power now, and she’s like, “Yeah, I’m powerful. I’m a tengu, basically. If this is what happened to me and my life was taken over by this being, I’m gonna own it and I’m gonna be stronger than he ever was.” And I was like, “Ugh, I love this!” I love this story for her. And, I don’t know, it felt like her rebelling against her, I guess, trauma from being kidnapped! And she did feel bad, I felt, about eating their dad.
DEE: Yeah, she definitely did.
ANNIE: She cried a little. But I think she was just trying to, well, one, fit in with the Friday Fellows, the humans, because she’s technically human. So she’s trying to find that balance between being in the human world and this magical world. And every minute of it, I was waiting for her! [Chuckles]
JEFF: I don’t think she was sad enough. That’s why I find it frustrating. [Chuckles]
DEE: I think… So, one thing, Jeff, and I guess this is directed specifically at you, sorry…
DEE: One great thing about Eccentric Family is every time I watch it, I pick up on other things and I enjoy it more. And I’ve seen it several times now, and I’m always surprised that the next time I watch it I’m like, “I like it even more than I did the last time! Wow!” And it is because you’ll pick up on little nuggets dropped or you’ll pay… There’s a lot in the art that is this kind of subtext of the characters that you won’t necessarily pick up the first time you’re watching it because, you know, you’re watching it to see what happens next.
And Benten is very quietly sad around Yasaburo a lot, and it kind of plays into this… kind of what Annie was saying: I do think that a lot of Benten’s arc is about her trying to kind of take back and regain power over people who have wielded power over her for so long.
But at the same time, there are costs that she had to pay to get to that position, and there are moments where… One of my favorite scenes is right after the… (it’s also one of my favorite episodes of anime, period) is after Yasaburo entertains the Friday Fellows in the first season and they go on that rooftop walk, him and Benten and Yodagawa. And Benten throughout that, it feels like she’s always kind of trying to apologize to him but doesn’t know how to do it and eventually sort of just disappears sadly into the autumn leaves.
And I think that push and pull with her character is really fascinating as somebody who has kind of become isolated by the sheer amount of power she wields and what she had to do to get to that position. Which is also why I think season 2 is really interesting because I think it sets us up with the possibility of her possibly finding somebody who’s on equal footing with her in the Nidaime, and so where that situation goes in the third book to me will be really, really interesting to see.
ANNIE: Yeah, I feel like that’s why she likes Yasaburo so much, is because he’s the only one who’s not terrified of her and he still messes with her and hangs out with her, and she’s like, “That’s why you’re my favorite.”
DEE: Well, and they’re both kind of tricksters, right? Both of them are very much into “Oh, this might be interesting” or “Oh, this might be fun. Let’s just do it and see what happens.” And so, I think they’re kind of cut from the same cloth in that respect.
JEFF: I guess I just… Hm. The stuff that I find awkward about Yasaburo and Benten’s relationship is that I guess it felt like this threat of getting eaten in a hot pot was brought up so much, but it never felt like it made sense to me the way they were acting about it.
As I was thinking about why it felt frustrating, I kept thinking about Beastars, another show where there is a natural predator-and-prey dynamic, but I never felt that kind of confusion watching Beastars because it felt like the characters were almost the other extreme where it was like, “You are my natural predator. I don’t even want to be around you. I’m scared to be around you,” and they’re allowed to be like, “No, we’re in school. It’s normal. I’m not going to eat you.”
And this, instead, felt like lots of characters bringing up “Benten could eat us! Benten could eat us!” and Yasaburo [being] like, “I’m fine, though.” And it’s like, but why are you so overly confident? Why are you so chill about this when your dad just died by her hands?
ANNIE: Well, they were friends! They were both students under, what’s his name, Akadama.
JEFF: Yeah… And… Actually, looping back to a point you made, Dee, about appreciating things more on rewatch, I got a taste of that because I disliked episode 1 so much and was so confused by things that were going on, that once I finished I went back and didn’t watch the whole episode but I watched a decent part of it, and I was able to pick up on a lot more things that I did not understand and there was a lot more nuance and subtle details that I appreciated a lot more. So, I definitely think that if I did go back and rewatch it, I would appreciate the nuance and not be so caught up on the bigger plot things, that I would maybe notice the smaller character details.
DEE: Yeah. Yasaburo’s definitely a character I appreciate more and more every time I rewatch the show. There’s a definite discomfort around Benten, especially in that first season, because… And he is kind of always digging at her about the hot pot stuff and “Oh, but you’re actually a terrible human. You can call yourself a tengu all you like, but…”
So, their relationship is very tense, but I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that he was madly in love with her and then this terrible thing happened to his dad that she was a part of, and he doesn’t know how to reconcile those two feelings. [Chuckles]
ANNIE: Mm-hm. Ugh, it’s so good.
JEFF: Well, okay, so I was alluding to it before, but I find that I would be a lot more accepting of the way that everyone was acting about the hot pot death if the Friday Fellows or Friday Club were a thing rooted in a folklore and them eating tanuki was a thing that was a base fact about folklore, but it seems like it’s a base fact of this world and I never understood why. It felt like it was like this is a tradition that can never be changed up until the end of season 1 where Yodagawa betrays them and says that he is gonna change it.
ANNIE: Yeah. Well, it’s a fictional version of Japan, because…
JEFF: [feigning surprise] What?
ANNIE: Because tengus don’t actually exist. So it’s just a world where that’s the tradition.
JEFF: I guess… [Sighs]
ANNIE: You gotta get rid of this world in your mind, Jeff. You gotta get emerged [sic] in this fictional version of Japan, because I can definitely see there’s, like, a weird secret society that’s like, “We have to eat this one animal every year on the same day.” That probably exists. I don’t even know. But…
JEFF: So, apparently, eating tanuki is a thing that… I think they mention this in the show, that tanuki are known for eating lots of bad ingredients. They’re known for tasting bad because they eat such bad stuff, so that’s why it’s generally like you would never choose to eat tanuki, so it was apparently a thing historically you’d only do if you were very poor, you had no other choices. And so, it’s become a weird thing that no one would choose to do now when people aren’t as limited for food sources. And so it’s just weird that there’s this secret society, which I also don’t… I never understood the secret society.
ANNIE: They’re just a weird, old secret society.
JEFF: It never felt grounded.
ANNIE: It doesn’t need to be grounded, Jeff. It’s a mysterious—
JEFF: [seeking to clarify] No, no, no, no, no…
DEE: Jeff, they’re just the rich, old, powerful dudes of the city who have been getting together for centuries and continue to do so. And also, honestly, I kinda love the idea that this meal that used to be only something that you would eat when you were destitute and starving has now become a delicacy in the modern world because nobody else does it, because that’s such a thing old rich people would do! [Chuckles]
And I mean, I think the other thing to keep in mind with Eccentric Family and the world they inhabit is most of the humans have no idea that tanuki are sentient creatures. They’re just raccoon dogs to them. They’re not aware of the mythological world around them.
Some of them are. Especially in season 2, we start to get a feel for the people who know what’s going on below the surface. I think the fact that Jurojin leads the Friday Fellows and is very deeply steeped in the magic-and-wizardry side of Kyoto, I feel like that probably has something to do with the fact that they’re doing the tanuki hot pots, because I think Jurojin sucks.
DEE: But, again, I feel like they’re setting him up to be a main antagonist maybe in the next book, and so it’s hard to… Some of the things in this show are really hard to talk about because of the unfinished nature of the source material.
JEFF: I guess I just feel like Yodagawa-sensei epitomizes for me what I find so weird about how they treat the sentience of the tanuki, because before he met Soichiro and talked with Soichiro, it seems like he, I assumed, thought tanuki were not sentient. And then he talks to Soichiro, and it seems like that should be a mind-shattering reveal.
DEE: He says afterwards, though, that he assumes he fell asleep and had a dream.
JEFF: [realizing] Oh.
DEE: [crosstalk] When he tells Yasaburo about it, he’s like, “I had such a strange dream about this tanuki spirit talking to me about how it didn’t mind us eating it because it had lived this full life.” And then at the end of every season, Yasaburo catches up with him and he’s like, “I don’t know how to explain what happened the night of Friday Fellows! What a weird night!”
JEFF: I guess I was just confused, then, because then there was also the episode where Benten basically drags Yasaburo to the Friday Fellows and makes him perform as entertainment. And I could have sworn that episode he explains that he can transform because he’s a tanuki to Yodagawa.
DEE: At the club meeting, they say something like, “Oh, man! You’re just like a tanuki with your transformation art,” and he’s like, “Ha-ha-ha, yeah, I’m totally a tanuki.” But again, you have to remember that the humans in this world… I mean, it’s like if you met somebody who was a really good magician, you’re like, “Man, it’s like you’re a real wizard!” and they were like, “Yep! I’m a wizard.” You would just assume they were kidding.
JEFF: Yeah. [Chuckles]
DEE: But they actually are a wizard! Surprise!
JEFF: Okay. So that definitely colored my interpretation of all the scenes with Yodagawa later on, especially when he was on the… I think it was in that same episode or after the meeting, when he’s on the roof with…
DEE: Yeah, and they’re having the philosophical conversation about consuming meat, basically? Yeah.
JEFF: I just found that that philosophical conversation was very interesting, but also colored by my interpretation that he was at the end of the day justifying killing sentient beings. I was just like, “This is an interesting idea but also complete BS because he’s talking about killing sentient beings.”
DEE: Yeah. But no, he still thinks that tanuki aren’t sentient.
JEFF: Okay, so I guess even by the end of season 2, he still doesn’t think they’re sentient.
DEE: No. Yodagawa has not put those pieces… The sweet idiot, who I love very much, has not put those pieces together. But, by God, he’s gonna rescue every tanuki in Kyoto if he can!
JEFF: Okay, so that changes my interpretation a lot.
ANNIE: He is a sweetie. He’s dumb but he’s a sweetie.
JEFF: I did not like, though… This is only a tiny part of the series, so maybe I’m reading too much into it, but when he gets… not fired but he gets kicked out of teaching, I think, from his university because he is quote-unquote “framed for sexual harassment”?
DEE: Yeah, I didn’t care for that.
ANNIE: Oh, yeah. Didn’t like that one bit. There’s a lot of things I didn’t like.
JEFF: [Gasps] Annie, I heard that if you aren’t glowingly positive about everything about the show, then you’re gonna get kicked off the call.
ANNIE: [crosstalk] No, your overall interpretation has to be glowingly positive, but you can nitpick at things. Like, Jeff, you sent me a screenshot of the first episode…
JEFF: Oh yeah! [Chuckles]
ANNIE: And I was like, “Yeah, I wouldn’t like that either if I didn’t already know the rest of it was good!” It was when Yasaburo’s transformed into a girl and he goes and visits the professor, like “Won’t this cheer you up? I’m a schoolgirl!” And I was like, “Ugh!”
ANNIE: “Let’s go past it. Let’s go past it.” [Chuckles]
JEFF: Yeah, that was another angle of the first episode that I really did not like, and the fact that it’s never really brought up again, him transforming into that schoolgirl look, made me wonder if it was an anime-original thing to frame the world in a little side story kind of thing.
DEE: Yeah, I’m obviously also not fond of the series starting off that way. Though I do like that it kind of sets up the fact that tanuki are pretty chill about gender presentation, because then his mom walks around as a prince, which is so great!
ANNIE: [crosstalk] Oh, I love her!
DEE: So, that was the one thing I didn’t like about it. But yeah, no, Akadama is an old creep, and I, 90% of the time, do not like him. He’s very much an old tengu, I think, in a lot of ways.
JEFF: I think it’d be more accepting of his old tengu ways if the characters hated on him more for it. I feel like everyone’s kind of accepting of it.
