“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.
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.
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.