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.

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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!

A Dream of One’s Own: Finding a home outside femininity in Chihayafuru

Cards against gender conformity.

Chihayafuru is one of my all-time favorite anime series, so you can imagine my surprise and delight when Kodansha announced they’d licensed the manga for an English-language digital release. While devouring the first volume, I once again fell in love with this endearing, intense, emotional rollercoaster of a sports series about three friends in the world of competitive karuta–and was also struck for the first time by how insightfully Chihaya’s childhood arc depicts the plight of the “tomboy.”

Sometimes wrenching but ultimately inspiring, Chihayafuru’s first volume quietly challenges traditional gender norms and offers the hope of a supportive community to anyone who’s ever felt like they didn’t quite fit society’s gendered expectations of who they’re “supposed” to be.

Click here for the full post on Anime Feminist!


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

Fan vs Service: WorldEnd vs Hajime no Ippo

When bad frames happen to good people.

When I learned that this season’s new anime, WorldEnd (or SukaSuka), was based on a light novel about an adult man becoming a caretaker for a group of under-18 girls, I was understandably wary given anime’s less-than-glowing track record when handling age gaps and power dynamics. Fortunately, WorldEnd’s leading man, Willem, is (so far) completely uninterested in romancing the local teens. While 15-year-old Chtholly does have an obvious crush on him, Willem sees her and the rest of the girls as students, patients, or younger family members. He uses his power to help and guide, never to take advantage.

These are all good things, and a large part of why the pensive found-family story at the heart of WorldEnd has been so compelling to me. It’s also a large part of why a particular scene in Episode 2, “late autumn night’s dream,” stands out as so uncomfortable and out-of-place. Willem may not be a creeper, but some of the people creating him sure seem to be.

Click here for the full post on Anime Feminist!

Love in the Time of ClassicaLoid

Get your ‘ship on.

Welp, they’ve done it again. The creative team who assured us that being a girl was a state of mind rather than a state of body brought that same chipper progressivism to their silly romance episode, and they did not disappoint. ClassicaLoid may be first-and-foremost a wacky comedy about the importance of community and the transformative power of music, but it’s also proven itself adept at quietly challenging cultural norms about gender and sexuality. Guess it’s true you should never judge a book by its cover—or a series by its goofy premise.

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Speak, Fan, and Enter! Heroes & Gatekeepers in “Akiba’s Trip”

For the love of trivial pursuits.

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Akiba’s Trip is an up-front, silly fanservice show that takes its ogling about as seriously as it does its story. While I’m not usually a fan of the ‘service, Akiba’s Trip has charmed me with its enthusiastic characters and overall joyful tone as it takes its audience on a wacky, loving tour of the many hobbies and fandoms that make up the Akihabara district. And, unlike many series about nerd culture, Akiba’s Trip and its cast are positive-minded dorks more than happy to share their passions with others.

Click here for the full post on Crunchyroll!

She and Her Cat and Her Story

Adulthood, family, and the purrpose-driven life.

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She and Her Cat -everything flows- is a four-episode short which aired this time last year and quietly earned the honor of being 2016’s Show That Turned Me Into a Puddle of Tears. It’s the story of a young woman (Miyu) struggling to make a place for herself in the working world outside of college, as told through the eyes of the cat who’s been with her since childhood. Graceful, charming, wrenching, and hopeful, She and Her Cat is an understated, emotional gem. 10/10, would let wreck me again.

It’s also a refreshing take on the traditional female coming-of-age tale, which so often focuses on heterosexual romance and the importance of a man to help the woman achieve happiness or fulfillment. Instead, Miyu’s story and struggles are related to her career and—more importantly—to her relationships with two women.

Click here for the full post on Anime Feminist!