DEE: Yeah. I do agree. I think they… Well, on the one hand, there was, I think, for a long time, the fear that he would trash their homes because he was this all-powerful tengu. And now I think Yasaburo just pities him, honestly. We know there was some incident that he and Benten did to trick him, and it ended up in blowing out his back and not being able to fly anymore.
And so, we definitely start the story with Akadama at his lowest— I think we start the story with most of the characters at their lowest point and then kind of go from there. So, he gets a little better in season 2. He’s kind of nice to the Shimogamo family in season 2. But it’s hard to forget the fact that he starts the show as an old creep.
JEFF: I think Yasaburo gets to a lower point in season 2 when he goes to Hell, but…
DEE: [Laughs] Quite literally a lower point. But, oh, he was kind of having fun, though. He got to transform into an oni and watch some wrestling, so it all worked out.
JEFF: So, is that supposed to be… Do we think that’s literally Hell and the painting was a portal to Literal Hell, or was it like a world within the painting?
ANNIE: I thought it was a portal to Literal Hell, but I might be wrong.
DEE: Yeah, I’m pretty sure it is a portal to Literal Hell. Well, the Hell Screen is… Oh, God, I’m looking this up as we’re doing this, so you might need to cut some information.
No, so, the Hell Screen is a reference to an Akutagawa story about an artist who gets commissioned to paint the painting of Hell that we see in the picture. And I can’t remember within the story itself if there’s anything about the screen being a literal portal to Hell or not, but I do know that it’s kind of toying with that concept.
But yeah, I mean, when the demon arms come out at the end and drag Soun and Tenmaya down to Hell, I’m pretty sure they’re going to Literal Hell, where they honestly belong at this point in the story.
JEFF: Yeah, when season 2 started and it was like, okay, it’s gonna be introducing all these new characters, these new family members, and then Tenmaya, I was like, “I’m so intrigued to see how Tenmaya fits into things,” and by the end I was like, “No, get him away. I don’t want to see him at all.”
ANNIE: Go to hell, Tenmaya.
DEE: [Chuckles] Exactly.
ANNIE: Okay, also, wasn’t everyone so cute, Jeff? Don’t you just love everybody?
JEFF: Okay, the tanuki… I wish they were in tanuki form more, because they are very cute.
DEE: They’re adorable as tanuki.
ANNIE: I love them all! Who’s your favorite of the brothers?
JEFF: In tanuki form or in general as characters?
ANNIE: Oh, let’s go with tanuki form.
JEFF: I don’t really remember the differences in their tanuki forms.
ANNIE: Wow! Okay, fine. In general, then! Why would you ask?
JEFF: Actually, no, I think Yaichiro actually, because he still has his absurd anime hair but as a tanuki.
ANNIE: [crosstalk] His hairstyle, yeah!
JEFF: It’s so cute.
DEE: He does! That is adorable.
ANNIE: In both forms? As tanuki and overall, Yaichiro is your favorite?
JEFF: Hm, I think as an overall character I liked Yajiro the best, because I really like his position as a frog in a well. First of all, I really like the flavor text of that, just the… So, apparently it’s based on a saying of… I think the saying is like “A frog in a well can’t see the ocean in front of him” or something?
DEE: It’s “A frog in the well knows nothing of the sea.” So it’s the idea that you’re limited by your surroundings and you don’t know what you don’t know, basically.
JEFF: Mm-hm. So, I just love the flavor of everyone referring to him, “Oh, he’s just a frog in a well,” and that’s a thing in this world that’s like “Oh, yeah. A frog in a well. Obviously, a frog in a well.” But I just felt like it was such an interesting… not quite arc, but basically his self-exile into the well because of his guilt over… he thought that he let his father die.
DEE: [sad] I know.
JEFF: That felt really resonant. And then just being stuck as a frog and having to struggle with what he can or can’t do because he’s stuck as a frog. Like the moment when Yashiro pours the alcohol down the well and he transforms into the train, just directly from frog to train inside of…
DEE: I love the idea that frog is now his base form because he was a frog for so long, so he actually has to focus on becoming a tanuki. And yeah, it ends up being kind of a nice little metaphor for grief and depression. You know, it’s a gradual process, he needs some medicine to help with it along the way, he’s slowly able to start seeing his family again, and then he decides to go off and see the world.
Yeah, I really like Yajiro’s story as well. He’s probably, lowkey, my favorite, although I definitely vibe hard with Yashiro’s terrible, terrible anxiety about wanting to make the family proud!
DEE: He’s such a high-strung mess.
ANNIE: I love all of them! They were all so good. And when they were in the floating teahouse and everyone else is like, “It’s war!” and he’s like, “Guys! Please! We can’t do this!” and then his mom’s like, “We’re doing it, son,” and I was like…
ANNIE: I was like, “I love him.” I think I would have been him in that situation, like “Guys, we can’t shoot things at someone else!” Like, crying and everyone’s loading up the cannon.
JEFF: I’m a little bummed that Yajiro… I thought when he got on the train and left, it was so sad and resonant with me. I was kind of bummed that it kind of was ultimately for the plot convenience of looping back around and finding the real Kureiichiro. I kind of wish that he actually just stayed away, but maybe he’s gonna keep traveling and stuff, so…
DEE: Yeah, I get the sense he… Well, he said he wanted to go back to Shikoku, so I get the sense he’s gonna go on another journey at some point. So, hopefully the frog in the well will get to see more of the sea as he goes forward. He’s adorable.
How did you guys feel about…? Since we’re talking about all the good tanuki, how do you like the tanuki girls, Gyokuran and Kaisei? Jeff, I know you said you had some issues with how the show treats its female characters, but I love both of them. How about you guys?
JEFF: Oh, yeah, I think both of them are fantastic.
ANNIE: Kaisei, I adored from the get-go. It was also very relatable because I have brothers, too, and she was just throwing things at them and she’s like, “My idiot brothers!” and then Yasaburo would be like, “Yeah, they suck.” She’s like, “How dare you?”
DEE: [Laughs] “Only I get to say that!”
ANNIE: “How dare you call my brothers…?” I was like, “Wow, that’s mood.”
ANNIE: Absolutely in love with her. And, ah, I did— Okay, so I cried a lot watching this show, too, even on the rewatch, when she is sad that when Yasaburo sees her, he can’t hold his transformation. I was crying because she went through all this effort this whole time. That was all for him. I was like, “Ah, she’s too good! She’s too good for him, honestly.”
JEFF: I hadn’t thought of it that way. Hm. I thought it was really cute the whole time how she… it’s kind of perfect tsundere attitude, following him along but never letting him see her.
ANNIE: Letting him know she’s there? Yeah.
DEE: And I remember in season 1 feeling like, oh, Kaisei’s kind of a tsundere and it’s gonna turn out that the reason she… she’s just too shy to see him, is kind of the way everybody plays it off. And then in season 2, you find out that she was doing it to kind of keep him safe because if his transformation exploded in the middle of the street, that would be a huge problem.
So, yeah, I like… Morimi does— The author of the stories, the way he writes women is interesting? I’m not gonna say it’s—
ANNIE: Yeah, good word. [Chuckles]
DEE: I don’t want to say “good,” because I think there’s definitely some stuff you could criticize in some of his other works. So, he did Tatami Galaxy and The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl and Penguin Highway. And I think he’s kind of up and down. But I do think that he sometimes tries to play with the archetypes and take them in some interesting directions.
And so, I like the way Kaisei ends up being sort of the unsung hero of these first two books—first two seasons, since we’re talking about the anime—in terms of how she’s kind of constantly in the background helping to make sure that things go well. Yeah, I think she’s a really fun character.
And I like that by the end of season 2, she and Yasaburo have both kind of acknowledged that they are both very stubborn, headstrong trickster types, but they figured out ways to work together and they kind of like that about each other. So, by the end of season 2, I’m kind of into their relationship. I think they’ll match up well, going forward.
JEFF: I was sold on their relationship as soon as they had the onsen scene where they were just talking over the wall and she was throwing stuff at him, and I was like…
DEE: Chucking fruit at him.
JEFF: Yeah. I was like, oh no, they’re kind of perfect. Oh no!
DEE: They kind of are. I think Yasaburo does sort of need somebody who’s willing to go on adventures but will also call him out on his crap. And so, I think Kaisei’s kind of perfect in that regard. And yeah, she’s a very fun character.
JEFF: Yeah, my thing about female characters like Kaisei, Tousen, Gyokuran… I like all of them—and Benten—
ANNIE: Thank you.
JEFF: —but what I don’t like is how normalized the ogling of them by men and especially older men.
ANNIE: God, men are disgusting. We should… [Chuckles]
JEFF: All of the… There’s so many… There’s Kaisei being… [Sighs] I guess when I’m saying I love Yajiro, I forgot that one of his whole predicaments is that he has a crush on Kaisei and that’s why he wants to leave, and I do not like that at all. And I also don’t like how once he goes to Shikoku and he gets a love interest there that’s also another young child.
DEE: Well, I don’t think they’re that… So, here’s the problem with the age thing: I have no idea how old any of these tanuki are, because they’re tanuki! They’re raccoon dogs! So, I’ve decided to just… Like, I agree, in human form she looks very young. In tanuki form she’s not small like Yashiro is; she looks like a full-grown tanuki. So, I have decided to just assume that that is just the form she likes to take, is a short girl.
But no, I get what you’re saying about some age-gap issues, but I don’t know how to approach it because, again, they’re tanuki. I don’t know what to do with that.
ANNIE: I think a lot of it’s that whole… It’s a similar issue to the anime that’s like a little girl who talks like a little girl, looks like a little girl, but “I’m a thousand years old actually!” and it’s kind of a similar aesthetic. But I don’t know!
Also, now that I looked at who the writer is and you mentioned The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl, which… Okay, everyone hates this, but I hated that. [Chuckles]
ANNIE: I hated it because… that guy who was obsessed with her the whole time, she ends up going to him in the end and taking care of him because he’s sick, and I hated that and I never wanted to see that again. And also, the men in that were gross! And I’m like, oh, it does make sense that the men in this are gross because…
DEE: So, I also had some… We probably shouldn’t spend too much time talking about Morimi’s other works because this is not a, you know, podcast for those other shows.
DEE: Sorry. Sorry!
ANNIE: No, it’s fine!
DEE: I brought it up, so that’s on me.
ANNIE: No. Tangents are fine.
DEE: The one thing I do kind of like about both The Tatami Galaxy and The Night Is Short, because they kind of exist in the same universe, is they’re both kind of stories about these guys who put these women on pedestals and become kind of obsessed with them, and at the end of the day, the narrative tells them, “Stop doing that. She’s a person. Just ask her on a date if you like her.” And so, I do kind of appreciate that in some ways I think Morimi’s work kind of tries to break down that idea of “the unattainable mysterious lady,” but I think he leans into a lot of stuff I don’t care for along the way sometimes.
Eccentric Family is by far my favorite of his works that have been adapted into anime because I think it takes a slightly different approach than his other stories do. But yeah, it makes his female characters both interesting and kind of frustrating because a lot of the time they end up just sort of being vehicles for the guy’s growth, which is unfortunate because they’re all really cool ladies along the way!
JEFF: Yeah. All of these characters, I was kind of sad to think about… I was thinking about whether they interact with each other. And I was like, “Wait, no, kind of,” because Kaisei kind of only exists for Yasaburo’s story. Gyokuran kind of only exists for Yaichiro’s story. Tousen, I guess, interacts with lots of people, but they all do kind of feel like they’re in these little boxes, which is sad.
DEE: Yeah. There’s some implication… Just based on some of the things that Gyokuran says, there’s implication that Gyokuran and Kaisei know each other outside of their relationship to the Shimogamo boys and get along well, but we never see it. So, I agree with you that I think more scenes with the girls just hanging out would be really cool, because I love both Kaisei and Gyokuran.
The other thing I love is Gyokuran and Yaichiro’s little love story, because I love that Yaichiro got angry at Gyokuran for losing on purpose.
