Failed Tanuki and Half-Baked Tengu: Identity & Community in The Eccentric Family – Part 2

Picking up right where we left off…

“Tengu, tanuki, humans… why are all of you so foolish? I’m completely surrounded by fools!”

In Part One of our winding two-part Tour de Kyoto, we talked about the assumptions and expectations attributed to the tanuki, tengu, and human populations that inhabit The Eccentric Family‘s world, as well as how the pressures to live up to an unattainable group ideal affected Akadama and the four Shimogamo brothers. Here in Part Two, we’ll take the show’s exploration of personal and group identity one step further, looking at the characters who defy their “natures” and deny their names, and how the lines between the three groups get blurrier as the series progresses.

What does it mean to be a tanuki? A tengu? A human? Is there any real distinction at all? Our characters insist there is, but their actions tell a different story.

Click here for the full post on Crunchyroll!


Did you know? Have you heard? The Josei Next Door has a tip jar!

Advertisements

Failed Tanuki and Half-Baked Tengu: Identity & Community in The Eccentric Family – Part 1

I always said I’d write a bunch of words about this series someday. Who knew I’d write them all in one go?

“Humans live in the city, tanuki crawl the earth, and tengu fly through the air. Since the Heian era relocation, humans, tanuki, and tengu have maintained a delicate balance. That’s what keeps the great wheel of this city turning round and round. More fun than anything is watching that wheel spin.”

Right from its opening lines, The Eccentric Family establishes Kyoto as a city inhabited by three groups—tanuki, tengu, and humans—with clearly defined traits and domains. Through first-person narration and character dialog, we’re given a general idea of how each group thinks, feels, and acts. The series then proceeds to spend two seasons quietly but systematically tearing those assumptions apart.

As the story progresses, it challenges its characters’ strict ideas about identity by depicting a variety of individuals who either can’t or won’t adhere to the group they belong to, blurring the boundaries both within and between the three spheres so that it becomes less and less clear what it means to be “a tanuki” or “a tengu” or “a human” at all. Through its colorful world and unique individuals, The Eccentric Family asks us what makes us who we say we are—and wonders how we’d find that answer in the first place.

Click here for the full post on Crunchyroll!


Did you know? Have you heard? The Josei Next Door has a tip jar!

Glancing Upstream: Spring 2017 Retrospective and Review

Hot sequels, cool tutors, and. Um. Kado.

This is a sparser list than usual, jam-packed with sequels but relatively light on everything else. I took a vacation in early June where I didn’t have time to watch anime, and lemme tell ya, that week away really puts into perspective which series you’re invested in and which you’re just watching for the sake of having something on the TV. At the end of that week, three series were on the cutting-room floor, which I think is the first time my Midseason and Series Review posts have differed so dramatically.

It was the kind of season that started strong and then kind of petered out, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some great showings along the way (mostly in the form of sequels), a hidden gem or two (mostly in the form of The Royal Tutor), and a show that just… um… what? Hit the jump to learn more about that last one, as well as overall thoughts on all the others, too.

Continue reading

The Royal Tutor – Episode 12: “The Last Lesson”

Concludin’ ain’t easy.

A series that began with comedy and surprises ends with drama and predictability, and I can’t say I’m too happy with that shift. It’s not an awful finale by any stretch, and there are some worthwhile ideas and a few nice scenes built into it, which we’ll talk about at the end so I can finish on a positive note. But it’s so darn boilerplate compared to the offbeat, effortless charm of the first 10 (and even moments of 11) episodes. It’s hard not to approach this episode with disappointment and a dash (or two) of salt.

…Er, as that intro suggests, this is the most critical commentary I’ve written in a long while. If you enjoyed this episode and don’t want me to yuck your yum, then now’s your chance to close the window and go read something else. I promise I won’t hold it against you. The rest of you are welcome to join me as I do my best to explain where this anime-original ending went awry.

Click here for the full post on Anime Evo!


Did you know? Have you heard? The Josei Next Door has a tip jar!

The Royal Tutor – Episodes 10-11: “The Professor I Don’t Know”/”The Pair’s Promise”

Flawed but Feelsy.

In the big lead-up to our grand finale, Count Rosenberg shows his claws, the boys show off their growing maturity, and Heine… shows himself out the door?! Sensei, say it ain’t so! Amidst cleaning shenanigans and princely sleuthing, our protagonist’s long-buried past at last comes to light. And it is… well, underwhelming, to tell the truth. But it’s also full of Teen Heine and Teen Viktor Having Emotions At Each Other. So. Y’know. Win some, lose some, eh?

Click here for the full post on Anime Evo!


Did you know? Have you heard? The Josei Next Door has a tip jar!

The Royal Tutor – Episode 9: “The Price of the Past”

Yippee ki-yay, class.

After spending the past few episodes easing us into a more steady blend of goofy and serious, The Royal Tutor ups the ante once again with an action-packed tale of kidnappings and rescues that’s as surprisingly intense as it is utterly ridiculous. This episode really shouldn’t work, and there were times when I feared it wouldn’t, but by the end I was giggling and applauding in delight. This series is uniquely, unapologetically itself, and I’m so very glad for that.

Click here for the full post on Anime Evo!

Like Its Pint-Sized Protagonist, “The Royal Tutor” is More than Meets the Eye

Weekly posts couldn’t contain all my Royal Tutor love, so I wrote an article about it for Crunchyroll, too! All Heine all the time always!

When The Royal Tutor first came out, I had zero expectations. It looked like a fairly standard pretty-boys show, which can be real hit-or-miss, and “an adult teacher who looks like a child” didn’t sound like a promising starting point. Happily, the premiere immediately charmed me with its poker-faced protagonist, liberal use of chibis, and refusal to take its sparkly princes seriously. The Ouran High vibes were strong with this one, and I was cautiously optimistic.

By the second episode, I was hooked, and not just because the series was silly and cute and the characters were all good, good boys (although that sure didn’t hurt). The Royal Tutor also impressed me with the way it quietly wove in themes about judging people by appearances. Between all the chibi antics, the series argues that first impressions are often deceiving, and people are rarely who they initially seem.

Click here for the full post on Crunchyroll!