ANNIE: I did like that.
DEE: Because you see that so often in fiction where it’s like the guy doesn’t like the tough girl who’s better than he is, and so, “Oh, well, you should lose on purpose so he won’t feel threatened.” I think that’s a thing a lot of girls have heard growing up. And so I love that Eccentric Family is like, “No! You beat his ass! And if he doesn’t like it, then he’s not worthy of you!”
And Yaichiro doesn’t care! He’s into it! He loves that Gyokuran is really good at shogi. And so, I think their relationship… Also, the fact that they both turn into tigers when they get mad is very funny.
JEFF: Oh, it’s so cute.
DEE: I know!
ANNIE: I’m obsessed with them! They’re so cute! But I did love that moment because it is a really common thing for the girls to just let the guy win a lot of times, and for him to directly call it out and be like, “No, I like that you’re great at this, and you should never let anyone else beat you.” And I was like, “Do I love this man? Yeah.”
DEE: I know! Yaichiro earned a lot of points for me at that moment. I was like, “Oh! You’re a good Shimogamo boy.” They’re all good boys!
JEFF: I love how they keep playing on that shogi keyboard that… it has some teeth marks on the side, but there’s also a gash in the top, so I don’t think you can actually use it but they keep using it anyway.
DEE: [Chuckles] It has sentimental value at this point.
ANNIE: Yeah, I think the only female character that her story isn’t based just around Yasaburo or that family… Benten, she’s just doing her thing. The family… yeah, she did eat their dad but her story is not about her eating the dad. She went to Hell, she beat up some people… [Chuckles]
DEE: Benten’s got a lot going on.
ANNIE: She’s got a lot going on!
DEE: She’s very much got her own life outside of the Shimogamo family. Which, yeah, I do appreciate that about her.
ANNIE: I want her to have one friend who’s not Yasaburo, though.
DEE: Yeah. What do you think of her and the Nidaime, because I kind of feel like the show is setting us up for them to be—
DEE: —enemies-to-lovers kind of setup, right?
ANNIE: I would be kind of into it, but also not, because the Nidaime’s rude!
DEE: He is a rude boy. But to be fair, Benten’s rude, too!
ANNIE: [crosstalk] He threw her on the floor!
DEE: Benten is also very rude.
ANNIE: You’re right! She couldn’t have anyone mild. She would need someone who can match her level.
JEFF: I do kind of like how they’re rude to each other, especially the stuff with the chaise, with the sofa.
ANNIE: [Gasps] It was so good.
DEE: Oh, God!
JEFF: What does he do? He…
ANNIE: Throws her on the floor!
JEFF: He pushes her off, and then she just goes through his closet and steps on all of his clothes.
DEE: All his beautifully, recently ironed shirts? Yeah.
ANNIE: I actually was in love with that scene because he puts down a sheet. He’s like, “Stay where you are! Fine, if you don’t want to get up, I’m gonna do this,” puts the sheet down and then throws her onto it! Because he’s a gentleman; he’s not going to put her on the floor.
ANNIE: Their fight… I was so anxious the whole time.
DEE: It’s a really brutal fight. It’s not a pretty anime fight where they’re flinging wind and fire at each other and running at each other from a distance with swords drawn. They are pulling hair and biting, and it is brutal to watch.
ANNIE: Yeah, I thought it was really well done, and it did hurt me and stressed me out, but also, the aftermath, I really… Like, it hurt me but I enjoyed how it was done. Poor Benten, love of my life.
DEE: Yeah, I know I was saying that the show kind of starts with everybody at their lowest point, but I think Benten’s lowest point is at the end of season 2, which is, again, another reason why to me it so much feels like a bridge season that is setting us up for… This season was Benten’s fall, right? And then next season is “where does she go from here?” Because the Shimogamo family kind of have their shit together at this point.
JEFF: Oh, speaking of Benten’s fall, one little detail that, for most of season 1, I kind of ignored: the (what do you call it?) cuts to commercial where it would show a map of Kyoto, the map of the scenes that are happening? Because it just came on screen too fast for me to pause and look at it. But I noticed in season 2, the episode where they’re doing the thing where they ride the luxury liners in the sky and…
DEE: Mm-hm. During the festival.
JEFF: Yeah, and watch the fire burning in the mountains. In that episode, the ad break came up and mentioned a point on the map that was like “This is where Benten falls in the river.” And I was like, “What? When did that happen?” And then she falls later in the episode. I was like, “Oh. Okay!”
DEE: [Chuckles] It’s a very subtle bit of foreshadowing or a spoiler, depending on how you want to look at it.
JEFF: So, yeah, I’m not sure if all the episodes had little bits of spoilers/foreshadowing in there or if that was just that one episode.
DEE: Some of the maps are about things that will happen later, are about locations that happen later in the episode, but I think that’s the only one that mentions a spot where something happens to a character specifically. So, yeah, they make it out to really be a big deal when it happens. God, that’s a beautiful scene! God, this show is so beautiful!
ANNIE: It was so stunning to look at. Jeff, at least admit that.
JEFF: Yeah, yeah.
ANNIE: Thank you. [Chuckles]
JEFF: It looked pretty.
ANNIE: It was good. I like the art style a lot.
JEFF: Oh, wait, speaking of the art style… So, I was scrambling last-minute to update our notes for the staff behind the show. And then I got to the last thing on my list, the art director, and the last episode we recorded was that Great Pretender. And I went to go update it. I was like, “Wait, why is Eccentric Family already here? Oh! It’s the same art director. Okay.”
DEE: [Chuckles] Yeah!
ANNIE: It’s perfect!
JEFF: Great Pretender had such fantastic backgrounds, and this is definitely not that same vibe, but still really fantastic.
DEE: It’s that same, though, bright, kind of pop art colors that catch the feel more than the actual reality of the colors. Does that make sense? I think that—because I remember when I started watching Great Pretender, I was like, “Why did these backgrounds look so familiar?” And I was like, [gasps] “Eccentric Family!” And I immediately went to the Anime News Network page, and I was like, “I was right! Same art director!” So, yeah, it’s a very distinctive style, but I think it’s a really gorgeous way to show off the vibe of the world, because this show made me want to go to Kyoto.
And real Kyoto is, by the way, maybe not quite as colorful, but just as beautiful as the show makes it out to be, and definitely has that feeling—with all the old shrines and temples and government buildings and things—very much has that feel of: you could turn a corner and be in the Japanese version of Wonderland. There is that sense of magic being just right out of reach. It’s a very, very neat city, and I think this show is in some ways a love letter to Kyoto itself.
JEFF: Yeah, there’s lots of locations that have… Now I sound like humblebragging. I’ve gone to a lot of locations, especially for Digimon locations in real life, which are mostly in Tokyo, and a lot of places in industrial Tokyo look sad in real life compared to how they look in anime.
DEE: They do, right? [Chuckles] I thought the same thing. Kyoto is not, though. Kyoto does not look sad.
JEFF: Kyoto… There were so many scenes in this show, especially along the river or at nighttime… Anything that was at nighttime, I was like, “It looks beautiful, but also exactly as I remember it.” It really does look that beautiful in real life.
ANNIE: I’m getting sad, because when I went to Kyoto, I got really sick, so I was in the hotel for like two days, just ill!
DEE: Oh no!
ANNIE: The one thing I did do is I went all the way to that one shrine that has all the torii that go up the mountain.
DEE: Oh, the Inari Shrine.
ANNIE: Yeah, that one. And I made it halfway up and I was like, “I’m still sick!” and I had to go back down. I’m so sad! I wanted to go!
DEE: I’m proud of you for climbing half of it. See, you’ll just have to go back so you can hit up all the other…
ANNIE: [crosstalk] Thank you. I will.
DEE: … so you can do the full Eccentric Family Tour of Kyoto!
ANNIE: Yeah, it did not click to me in my head (I guess I never put the connection) that it was where Eccentric Family was! And I kept seeing the little plushies everywhere, and I was like, “This is cute! Why do they have this?”
ANNIE: Ugh. My ill brain.
DEE: Yeah, I think the city lowkey sponsored season 2. You know there’s always a list of producers, and sometimes the city that the show takes place [in] will be a sponsor of the show. I think Kyoto really, really embraced this one, which I totally get why. Again, it really is a love letter to the city.
JEFF: Yeah, yeah. Speaking of art direction, I want to talk about the openings, because I thought the first opening starts off great… Actually, I’m not gonna comment on the music; I’m only commenting on the visuals. But the visuals in the first opening start off really interesting, really fun, and then just by the middle point is just showing real live-action footage of Kyoto, and I found it pretty boring, and then it seems like 60% of the opening is focusing on Yasaburo and Yasaburo only. And I was like, “Mm, I don’t like…” Especially after episode 1, where I was like, “Is this just the Yasaburo show? Is it only about him?” and I was pretty down on it.
But the opening for season 2… After the first opening, I was like, “I don’t really like this live-action thing they’re mixing.” But the opening for season 2, with the way they mixed the 2D characters with 3D live-action, looks so good! It’s just full of chaotic energy with characters all over the place, and it’s so… I really love that aesthetic. It’s so nice.
DEE: Yeah, I enjoy all the openings and all the endings of this show. It’s top-to-bottom very good. But yeah, you can feel them leaning into it in season 2, especially with the opening, like “No, real-life Kyoto, that’s where we are! Check it out!”
ANNIE: I know it was probably the marketing of Kyoto, but I thought it was such a fun “Hey! We’re in the real world, but we’re also not. This could be real,” blending the two.
DEE: Yeah, I totally agree.
ANNIE: And also, in the first one, I’m so sorry: I don’t remember the visuals at all because I really liked the song!
DEE: I like the song in season 1 better than season 2.
ANNIE: Yeah. Season 1, where it starts off hype, I’m like, “Whoo! Okay, let’s go!” And I’m just listening. I’m not looking at the screen at all. I’m sorry to everybody…
DEE: [Chuckles] You’re just rocking out.
ANNIE: … who worked on the opening! I was just jamming to the music. But I remember in season 2’s opening, they have this one— because they just cut out animation from the first season and put it in the opening. They have my favorite thing of when Benten is using the fan at one point and she just slowly whips it around and then unleashes the gust of wind, and they put that in the opening. I was like, “Ugh, that’s my favorite scene! Thank you!”
DEE: That was really good.
ANNIE: I was obsessed with when they had to row to her…
DEE: Her clocktower home? Yeah.
ANNIE: Yeah! And then she had the wind, and then she went and rode a whale?
DEE: She pulled his tail because she just felt like doing it that day.
ANNIE: Yes! And it was incredible.
DEE: Like Jeff was saying, I don’t love the way that Akadama kind of leers at Benten, but I do love that Benten is one of the very few anime characters I can think of where I genuinely feel like she as a character owns her sexuality.
DEE: You know what I mean?
ANNIE: She got naked and it didn’t feel gross to me.
DEE: No, it didn’t feel like the camera was ogling her. It just felt like, yeah, Benten is naked. She wanted to be naked here and now she is. It keeps it at a distance and it’s never… Yeah, it doesn’t… Yeah, I agree with you. I think she is very sexy, but I think she is sexy in a way that doesn’t feel like objectification, I guess is how I would describe it.
ANNIE: Mm-hm. I feel like the show is more like: Akadama is gross for doing that to her, but she has owned it and what happened. Ugh, he makes me so angry because Benten’s my favorite and he clearly groomed her because she was stolen as a child, and I’m just like, ugh!
DEE: Yeah, and the show tap-dances around their relationship. I don’t know if him lusting after her now is a new thing or something extremely creepy that’s been going on since she was a kid, but yeah, that always kind of sits in the background of the show, like “What was life like for you, Benten, after you were abducted by this tengu?”
And knowing the folklore, I do not believe that the element of a sexual relationship is necessarily in it. In fact, I think most of the time they abduct dudes and it’s just not really addressed. But yeah, it adds an uncomfortable layer to their relationship at times where it’s like, I don’t know how I’m supposed to read this! [Chuckles]
ANNIE: Mm-hm. It was very uncomfortable, especially (was in the first episode?) where Yasaburo transforms into Benten…
DEE: … and he gropes her, and it’s fucking gross.
ANNIE: [crosstalk] He gropes her! And I’m like, “I’ll kill you.”
DEE: And we never see that with Benten herself. We never actually see him act that way with Benten herself, which is why that first episode is to me very weird in ways, in that it doesn’t quite jive with the rest of the show. Because I think the rest of the show, Benten is very powerful and is very much in control of how she is presented and how she presents herself throughout that first season especially.
ANNIE: And she never lets herself get in a situation where he could do that to her. She’s always keeping him at arm’s length.
DEE: And the scenes we see with the two of them, he’s affectionate but generally pretty respectful of her. He might hang on her arm to get into a car or something, but… I know there’s a later scene where she’s taking a nap at his house and he’s just sitting next to her, being fine. So, yeah, that first episode to me is very strange, is very odd, and doesn’t feel like it’s indicative of what their actual relationship is. But again, we see it all through Yasaburo’s eyes, so I think there’s a lot of wiggle room and uncertainty there.
ANNIE: Love of my life. Every scene with her is great. I also really love the scene when they’re walking after the Friday Fellows meeting and she looks at the moon and she’s crying, and she says, “When I see the moon, I just get really sad,” and I was like, “Ugh, you’re so emo right now and I’m so in love with you.”
JEFF: That reminds me of… I was so conf— When she asks Yasaburo to give her the moon, I was like, “Okay, this is entirely a metaphor. There’s no realism in this version of reality at all,” but then in the next season Tenmaya actually does take down the moon, but then they’re talking about how it’s Yasaburo’s moon and they need to put Yasaburo’s moon back, and I’m like, “What is going on? I’m so confused.”
DEE: Tenmaya’s an illusionist, is the sense I get, like he works in hallucinations. Whereas the tanuki can change themselves so you perceive them as something else, Tenmaya’s magic is… it’s hypnosis, right? He always does some kind of swinging thing and then something weird happens. So, I think what happens in that scene is he creates a hallucination where Yasaburo thinks that the moon is gone from the sky and is now sitting in Benten’s hand. And I don’t know if anything would ever have made that hallucination go away. [Chuckles] So…
ANNIE: It’s weird because Benten comments on it. She picks it up, and she’s like, “Oh! I’ve always wanted one of these.” And I was like, “Oh! I do love her.”
DEE: [crosstalk] She did.
ANNIE: But was that part of the illusion?
DEE: Yeah, and that’s… I mean… it’s magic.
DEE: At a certain point, I just have to shrug.
ANNIE: I know. We can’t think too hard. We can’t think too hard.
DEE: But yeah, I think it’s like a combination of… And maybe that is part of it, too, is we’re not entirely supposed to know if it’s a hallucination that Benten is able to interact with or if it actually happened and Tenmaya changed Yasaburo’s reality. I don’t know. But I did like that it came back around to Benten wanting the moon and being on that same rooftop. I thought that was a nice… There’s some nice parallels between season 1 and 2 that I noticed this time through, and then that was definitely one of them.
JEFF: I thought there was one line, when I went back and revisited episode 1, that… because watching the show initially, I had the same impression as you do that the tanuki can only transform themselves and Tenmaya transforms other things through illusions. But in episode 1, they get a ticket from their mom, and I think Yasaburo comments like, “Oh, this is probably just a leaf.” And it’s like, oh, right, because there’s supposed to be a whole tanuki magical leaf thing going on. But I don’t think they ever mention that again.
DEE: Yeah, I don’t think that comes up again. They should use those magic leaves more often, send notes to each other.
JEFF: I actually don’t know anything about tanuki leaves aside from Mario. Can they transform leaves into, like, money?
DEE: That, I’m not sure. I mean, I know there’s a lot of trickster stories about them tricking people into thinking they have one thing when they actually have something else. So, yeah, I mean, I know there’s stories where their illusion powers can extend beyond just themselves. But I couldn’t go into specifics because it’s been a while since I’ve read up on the different folklore tales and stuff.
ANNIE: Also, aren’t tanukis in real life just so cute?
DEE: Yes. Yes, they are.
ANNIE: I’m just thinking about ‘em. [Chuckles]
DEE: I love tanuki.
JEFF: Do they look different from the statues? Because the statues look ugly.
DEE: Yeah, real-life tanuki don’t look quite like the statue versions of them.
JEFF: Oh, okay.
ANNIE: They’re just like really fluffy raccoon.
DEE: Yeah, they’re little Japanese trash pandas. They’re wonderful.
ANNIE: They’re so funny. They’re so cute.
JEFF: They don’t look as cute as the design in the show, though.
ANNIE: [crosstalk] I want one!
DEE: Oh, no. Oh, no, the show made them look extra adorable.
ANNIE: I was cracking up at that one guy who, every time Benten came around, he would turn into a statue.
DEE: [Chuckles] Because he was terrified of her. That was his way of hiding. “Nobody here! Just a statue.”
JEFF: Oh, wait, I have a grand theory of this show.
JEFF: So, they keep talking, mainly in the first season, about the four brothers inheriting the blood of Soichiro and inheriting different aspects of the blood and stuff. And there was a scene in the beginning of season 2, I think it was, where they’re at the clinic that the (oh, I didn’t write down his name) …
DEE: [crosstalk] Magister. Yeah.
JEFF: … the interim Nise-emon is at. And I think it’s when they actually introduce Gyokuran, as well. And there’s a sign in the background that’s warning people about hemorrhoids…
DEE: Yes! [Chuckles]
JEFF: … and it’s translated for some reason. But the word in Japanese for blood is “chi,” and then the word for hemorrhoids is “ji,” which is just the same character with a little dakuten on top, so it was like “Oh, so, our hemorrhoids… it’s the blood accumulated into our hemorrhoids.”
DEE: [Chuckles, baffled]
ANNIE: I hate you. I hate that you put this much thought into it, and now I have to hear you say those words.
JEFF: I mean, when you think about it, the hemorrhoids are just the inherited blood from Soichiro, but…
ANNIE: Stop! We’re over this! [Chuckles]
DEE: This took a turn. This took an unexpected turn.
ANNIE: Did we have Twitter questions, Jeff?
JEFF: Wait, wait. Speaking of Japanese things, I did want to comment on—
ANNIE: Nobody but you is speaking of these…!
JEFF: I found it especially jarring how Crunchyroll used different sets of translations for the different seasons. That was awkward.
DEE: Yeah, I think I know why that happened. So, obviously, Crunchyroll did their translation of season 1 as the show was streaming, and so they went with Nise-emon for Trick Magister and some other stuff, and “Friday Fellows” and things like that.
And then the show got a Blu-ray release, which had a different… (and this was very typical, and I think it might still be) … was done by a different company, so they did their own translation of it. (I own the Blu-ray, which is why I know this.) In the Blu-ray translation, they translated Nise-emon to Trick Magister, they called them the Friday Club instead of the Friday Fellows… There were some translation differences. And it looks like whoever picked up the translation for season 2 decided to use the terminology that was used in the Blu-ray release. So, I think that’s where a lot of those differences come from.
But this was the first time I had watched both seasons immediately back-to-back on Crunchyroll, and I noticed that as well and I was like, man, I’m really glad I watched the Blu-ray and I know that Nise-emon is the Trick Magister because that would have been really confusing otherwise!
ANNIE: I thought the first time around that it was a new election, and I was like, “We didn’t decide the old one! What’s going on?”
JEFF: Yeah, it’s especially weird because it seemed like season… I did not like how in season 1 they always translated Sensei as Professor, so they keep referring to Akadama as Professor Akadama, and I’m like, “He’s not a professor, though. He’s a tengu.”
DEE: Yeah. He was their teacher, because I guess he… I’m not really clear on what he taught them, but he taught them something. [Chuckles]
JEFF: Right, so Sensei makes sense, but Professor would be…
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah, but Professor doesn’t really track, no. No, Yodagawa actually is a professor, but…
JEFF: Right, right. That’s why I was like, “Is he actually a professor or are they referring to him as Sensei because he’s a human?” I was wondering if they refer to all humans as Sensei because they’re higher than them, but then it seemed like it’s because he’s actually a professor.
Yeah, so it seemed like season 2 was more… I guess the NIS America translation in season 2 translated more, but then they don’t translate Nidaime. Which I’m like, “Well, why is that?” Because Nidaime is just… It’s not even a fancy term in Japanese. It just means “junior,” like the second generation, so it’s like a very common noun. So, that was weird, but I guess it makes it clear that it’s like a title.
DEE: Yeah, I guess they wanted it to feel like he had a name, but I kind of feel like that misses the point that he doesn’t have a name. He actively rejects having a name, which…
I don’t want to get too into this, because I find the Nidaime and Benten and the push and pull between them as opposites—where Benten has collected all of these names and titles and just uses them interchangeably whenever she wants (you know, she’s Suzuki, she’s Benten, she’s a human, she’s a tengu), whereas the Nidaime refuses to hang on to any labels and the two of them are both kind of isolated from the rest of the cast, I think because neither of them really has a community that they consider themselves belonging to… I find all of that really fascinating.
But I think that would have came across a little bit better in the translation if instead of going with “the Nidaime,” they had called him “the Successor” or “the Second” or the second-generation or something like that, because I think that really makes it clear that he literally has no name.
I think Yasaburo even at one point is like, “What would I call you if I didn’t call you the Nidaime?” and he doesn’t say! So, I think his role as this negative presence is really interesting and I’m curious to see how he… Meanwhile, his house is full of shit, right? He’s collected all this stuff, but he himself has no fixed identity.
It’s really interesting! I’m sorry. I don’t want to go down a rabbit hole with the parallels and compare/contrast between him and Benten. But I think it adds to their relationship, and that sense of namelessness, I think, is important to his character.
ANNIE: Yeah, them constantly both questioning… The Nidaime’s like, “Oh, what is it to be a tengu? I’m not a tengu,” and then Benten’s like, “Yeah, I’m kind of a tengu but I’m also a human, clearly,” and I feel like this would be the thing that would bond them and would make them being endgame cool with me. It’s like, “Support each other! You’re both going through something!”
DEE: Yeah, I think the idea of them finding a community with each other because neither of them feel like they quite fit into the current three groups of Kyoto… I think that would be a really good end for their arc. But I just don’t know yet!
JEFF: Yeah, I guess that’s a good transition point to Twitter questions. First one came in from @WriterVrai, and they ask, “Are you holding out hope for the third novel/season? Is it harder to recommend a show that may be incomplete or inaccessible at the time the last part is made?”
I think we’re all definitely holding out hope for it.
DEE: Oh, I am— So, I read this somewhere, and maybe somebody in the comments will correct me on this and I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that the head of PA Works essentially pushed this through because he loves the novels so much. And then it helped that then Kyoto kind of ended up sponsoring the second season, so I think they have… Because it was not like a smash hit, right? I mean, this show was very much kind of a niche cult classic, I think, in Japan and abroad.
But I think it has enough studio support and enough production staff support that it will get a third season if and when the third novel comes out. The problem right now is Morimi hasn’t written a third novel.
DEE: So, I am holding out hope for him to write the dang thing, and I feel very confident that it will get turned into an anime season shortly after it’s written.
JEFF: Yeah, I heard… I heard this secondhand, that there was an interview where I think the president of PA Works mentioned that “If there’s a third book, we’re gonna do the season.”
DEE: Yeah. He loves this series, and this is very much kind of a pet project for them, I think. You can kind of feel it, right? There’s just love in every aspect of this production. It really does feel like a labor of love, just this thing they just really, really wanted to see animated. So, I feel good about the third season.
I don’t know about you guys: do you think it’s harder to recommend it with it being incomplete at this point?
ANNIE: No! Because I still made Jeff watch it. [Chuckles]
DEE: This is true.
ANNIE: I still… I really enjoy it. Even though there’s no concrete ending, Yasaburo’s family, the Shimogamo family… their stories kind of [have] a nice tie at the end of it. It’s open-ended, but it could be done. And it’s sad for Benten, but I still would recommend people watch it because it’s just a good time—or a sad time. But I had a fun time the whole time, and I still try to get people to watch it, and if they don’t like it then we’re not friends anymore, but if they do like it, we’re good!
DEE: [crosstalk] Oh no.
ANNIE: Yeah, so, Jeff? Your days are numbered.
JEFF: Yeah, I can see people concerned, like, “Oh, man, it’s been three years since season 2,” and it’s like, “Oh, no, is it too long?” But the time the novels came out… So, the first book came out in 2007, and the second one came out in 2015, so there was eight years between them.
DEE: [crosstalk] Dang.
JEFF: So, if there’s now eight years since last one, there’s still another three years before the novel comes out. The thing that worries me a little bit is that apparently the second novel came out the same year as the first anime season. So, it seems like the anime season was kind of conceived as like, “Okay, the novel isn’t out yet, but it’s gonna be out soon,” I’m guessing.
But I think, like we said, it seems like PA Works is interested enough that they’re gonna do it if it comes out. So, yeah, it does feel like it’s not finished, but I don’t feel like this is an incomplete work, then. There’s still so much to digest that it’s not like, “oh, you got an incomplete experience.”
DEE: Yeah. I had no qualms recommending this to people after the first season because I think the first season feels more like a complete story. Now that we have a second season, I still recommend the show loudly because I love it very, very much, but I do always feel like I have to add a little asterisk of “Season 2 is kind of a bridge into whatever a season 3 will eventually be.”
So, it’s a little bit tougher for me to recommend it with season 2 out because it does feel more like it’s not complete now than I think it did after season 1. But I love it too much not to recommend it, so I just have to put that little asterisk on it, which is fine. There’s asterisks on a lot of my recommendations, so it’s all good.
JEFF: Yeah, I think I view it as like the second season… I don’t think it’s as good as the first season. But maybe once the third season is out, maybe the second season, I would understand it and it would be more important in retrospect.
DEE: Yeah, I’m in a similar place, for sure.
JEFF: So, I think there’s lots of examples where the second season isn’t as good but that’s not gonna make you recommend it less, you know?
ANNIE: Yeah. Well, I think if they watch the first season, they’ll be attached enough to the characters that the second season is still like “Yay, they’re here!” Just watch the first season and then follow your heart, you know? Because it ends at a good spot to be like, okay, you don’t have to watch the second season if you don’t want to.
DEE: Yeah, if you wanted to wait on it, you could, I think. But definitely watch season 1.
JEFF: I did not like Yasaburo touching Benten’s hair, though. That was a bad way to end the season.
ANNIE: At least it’s just her hair.
DEE: He was trying to comfort her. She appreciated it! She was like, “Pity me more,” basically. She wanted somebody there for her. And he knew he wasn’t the right person, but I think him being there and somebody being there to comfort her… I didn’t take that as a breach of Benten’s space. She seemed to appreciate him being there in that moment.
ANNIE: Yeah, I just feel so sad because he’s the only person who’s not afraid to get close to her and do that besides the gross old man, Akadama.
ANNIE: Ugh, but he would do it gross. Yasaburo was just like, “Hi. I’m sorry.”
DEE: But again, in that second season, we have that scene after Benten’s fall where Akadama’s actually really good. He’s respectful of her space, and in the ending theme we see that he helps her get home but he’s not a creep about it. So, again, those opening scenes with him are just so… they don’t match what we see of the two of them together later in such a weird way. It’s very jarring. But yeah, so…
JEFF: I just realized we never talked about my favorite characters.
JEFF: Well, isn’t it clear because I said “characters”?
DEE: I assume you meant the idiot brothers.
JEFF: Yeah. [Chuckles]
ANNIE: I hate you.
DEE: [crosstalk] Kinkaku and Ginkaku. [Chuckles]
JEFF: They’re so good! I love ‘em!
DEE: They’re very good (what’s the word I’m looking for?), like, minion antagonists. Right?
JEFF: Yeah. I think I love how there are moments where the animation goes ham when animating them being obnoxious and terrible. I can’t remember when this actually happens, but there’s a moment where they’re rubbing into each other and leaning towards the camera, and it’s like, ah, I love them. And that whole… Every time in the first season, they keep getting bitten by Yaichiro in the crotch, so they start wearing metal underwear.
DEE: [Chuckles] Yes!
ANNIE: [unintelligible due to crosstalk] “Now you can’t bite our butts!”
DEE: Aha! “We’re very cold, but you can’t bite our butts!”
ANNIE: They were funny. I hated them so much in such a fun way, like when they were all going to the shrine and it was like, “How do you prove you’re from the Shimogamo family?” And they’re like, “Well, I don’t know how we prove that.” And then Kingaku and Ginkaku walk through, and they’re like, “How come they don’t need to prove it?” And they’re like, “‘Cause we’re great!”
ANNIE: And I was like, “Shut up! I hate you,” but in a fun way.
DEE: They’re very enjoyably unlikable.
JEFF: They don’t really get much time to shine in season 2 at all. That was kinda sad.
ANNIE: No, they’re not the main antagonists anymore.
DEE: No. Well, one scene I did like in season 2 is… they separate for a little bit at the tail end of the season when the final plot is happening, and Ginkaku has a moment where he talks with… the mom, Tousen, and Yashiro are trapped in a cage, and they’re like, “Are you really okay with this?” and he’s like, “Well, I mean, my brother said we should do it, so, yeah, but I’m gonna go talk to Kaisei see what she thinks.”
And I’m like, “Mm, Ginkaku, you might be having a change of heart here, huh, buddy? You’re starting to realize that your family is terrible?” So, I feel like they will eventually be the idiot minions who are kind of redeemed but also still extremely obnoxious.
JEFF: Yeah, I like in that scene when he goes to Kaisei’s room and then she’s not there and then he comes back to them for help, basically. He’s like, “What do I do? She’s not there!” And it’s like, you took them prisoner. Like… [Chuckles]
DEE: He has no idea what to do without Kinkaku around.
ANNIE: It was cute. It was endearing. And I was like, “Maybe I don’t hate you,” you know?
ANNIE: Do we have another question?
JEFF: Yeah. Second question, from @TehLazyArtist. “How did prior knowledge, or lack thereof, of Japanese folklore affect your enjoyment of the show?”
ANNIE: Well, I didn’t know anything, basically. I knew that tanukis were a thing. Didn’t know what tengu were. [unintelligible due to crosstalk] fun guide.
JEFF: [crosstalk] Wait, I’m confused because in Mario tanuki fly.
ANNIE: Jeff, is that your experience with Japanese folklore before this show?
JEFF: It kind of… In terms of tanuki and tengu, it kind of was.
ANNIE: I didn’t put that together. I just always thought he was a little raccoon.
DEE: I believe there is a tanuki Mario and a raccoon Mario. I mean, this has almost nothing to do with our conversation. So, yeah, I think raccoon Mario is the flying one and tanuki Mario is the one that turns into a stone. Because there’s the one that’s a full suit, and then there’s the one that’s just ears and a tail.
JEFF: This is deep Mario lore.
ANNIE: [crosstalk] Wait, so I think he can fly… This Kotaku thing says that Mario is able to fly with both raccoon and tanuki suit, but in the raccoon one, he spins; in the tanuki suit, he turns into a statue.
DEE: Okay, I did know about the statue thing.
ANNIE: Tanuki can’t fly. But I also never knew that there was a difference! [Chuckles]
JEFF: So, yeah, I don’t know if… Does the connection between flying exist in any tanuki lore outside of Mario?
ANNIE: I don’t know, but I did in this Google search come across an article that says, “PETA attacks Nintendo over fur-wearing Mario.” So, you learn something new every day!
JEFF: I mean, on the Wikipedia page for tanuki, if you search for “fly,” it only shows up in the Mario section, so…
DEE: Yeah, no, I’m not aware of any legends about tanuki flying. I think that is a Mario thing.
JEFF: Yeah, okay.
ANNIE: Dee, did you know a lot of stuff?
DEE: I mean, at the time I watched the show… Yeah, I mean, I majored in East Asian studies in college and…
ANNIE: Oh, dang! Okay.
DEE: But the thing is, a lot of the stuff we did was more classic literature, so we did a few short segments on folklore, but honestly, most of what I knew about Japanese folklore I learned from anime and manga, because that just wasn’t necessarily the focus of the program.
So, I’m aware of some of the folkloric tropes—a lot of them after the fact. I think Eccentric Family in some ways sparked my interest in getting to know more about tengu and tanuki, because I was familiar with them, but I knew a lot more about the kitsune fox legends. I just had a very basic grasp on how tanuki and tengu worked in folklore.
So, since the first season came out, I then read more stories and read up more summary-type information about the different critters, and then, rewatching Eccentric Family after that, gained a deeper appreciation for some of the little nods and touches within the show itself.
So, it’s really hard for me to say how it impacted it. I think, on the one hand, it made it easier for me to sink into it, and then on the other hand, it also made me want to learn more about the subject! So, positively overall, I guess, is how it impacted my enjoyment of the show.
JEFF: Yeah, I think my experience was basically only enough to find things that look vaguely familiar. I was like, “Oh, tengu, those look familiar,” and tanuki… I think I was confused because I thought tanuki were only fictional and not a real thing, too, but…
JEFF: I do feel like part of the show is hard to get into if you don’t know the folklore, but I do think it is also… like Dee was saying, it makes you want to research it, and then you can come to it with an even greater appreciation.
But it did kind of remind me of Okami, which is a game that I feel like is all about Japanese folklore and I feel like does not really require any knowledge to understand and appreciate. I feel like it teaches you everything you need to know in the context of the game, and this does feel like it doesn’t really teach you every… So, I think you could come off being kind of confused about things if you don’t want to research outside of it.
DEE: I think a lot of it you just pick up as you go, right? Like, “Oh, these tanuki are transforming. That’s a thing tanuki can do, I guess.” To me, one of the biggest things learning that was helpful was that tengu have a tendency to just kidnap people and teach them magic.
ANNIE: Mm-hm. I had to learn that from this. [Chuckles]
DEE: Yeah. So, that made the Akadama story vibe a little bit better with the folklore that it is playing with and where Benten’s story comes from. But I think a lot of it, especially if you’re willing to just walk into it going, “This is a fantasy world and it’s going to operate by different rules,” I think a lot of it you can kind of pick up as you go along.
ANNIE: Yeah, because I didn’t know much and I still really enjoyed it just by being like, “You know what? Fantasy world. Let’s go!” But it did turn me kind of into a tool for a little bit after I watched the first season because people would be like, “Oh, tanuki?” and I would be like, “Oh, you don’t know about tanuki’s ability to transform? You fool!”
DEE: [Laughs] “Let me tell you.”
ANNIE: “Let me tell you all about this. Would you like to learn about tengu, as well? Because I’m quite the expert!”
ANNIE: What was that, like 2012, 2013? Ugh.
JEFF: I still hate the Friday Fellows.
ANNIE: I hate all of them too, actually. Because didn’t they mention one of them’s like a loan shark and they’re all just kind of rich?
DEE: Yeah. They’re the old rich guys of Kyoto who have just been doing the same thing every year. I don’t think we’re supposed to like them!
ANNIE: I hate all of them.
JEFF: I would appreciate it as an organization if they framed it as like “This is the secret underworld that controls all of Kyoto or something.” But I guess I didn’t get the impression… Maybe I just missed a couple lines. I didn’t get the impression that they were that powerful or that influential. It just seemed like it was just a random group of seven people that happen to do this thing that influence tanuki lives a lot, and so I was like, “Why…?”
ANNIE: Well, I feel like they’re more influential than we get to see; it’s just not apparent to our story. Because someone was pretty high up at a bank or something, one guy has a lot of money, and another guy’s in charge of a huge business, and they all kind of influence things around the area, but it’s not relevant to us besides them literally eating their father!
ANNIE: That was my impression.
JEFF: I also really did not like that Yasaburo condemns Soun for joining and then also joins himself, and it’s like, mm, this seems a little hypocritical, but…
DEE: So, upon this rewatch, I realized that Yasaburo’s story is very much a trickster story, and that scene with the Friday Fellows… My read on it is he knows that Yodagawa is in deep, deep water, and he thinks that the best way that he can rescue him is by disavowing him and basically being like “Yeah…” Distracting from it, right?
Yodagawa’s been captured and they’re pointing a gun at him, and it’s scary. And so, Yasaburo’s like, “Well, I will distract them by pretending like I’ve turned on him and I want to be a member of the Friday Fellows.” Because he’s a member of the Friday Fellows for, what, five minutes, basically? Never goes to a meeting, immediately runs from them and gets excommunicated. He doesn’t actually want to be a member. That scene is very much happening in response to what’s going on with Yodagawa.
So, I don’t see it as hypocritical because I don’t think there was any moment when Yasaburo was like, “I’m totally going to eat tanuki hot pot.” Soun was. Soun didn’t give a crap. [Chuckles] So, that was my read on that.
A lot of season 2 is Yasaburo trying to play a game with all the other characters and use their own pride or sense of power against them. And sometimes it works, and sometimes it backfires horribly and he has to flee from angry human tengu.
JEFF: I guess the thing that to me feels… I think that that read is totally correct and fair, but I think anime has taught me that if someone is playing that kind of trickster role, they should be, at the end, sticking their tongue out and being like, “Oh, I got you!” or something, and instead he is just chill about everything and just running away is… He’s going with the flow so much that I get confused. You know?
DEE: Mm-hm. Well, and like I said, I think on this watch Yasaburo kind of lowkey became my favorite character, which had not been the case before because I also had kind of a hard read on him. Keep in mind I’ve now seen season 1 five times and season 2 three times, something like that.
So, there are little subtle nods in the way he interacts and moves or the flash of expression on his face that have led me to get the feeling of him just constantly screwing with people. And I think a lot of it comes out in, like, you’ll see him acting one way in one scene but then in another scene—where those characters maybe aren’t around, he’s acting in a very different way.
And so, you are able to pick up a little bit better how he’s trying to move the pieces of Kyoto around. And, I think, in season 2 really gets in over his head—thinks that he can create this conflict between Benten and the Nidaime, and then it really blows up in his face, and he dang near ends up in a hot pot.
ANNIE: I just thought it was so pretentious of those Friday Fellows to name themselves after gods, you know?
DEE: Right? It is. They’re a very pretentious group.
JEFF: But you appreciate Benten’s name? That’s also one of them.
ANNIE: [crosstalk] Yeah, but that makes sense.
JEFF: She is a god.
ANNIE: She’s actually powerful, you know? These other guys are like, “Ah, yes, I’m a professor or a teacher.” Shut up.
DEE: She can fly, so…
ANNIE: She can literally fly and she’s been to Hell. Like, what…?
DEE: She wrestled ogres! So, she can call herself whatever she wants.
JEFF: The god that… What’s the professor’s name? Yodagawa? The god that he is named after, Hotei, is apparently the image that we call the smiling or laughing or fat Buddha, is that god and is not actually Buddha, apparently.
DEE: Yeah, they’re all named after the Seven Lucky Gods, and I did not refresh myself on that particular mythology before coming onto this call, so I can’t talk too much about that. I have been so neck-deep in premieres. I had this plan before and I was like, “I’m going to rewatch the whole thing, and I’m going to read all these production notes, and I’m going to read up a bunch of stuff about the mythology so I’m ready to go,” and then I just got completely buried in premieres.
So, a lot of this I’m just operating off of memory on… I did refresh on some of the tanuki–tengu stuff, but yeah, I can’t help you with the Seven Lucky Gods too much other than knowing that they exist and show up in Noragami a lot—which is also very, very good.
ANNIE: I think the only thing I knew is that Benten is the only girl in the Seven Lucky Gods, and Benten’s the only girl in this group, and I was like, “Whoo! She’s powerful!” That’s all I had!
JEFF: Wait, isn’t Benten Bishamon? Oh, no, Bishamon in Noragami is not normally… you know?
ANNIE: No, yeah.
DEE: Noragami does what it wants in terms of gender…
ANNIE: It does not care.
DEE: … gendering of characters, which is A-okay.
ANNIE: I have my own problems with Bishamon in Noragami, but that’s for a different day.
DEE: I acknowledge your problems but I also love her.
ANNIE: Yeah, she’s incredible.
DEE: [crosstalk] I can totally see why you could feel that way, but also, I love her. Yeah. [Chuckles]
ANNIE: When she’s in a full suit with her trench coat, I’m like, “Okay, hello, what’s up? Let’s do this!” And then when she’s in something else, I’m like, “All right.”
DEE: Her battle bikini? Yeah, it’s not great, not great costuming.
ANNIE: I’m like, “That doesn’t protect you one bit.”
DEE: When good anime characters have bad costuming choices.
ANNIE: Yes, because I love Noragami. That, I think, is my main complaint.
DEE: That’s fair.
ANNIE: I think that’s it! That’s the one.
DEE: The only… The single complaint.
JEFF: One last question I have. So, all the male tanuki are named a family first character and then a number and then -ro, like Ya-ichi-ro, Ya-ji-ro. It’s like, one, two, second, third, and so on.
DEE: Well, the -ro, I believe… I would have to look this up again. I’m pretty sure that the -ro basically means child or son, so it’s basically like first son, second son, third son.
JEFF: But so, the thing that I was questioning when they go to visit Tousen’s mom, the grandma, and there’s the forest with tons of them around… Oh, because I guess they introduced one of her… Like, her older brother is Toichiro. And I was like, wait, if he’s Toichiro and she’s Tousen… “Sen” means “thousand.” And I was like, “She’s the thousandth child?” But it’s written with a different kanji, so it’s not exactly that, but I did for a second wonder if… They talked about, like, the mom doesn’t quite remember her, but maybe that’s because she’s old… And yeah, I don’t know.
DEE: I’ve actually never looked at the kanji for the mom’s name, so I didn’t know what it was derived from, there. That would be amazing if she had that many children, though.
JEFF: Well, did you think… in that crowd of tanuki there, did you think those were all children?
DEE: I mean, I assumed it was like kids and grandkids, and she’s clearly the matron leader of the Tanukidani Shrine.
Which, I’ve been to that shrine. It’s really cool.
JEFF: [crosstalk] So is it named like that? In real life, it’s like Tanuki Valley?
DEE: Yeah. It is absolutely jam-packed with tanuki statues. It’s known for a ton of tanuki statues and a very, very long set of steps. It’s way out on the outskirts of Kyoto and getting to it is a hike! But by God we did it because I wanted to see the tanuki shrine!
DEE: It was totally worth it. I mean, it’s a small shrine; they don’t get a ton of… It’s not like Inari; they don’t get a ton of visitors and stuff. But it was really, really neat to go see it.
But yeah, so, I get the sense that Tousen’s mom is sort of the leader of that shrine in the same way that the Shimogamo family Tousen married into… Soichiro was kind of the leader of that shrine. So, yeah, I assumed those were kids, grandkids, spouses of kids.
They were kind of treating her like a god in one of the scenes we see, which I think is just veneration of the elderly, kind of thing. I really like the scenes with her. I like knowing that there are women—there are tanuki ladies in power.
JEFF: Yeah, that’s something that I was worried… I was like, why is everything so patriarchal? So, at least there’s one matriarchy out there.
DEE: I get the sense it’s a little bit of old-fashioned sphere-of-influence type thing where the government is primarily led by… I say “men,” but you know what I mean, male tanuki, but then, the shrines themselves have these matriarchal figures kind of look over them. So, hopefully it implies that there’s at least a kind of balance there even if there is a gender split.
ANNIE: I did love those scenes. She was so cute and was so fluffy. I wanted to hold her.
DEE: I love the advice she offers, too. I like that… You can clearly tell that she’s so old her memory’s not great, but she still has these really nice moments of wisdom for Yasaburo that are… it’s common-sense type stuff, but I just find those scenes really soothing to watch. And her point about… I forget exactly what she tells him, but basically like, “Don’t forget to cause a little trouble now and again, because you’re a tanuki.”
ANNIE: It was so cute.
DEE: Yeah, it was really sweet. And then she gives her blessing for him and Kaisei and is like, “I knew you two were together. I knew it!”
JEFF: When she first appeared and is on that pillow (which, first off, is a really elaborate pillow… anyway…), I was like, “Okay, so she’s so old she can’t move.” And then later when she’s just bouncing around the forest, I’m like, “Oh no! I guess she’s okay. Okay. I guess it’s fine.”
DEE: She gets lost because she can’t see so well or remember things but, no, she’s apparently still pretty spry for an ancient tanuki.
ANNIE: You can’t take her down.
DEE: That’s right.
JEFF: As much as I want some good food for my hot pot.
ANNIE: No, you can’t—
DEE: We’ve already established tanuki don’t even taste good.
ANNIE: Yeah, get outta here. Oh, that was so… I was so sad. I cried a lot when they did the flashback to the scene where Soichiro’s talking about like, “Oh, I hope I don’t taste bad. I’d hate to ruin a hot pot.” And he’s like, “Eh, I lived a good life, caused a lot of trouble.” I was crying and I was like, “That’s such a nice… I’m sad that you’re dying, but it’s a good way of looking at it, I guess!”
DEE: Yeah, there’s very much this sense in the tanuki world… You start to get the feeling that if you’re not dancing on the edge of a hot pot then you’re not really living. [Chuckles] So he seems…
But the other thing I really like is, in season 2, Yasaburo has kind of a dream-ghost moment with his dad where he kind of says, “You left us all alone. That was really not okay.” And you get that sense that Yasaburo has some complicated feelings about… his dad had no regrets, but he did leave a family behind, and that kind of hurts as one of his kids.
Yeah, I think the show… There’s a lot to tease out and talk about, and I think there’s a lot of nuance in the way the characters interact and how they feel about each other. And the relationships are not simple. And I appreciate that about it, and so I think it’s why I like rewatching it and why every time I watch it I get something a little bit different out of it.
ANNIE: Yeah, but it’s like they are so relatably human while not being human and doing weird tanuki stuff.
DEE: Yeah. I mean, they have a moral code and a concept of societal norms that is in many ways inherently different from human society, but I feel like the show sinks so thoroughly into that world that they feel better-realized and more developed and complex than most human characters in most anime do! So, yeah, I appreciate that combination of unreality with that human element of family and community and that kind of stuff.
JEFF: I still feel like the way they interact with the threat of being turned into a hot pot is a little frustratingly unrelatable.
DEE: Oh, it’s very strange! I agree.
ANNIE: [flippant] “We could be hot pot. Who knows?”
JEFF: [Chuckles] But when Soichiro is facing his own mortality, I really was moved by those scenes where he’s come to terms with it.
DEE: Yeah. Those scenes are good!
JEFF: I feel conflicted about whether the show is endorsing that message or condemning it, because it feels like in that moment it’s done so well and there’s so much weight behind it that it feels like it is endorsing that view.
But then later, in the actual climax of the season, none of the characters are facing their mortality with that level of acceptance. And they shouldn’t, because they get out of it, and if they had accepted it, that would have been a bad thing to do. So I’m kind of like… But I guess, like you’re saying, it’s messy and it’s complicated and everyone has different feelings.
ANNIE: He was also a lot older, I thought.
DEE: Yeah, I think a lot of The Eccentric Family is not necessarily taking— It’s not didactic, right? It’s not saying, “This is how you should feel about this.” It’s showing you a bunch of different characters and their perspectives and letting us basically have the conversation we’re having right now, right? Like, “well, what do you think about this?” And I appreciate that.
I also think there’s kind of an element, maybe, of the next generation doing things a little differently, right? We’re now kind of shifting into the kids and “how are they going to approach this world and this society and what kind of changes are they going to make along the way?” Because the Shimogamo family are eccentric tanuki. Their dad was the ideal tanuki and they’re all supposed to be failures, but they’re making their own way and finding their own place in tanuki society, regardless.
So, I think maybe there is also that element of “In the past we just accepted that we would get thrown into a hot pot, but maybe the next generation isn’t going to accept that anymore.” So, I think you’re right to see those conflicts in the story, Jeff. I think my argument would be that they are there intentionally. I don’t think they’re an accident.
JEFF: That’s fair.
ANNIE: Yeah, because he was so dignified, is what they were saying. It’s like, oh, he looks so dignified and stoic and just went with it. And one of the things Yasaburo’s struggling with… he’s like, “I’m not like my dad at all, other than being dumb…”
ANNIE: “… and causing trouble and—”
DEE: [crosstalk] That trickster impulse, yeah.
ANNIE: Yeah. So, I feel like it worked out, showing, “We’re not our father. We’re not going to accept this. That might be seen as a failure but, I mean, we’re alive, so, sorry to our dad.”
DEE: One of my favorite moments is in season 2 when Yaichiro, towards the very end, when he finds out Yasaburo’s in a hot pot and he looks across the crowd of tanuki and realizes none of the elders are going to do jack.
And he turns into a tiger and basically says what Yasaburo’s kind of been saying from episode 1. He’s like, “To hell with your traditions and this Trick Magister thing. I’m Yaichiro and I’m gonna go save my brother.” And then Gyokuran goes with him. And he’s like, “Sorry, I know that this is very foolish,” and she’s like, “No, no, no, I’m into it.” [Chuckles]
ANNIE: Yes! Hey, they’re tanuki!
DEE: “This is one of the reasons we’re together, is because I agree with you on this one.” And I really liked that moment of, again, the next generation going, “No, no, no. We’re going to do things differently. We’re not just going to leave our family members to die just because we’re tanuki and hot pots are what happen to us.”
ANNIE: It felt like such a good— I mean, I wasn’t aware of a lot of the traditions beforehand, but it felt like a good discussion on the value of traditions and when it is and not appropriate to get rid of them or bend the rules.
DEE: Yeah, I agree. Which is also why I love Yodagawa’s total about-face, like, “Wait, no, I changed my mind! We will not eat tanuki anymore. This is a stupid tradition. Just drop it, guys.”
ANNIE: Ugh, what a good show.
DEE: I would, again, hope that a third book would kind of keep going in that direction with the story. But I guess we’ll just see!
JEFF: Well, now it comes to the part of the show where we have to decide which of us to be boiled into hot pot. So…
ANNIE: Jeff, it’s you.
ANNIE: I’m so sorry. I have no hesitation.
DEE: I mean, you are the only one who didn’t absolutely adore this show, so…
JEFF: Well, I guess I have no regrets.
DEE: [Chuckles] No, we’ll defy tradition and none of us will be boiled into hot pots. We’ll turn into tigers and rescue each other.
ANNIE: A revolution.
DEE: That’s right.
ANNIE: Well, I loved it. I’ll continue to love it for the rest of my life. It’s in my top three, I’m pretty sure. Jeff, where is it on your top three? One, two, or three?
JEFF: I’m afraid I’m about to get boiled if I don’t say the right answer!
DEE: So, I have a question about your guys’ “Weeb It” category because I listened to some episodes and I’m a little unclear about this.
DEE: Is it basically saying…? Because to me, The Eccentric Family is not… When I think of the concept of weebs and what a “Weeb It” would be, it would be like, I don’t know, boilerplate isekai.
DEE: Like, “Oh, well, only people who are super into, I don’t know, stereotypical anime tropes would be into this show.” That was the sense I got from that category.
And I cannot imagine throwing The Eccentric Family at somebody who’s like, “Well, I just want to watch shows like Naruto.” And that is not a knock against people who like your standard shounen anime. That’s fine. Like what you like. It’s all good. But Eccentric Family’s not in that category.
So, what does “weeb it” mean? And you can cut this part out of the episode, but I was unclear as to what that label meant, other than being a really good pun on “Love it or leave it.”
ANNIE: Thank you! [Chuckles]
JEFF: It’s good content because I don’t think we’ve ever made it clear.
ANNIE: I feel like “Love It” is like “Doesn’t matter who you are; if you’re a weeb or not, you should watch this show.” And it’s good. That’s loving it. And then weebing it is the other category by default. [Chuckles]
DEE: So, anything else.
ANNIE: Yeah, or sometimes there are things that are not necessarily just that gross isekai but are very niche things that people might like because they simp for Japan or something, and I’d be like, “You can have that show, but no one else should watch it except for you.”
JEFF: [Chuckles] I think of it as like… When I say everyone should go watch it, then it’s love. And if it’s not that, if it falls short at all, then it’s “weeb it”, but I know that’s a false dichotomy. It doesn’t actually exist. There’s no show that I actually think is for literally everyone.
DEE: Yeah, that was what I was gonna say. I feel like all of my recommendations come with “Well, if you like this or that.” Like, I think Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju is one of the greatest anime ever made.
ANNIE: [Gasps] Yeah!
DEE: But if you’re not into historical dramas, I’d be hesitant to recommend it to you. Also, I probably wouldn’t give it to a 15-year-old because they’d probably find it boring. And that’s okay! I would have found it boring at 15, too! [Chuckles]
ANNIE: Oh my God. That’s my top show!
DEE: Yeah, same. Well, it’s Utena, but…
ANNIE: [crosstalk] Wow, look at us.
DEE: Sorry. Okay, Revolutionary Girl Utena is my top show, and I will throw that at almost anybody. But Rakugo’s like number two.
JEFF: So here’s how I reconcile that. I think it’s like if it’s recommended to everyone except blank or blank, then it’s Love It. If it’s recommended to… Do I say “everyone” minus a couple things? Then it’s Love It. If I say, “If you like ‘blank,’” then it’s Weeb It. Does that make sense? It’s like do you start with the glass full and then take away a little bit, or do you start with the glass empty and add a little bit?
DEE: Hm, okay.
ANNIE: Yeah, I think… What was the one that was really weird? Dorohedoro?
JEFF: Mm-hm, mm-hm.
ANNIE: I think I ended up saying I loved it or I would “love it,” but I also said it’s not for me.
ANNIE: Because I don’t like gore. But I think enough people who… Like, if you’re into kinda fun stuff, I wouldn’t say you have to be into anime to watch Dorohedoro, I think is the thing.
ANNIE: Like you don’t have to like anime.
JEFF: Did we end up the complete opposite for that?
ANNIE: Yeah, I don’t think you loved it.
JEFF: Well, I think I didn’t “love it” because I was saying I personally really like it but I think you have to have a particular affinity for this kind of thing to appreciate it.
ANNIE: Yeah, I think Weeb It’s more like you have to like anime to like this! Like, what was one when…? I mean, I weebed it anyways, but Rent-A-Girlfriend.
JEFF: [Huffs, amused]
ANNIE: We hated that one!
DEE: Oh, I listened to that one. That was really good.
ANNIE: We hated it!
DEE: No, I believe you gave it a new category, which was “Burn It with Fire.”
ANNIE: Oh my God, we hated it so bad! Ugh, what a nightmare. Well, there’s another one that I weebed, Jeff, that I hated that you made me watch? What was that, Bofuri?
JEFF: Bofuri’s good! It’s pure and innocent.
DEE: Aw, Bofuri’s nice!
ANNIE: No one who doesn’t watch anime would watch that and enjoy it.
DEE: I think if you’re into MMOs… I don’t think there was anything in that one that I would consider to be like high-level anime bullshit. I mean, it was a chill-out show about girls fighting monsters.
ANNIE: I know. I sent Jeff so many screenshots of booty shots that I was mad about. And I was like, “How dare you make me watch this?” I was so mad. I thought it was gonna be cute lesbians maybe. But no! My dreams were dashed.
JEFF: Well, thank you for giving us a chance to explain.
DEE: Yeah, sure.
I’m gonna give it a Love It because I do love it, and it’s one of those where I think I would encourage everybody to try it. You know, if you get three, four episodes in and it’s just not clicking for you, then… I mean, that’s going to happen with anything. Right?
But I think it does a lot of things that are different from… I think it’s off the beaten path as far as what people think of when they think of anime. I think it’s engaging much more in folklore, and like I said, I don’t think it’s didactic. I think it asks you to engage with the material and have arguments with it, like you were, Jeff, while you were watching it. And I had similar arguments while I was watching it, as well.
So, I would give it a Love It rating. I think it’s a sophisticated show that is absolutely beautiful. And, again, it’s not going to be for everybody because nothing is for everybody, but I think it’s well worth trying.
ANNIE: Yes, fully agree.
JEFF: Okay, I think I’ve come around, and 50% is because if I don’t give into the bullying, then I’ll be boiled. But 50% of it—
DEE: No! Jeff, listen, live your truth. I mean, I will be—
ANNIE: Yeah, say your wrong opinion, Jeff.
DEE: I will be sad because I do love this show and so I want other people to enjoy it, but if you genuinely didn’t care for it, that’s fair.
JEFF: No, see, I do… Like I was saying, I think I would recommend this to everyone with only a small caveat, that if you have absolutely no interest in Japanese folklore, then you probably won’t enjoy it. And if you’re just grabbing people who are just into shounen anime that don’t want to learn anything and if you just want to turn your brain off completely, I think this will be a very… Yeah, if you want to turn your brain off or you want to not be paying attention half the time, this will be a very confusing and frustrating show.
DEE: Oh, yeah!
JEFF: But if you’re willing to give it a chance and to actually focus on it and give it attention, then I think I can recommend it wholeheartedly, and especially because I think some of my things that have colored my interpretation so much were me being confused about things, and now having them clarified makes me a lot more positive.
DEE: Yay! [Chuckles]
ANNIE: We got him!
ANNIE: Okay, so it’s the best show ever made…
DEE: I’m glad this conversation helped you come around on it. No, that genuinely makes me really happy. It reminds me of when I’ve done write-ups on shows week to week and people being like, “Oh, wow! That was a good point.” And, you know, I’m glad I could help you appreciate the wonders of Eccentric Family, Jeff. I’m glad Annie and I could both do that for you. Now you should rewatch it and you’ll like it even more!
JEFF: Right, I think I’m definitely… especially that taste I got of episode 1 where I hated episode 1 on first watch and on second watch I was like, “Oh, I can appreciate the artistry, the music…” Because a lot of the music, I really did not dig the first time around, but second time around, I could appreciate just living in the scene. And I think that would be a really fun experience. Especially a couple years out where I’m hazy on some details but I remember the loose structure, I think it’ll be really fun.
DEE: Oh, yeah. Yeah, it definitely rewards a rewatch. For sure, for sure.
JEFF: So, yeah, you probably should have already watched it at this point, but it’s available subbed and dubbed on Crunchyroll and VRV. And hopefully season 2 gets a physical release at some point, because that’s sad that it hasn’t gotten a physical release.
DEE: I know! I keep crying. My shelf only has season 1. And it’s a really nice season 1 Blu-ray. It comes with a little booklet. It’s got some production notes. It’s great. So I recommend the Blu-ray, as well. It’s a really nice box set.
JEFF: But you never know if that booklet is actually a booklet or a tanuki leaf.
DEE: That’s true. It could turn into a leaf at any moment! I’ll have to be cautious.
ANNIE: Jeff, I’m gonna throw you into the sea. I can’t—
JEFF: With the giant whale that Benten’s riding?
ANNIE: Wow, I miss her already. I’m gonna rewatch.
DEE: [Laughs] Go get your daily dose of Benten, Annie.
ANNIE: Yeah. I have several GIFs of her just saved on my phone, and sometimes when I’m sad I’m like, “I’m gonna go look at those.”
JEFF: Oh, what? [Chuckles]
ANNIE: She’s my inspiration for living.
DEE: Good and powerful! What’s the shirt she wears, “Unrivaled Invincibility” or something like that?
ANNIE: She’s an icon. [Chuckles] Love her. Lowkey worship, but it’s fine. It’s normal and healthy.
JEFF: Not like those old men that you hate.
ANNIE: No, that’s weird! What I’m doing’s fine!
JEFF: You’re just stalking her and capturing photos of her on your phone.
ANNIE: I’m not stalking her, okay? I don’t know where she is.
DEE: It’s okay.
JEFF: All right, all right, let’s get into some non-anime recommendations.
DEE: The recommendation I decided to pull out of my hat for here at the end of the show was… I recently played a narrative visual game called Jenny LeClue: Detectivú. I don’t know if either of you have heard of it. It’s an indie game, very cleverly written, that kind of treads the line between being a visual novel and being a puzzle game. So, there’s a social interaction element to it, but then it’s also like you’re solving puzzles to try to solve this mystery that this girl is going on.
It’s got this meta-narrative where the outer story is about the author of this long-running children’s book series but the books have gotten too formulaic and his editor is threatening to cancel the series if he doesn’t kill somebody in this next book! He has to really raise the stakes this time! And so, you keep cutting over to him becoming progressively more desperate and drunk, because he really doesn’t want to do this! And then you keep cutting back into the story that he’s writing about Jenny and the people in her life and the story that she’s going through.
The only caveat to it is that it is technically chapter 1, and I didn’t know that going in. So, it ends on this big plot twist and then just smash-cut to credits, and I was very confused. But if you go into it knowing it’s not a full game, it is extremely charming. The puzzles are challenging but not to the point where you’re gonna want to pull out your hair. You just have to think a little bit and you’ll get through ‘em just fine.
So if you enjoy puzzle games or just good stories, it’s really fun and I would highly recommend that. It’s available, I know, on the Switch and probably Steam and I’m not sure where else.
JEFF: Looks really cute!
ANNIE: I just looked up the art. Yeah, it looks super cute!
DEE: The art is like paper cutout style, almost. Yeah, the art is really good. The voice acting is great. Again, the social interaction element is kind of fun because you can sort of change Jenny’s personality based on how you respond to different characters and things. So, yeah, it’s very charming, and I… big “happy surprise” from 2020 for me. So, would recommend.
JEFF: I like how on the Nintendo Switch store there’s like one image in the screenshots that shows a narrative choice and it’s “Respect your elders” or “Respect them some other time.”
ANNIE: [crosstalk] That’s cute.
DEE: [Chuckles] Which I think gives you a good idea of the dialogue, and the scriptwriting is really good in it. So, yeah, it’s fun. Jenny’s great.
JEFF: Annie, are you prepared to disappoint me?
ANNIE: You’re next in line!
JEFF: Okay, I guess I am next in line.
JEFF: [Chuckles] So, I have not really been doing anything aside from watching Eccentric Family 24/7. But the one thing I’ve been fitting in is… I’ve already recommended Final Fantasy XIV before, but the change in my Final Fantasy XIV life that I’ve done recently is switching from… I only played DPS before because I thought that was the easiest thing to play as a beginner, as a noob.
But I started playing as a healer. And I find it a lot more fun, and there’s something weird to going in with this vibe of just keeping everyone safe and helping everyone. Just makes it like I come out of the dungeon and I’m like, “Oh, yeah, I kept everyone safe. And it was sustainable! Everyone came out healthy and good.” And it doesn’t go in with these “I’m gonna murder everyone!” vibes, and I’ve been surprised how much that makes me feel happier after playing. It’s kind of a weird thought to have, but yeah, I’d recommend healing in an MMO.
DEE: I don’t think that’s weird at all. I think that’s really sweet.
ANNIE: That’s fun. Yeah, it’s better than when I recommended people eat a sweet potato.
ANNIE: I didn’t think of anything! That’s why Jeff’s always disappointed by me!
DEE: [Laughs] I mean, sweet potatoes are good. It’s not a bad recommendation. It’s just…
ANNIE: I was like, “Eat a sweet potato. Throw it in the oven!”
JEFF: [Chuckles] If you had, like, a recommendation for a recipe… but it was just “Put in the oven.”
ANNIE: I also had one… I was just like, “Oh, just put egg over rice. Good. Solved.” This is why Jeff hates me!
DEE: “I solved rice. You’re welcome!” [Chuckles]
ANNIE: Wait, I think I have one. I don’t think I’ve said this one yet. Oh, I hope I haven’t said this one yet! Did I say Tale of the Nine Tailed already?
JEFF: I don’t think so.
ANNIE: Great! K-drama. Was watching it.
JEFF: Oh no.
ANNIE: Started to love it. Sorry! It’s all I do outside of anime! That’s not true: I eat sweet potatoes.
ANNIE: But this one’s about a nine-tailed fox, and apparently he was very, very powerful and was basically the god of a mountain, and then he fell in love with a human…
JEFF: Are you just reading Naruto?
ANNIE: No! And then she died. And then he made a deal with the Grim Reaper, and he’s like, “Hey, I’ll give up being a mountain god if you can promise she’ll be reincarnated some day.”
JEFF: Oh, this is a live-action drama?
DEE: This sounds kind of interesting!
ANNIE: Yeah! And he’s like, “She’ll be reincarnated someday. Just promise me that, and I will give up being a god and I’ll do…” not military service, but he’ll go and take out other foxes who are abusing their power and killing humans.
ANNIE: And then it focuses on this main girl who looks just like that other human, but he’s run into tons of those over the 600 years that he’s just been waiting for this one girl to be reincarnated! But this girl… her parents were killed by foxes and she has a weird connection to the mystery world, so this feels very connected to this episode that we’re having. But it’s really cute and kind of weird, and the main guy who plays the nine-tailed fox is very attractive.
DEE: It kind of sounds like my jam. [Chuckles]
ANNIE: Yeah! It’s on Viki, and I think it’s on there… It’s free. You don’t have to pay for this one.
ANNIE: So, you can just watch it there. Jeff, please don’t write Naruto as what I recommended. I see that in the show notes.
ANNIE: It’s so cute and also kind of dives into Korean folklore. So that’s fun and I’m learning so much!
DEE: Yeah, I am a sucker for reincarnation stories and I’m a sucker for folklore, so that sounds fantastic.
ANNIE: Ugh, yes, it’s… Okay, now I’m just thinking about it. I’m not caught up. I’m only like six episodes in. But I think it’s airing right now. I don’t think it’s done.
JEFF: Wikipedia said that it finished in December.
ANNIE: Dang! I gotta catch up.
JEFF: But there’s a spinoff.
DEE: You gotta see how it ends.
ANNIE: [Gasps] Wait, what? It’s a spinoff. Don’t read it. I don’t want to know.
DEE: [Chuckles] Yeah, it might accidentally spoil something.
ANNIE: Yeah, please don’t— It’s not Korean Naruto!
ANNIE: Jeff, I’ll kill you!
DEE: Yeah, they really don’t sound anything like.
ANNIE: Just the Nine-Tailed. Wow, I’m just thinking about it. It’s so fun. The effects aren’t super great, but they’re a good time and you don’t need great effects.
ANNIE: It’s better than The Untamed, if you’ve seen that.
JEFF: I was curious because you’re describing it… It sounded like a thing that wouldn’t be good in live action. It seems like it would require weird effects.
ANNIE: No, because he’s in human form most of the time—actually all of the time. It’s just the magic effects that sometimes happen.
DEE: God, that has massive shoujo manga vibes. I’m into it.
ANNIE: Oh, yeah, and then his little brother who he abandoned shows up and he’s mad.
DEE: And there’s family drama!
ANNIE: Yeah, it’s very anime.
DEE: I probably need to get into this.
ANNIE: I hope I can convert you into a Tale of the Nine Tailed watcher because, oof, the vibes: incredible. [Chuckles]
DEE: That sounds fun. I have to put that on the list.
JEFF: Talking about resurrection romances, it reminds me of Seven Deadly Sins having really gross grooming involved in resurrection romances.
ANNIE: [crosstalk] Ew. Jeff, why you gotta ruin my good time?
JEFF: [Chuckles] Well, thank you everyone for listening. Leave a review on Apple Podcasts. If you don’t, you’ll be boiled into a hot pot. Oops, sorry. That’s just tradition.
ANNIE: Oh my God. Huh! Anyways, if you want to tell Jeff to shut up, you can email us at email@example.com or tweet at us @LoveItOrWeebIt.
JEFF: Or you can find us on our new website. We actually have two new websites.
ANNIE: [crosstalk] Did you? Did you really?
JEFF: I did. You can find our new websites, loveit.lol or weebit.lol.
ANNIE: I’m gonna kill you with my own two hands!
JEFF: I spent $20 on those domains, so someone is a dumb…
DEE: [crosstalk] And you regret nothing! [Chuckles]
ANNIE: Anyways, I’m on Twitter @annieothername.
JEFF: And I am @jeffinitelyjeff. Dee, where can people find you?
DEE: People can find me on Twitter @joseinextdoor. That is J-O-S-E-I. There’s been some confusion about that in the past. You can also find all my writings, including that epic two-part Eccentric Family essay I wrote called “Failed Tanuki and Half-Baked Tengu,” over on my website, joseinextdoor.com. And I am constantly yelling about anime with my fellow Anime Feminist staffers at animefeminist.com.
ANNIE: Whoo! Oh, thank you for coming on the show!
DEE: Thanks for having me! This was fun.
ANNIE: I’m so glad to find another Eccentric Family enthusiast. [Chuckles]
DEE: Heck yeah!
JEFF: I’m glad this was a really, really big, meaty tanuki meat episode.
DEE: Jeff, stop threatening to eat tanuki!
ANNIE: [crosstalk] Okay, this is not— We gotta go before this happens again.
JEFF: All right, so join us next week for… I’m not sure what we’re gonna do next week. Hm. Maybe the winter 2021 draft?
ANNIE: That sounds good! That sounds like what we should do.
JEFF: Well, anyway, mystery, mystery.
ANNIE: [crosstalk] Bye!
JEFF: Bye! And as we always say: Hey now / you’re an all-star / get your game on / go, anime.
JEFF: And as we always say: Hey now / you’re an all-star / get your game on / go, anime.
JEFF: That’s the last one.
ANNIE: I hate this.
JEFF: It’s done.
ANNIE: Thank you! He’s finished this song.
JEFF: The song’s done, and now I need to think of a different idea for next season.
DEE: I know at one point we did lowkey say we would boil you in a hot pot, so I just wanted to make sure you were feeling okay.
ANNIE: [crosstalk] And I still will!
JEFF: Well, I’ve come to terms with it. You know, I’ve raised… how many episodes of this podcast?
ANNIE: Four beautiful children.
JEFF: Four seasons of this beautiful podcast.
DEE: Four beautiful podcast seasons and however many tweets and… yeah.
JEFF: Oh yeah, my tweets. I’ll look at the number. I live on through the 43.9 thousand tweets? Jesus!
JEFF: Oh my God!
ANNIE: Jeff, are you realizing you have a problem?
DEE: You’re coming to terms with your tweet issues. Yeah, it’s okay. I’m right there with you.