A hot pot for Uchouten Kazoku

38916414 by ヒコ

I will admit that Uchouten Kazoku is enticing visually; I have had an issue with PA Works’ previous endeavors which not only shared almost copied aesthetics, but also felt plastic to a point. Uchouten was a fresh breeze with stunning landscapes and, as illegenes pinpoints, the directing subtly matches seasons with situations and feelings.

I will also admit that it’s very rare to see a series dealing with family as its main theme. Family usually makes a brief appearance in certain settings in order to set obstacles and very rarely to be a positive supportive power. When it’s a central theme, things are most often than not idealized and sugarcoated.Uchouten avoids siding completely with these two extremes. Ajthefourth, for example, analyzes Yaichirou’s character development in relation to his brothers and parents and I can’t disagree with her about how suberb he was handled in the show.

But I still have many issues with the characters and the ideas the series tossed at us. PA Works has a remarkable record of annoying me one way or the other with what it produces the last few years -and I perhaps foolishly continue hoping they’ll change their bad habits. Since the series managed to make me feel frustrated enough, please bear with me being once in a while negative, especially since it was hailed so much.

38840319 by 乙

I think I’ll start with the irritating characters and then move on to the problematic concepts.

38917563_p2 by にときちFirst goes Professor Akadama, the elder tengu, who is, from the little we can infer, the master/teacher of both Benten and Yasaburou, and apparently held the leadership of a tengu clan in his early years. Except for his relationship with the Shimogamo tanuki father, of which we see very few things, his behavior to other individuals is nasty and bratty. And I’m afraid that you can’t really excuse him due to his age: firstly because I don’t think we can give pass to any kind of rude behavior and secondly because he has the same sour mug when he was seen in a flashback. He’s been quite full of himself all his life and now with his flying disability things just got worse. It’s more than annoying how everyone keeps saying that he really likes Yasaburou and appreciates what he does for him, when he only throws tantrums and acts childish. The director wanted to make sure, you see, we comprehend  that being a jerk means being fond of someone, thus shoved it down our throats at every chance.

Plus he’s a kidnapper of an underage girl (6 years old is stated on MAL) whom he probably fancied a bit too much to salivate for her up until his late years. I can assure you that I don’t have issues with the third age falling in love and having sexual needs; it’s the way he drools and demands attention like a kid from Benten that disgusts me. In the last episode his shameless alcoholism blends with his pervertedness to elicit an eyebrow-raising reaction from me, when he makes a mess of everything because the Professor of the Friday Fellows ‘sexually harassed’ her (a last minute lie from Yasaburou as a solution to the general mayhem going on). I bet he wouldn’t react like that for any other woman, but God forbid anyone from laying a hand on his delicious Benten.

37983475 by 水海Next is the femme fatale of the series, the former Suzuki Satomi, now Benten, a divine name for a creature as dangerous and capricious as a goddess. I liked her a lot at first, because she is both charming and a woman clever enough to use her captor and his knowledge to her advantage. She learns how to fly and gets miscellaneous magical presents from Akadama, and when the time is right, she gives him a ‘kick in the butt’ and returns to the human society again. I thought it was pretty cool how she broke free and turned the tables on the person who forcefully took her away.

Yet the cynicism and hypocricy that manifested in that period of her life made me dislike her guts. I can understand that survival and climbing the social ladder isn’t a way paved with roses, but that doesn’t equal necessarily with losing your humanity. Because eating tanuki, much more one with whom she was acquainted, isn’t like eating any other animal: she’s fully aware that tanuki are of equal intelligence as her and can talk in her language. The lavish illustration of her melancholy made me laugh, and I couldn’t be touched by her crocodilian tears at Yajirou’s well. She made choices that obviously had consequences. She could try persuading the Friday Fellows to feast on something else or she could quit and find another way to associate with influential people. Her theory ‘to eat is to love’ is sugarcoating of her -immoral- actions. Besides, her facial expressions at the banquet showed apathy, amusement or smugness and not a single shred of regret or sympathy.

Some bloggers speculate that the ending of the series implies she returned to her previous ‘foster’ family, thus changing her way of life. Despite that I can’t conclude from this if she broke her ties with the Friday Fellows completely and if as a character became a better person. I can’t also see as positive her re-association with her kidnapper (Stockholm Syndrome anyone?). It doesn’t seem very logical to me.

38545709 by 朱硝子Then, we have the sweet Kaisei, one of the Ebisugawas, who wants to be mysterious, and appears a tough girl. You’ll wonder why she’s here, since she was always so helpful and good-hearted. Yes, she saved and reassured the Shimogamo tanuki mother when it was raining and the claps of thunder scared the latter; she offered a helping hand to Yasaburou many times by transforming to various objects; she sneeked out of her house, informed Yasaburou of her father’s malicious plans, and fought the guards to help Yashirou escape. She’s strong in her gentleness and I won’t deny this. Nonetheless, I can’t help but think her as a fool for defending her brainless and mean brothers in front of others while dissing them privately, as if they are worthy of anyone’s respect. And that’s negligible in front of the fact that she kept silent about her father’s atrocious deeds, namely betraying his brother, setting him a trap and handing him over to humans to eat him.

It’s fiction, I know. She’s young, I know that, too. But keeping silent to such a serious crime means you become accomplice to it. A whole year passed, so she had enough time to act and either directly give in the criminal or indirectly spread a rumor (which with her transforming powers wouldn’t be that difficult). She could have found shelter to the Shimogamo family whom she liked a lot. She wouldn’t feel that bad among other ‘outcasts’? And in the end what was more important? Her pride or the punishment of such a serious crime? Her hesitance, cowardness, call it what you like, almost cost another tanuki life and the freedom of one more. Not to mention we don’t have an idea of what Soun would do to the other tanuki kept hostages.

(Continues next page)

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15 thoughts on “A hot pot for Uchouten Kazoku

  1. For me, I had a somewhat different interpretation of what family in Uchoten Kazoku is “about”, or at least one of the things. To me this was a story about four brother’s with problems, whose family helped them mitigate those problems.

    To illustrate: I’m of the opinion that Yasaburo is a sociopath* – he just doesn’t seem to care about anything, be it identity (as the child of Nise-emon or in a smaller scope what he looks like or even his gender), responsibility, vendettas (like with Professor Yadogawa), or even direct danger to himself (he deals with it in a very detached sort of way, if nothing else). The main exception? When his family gets involved, i.e. his “idiot blood”. When Ginkaku and Kinkaku are bullying Yashiro or when his mother gets kidnapped, he starts caring – worry and even anger right at the forefront. It takes Yasaburo’s family to make him really feel.

    The other brothers are in similar situations. Yajiro, though he remained a frog, was able to get out of the well and deal with some of his insecurities thanks to his family – he didn’t outright solve his problem, per se, but he did find a way around it. Yaichiro messes up when he needs not to the most, but he’ll still turn into a tiger and outright attack someone if they’re threatening his brothers. Yashiro, terrified as he is, outsmarts Ginkaku with Yajiro’s help.

    That’s how I saw it. Each brother had their own unique situations, but their blood, their family, helped them rise above. Or, to put it another way, when they’re with their family, they can be who they are and things will still work out.

    *As in, a deficiency of feeling and/or empathy – emotionally shallow. There may be a better word for it, but one way or another he’s so utterly detached and unengaged. . .unless, as mentioned, family is involved.

    P.S. I love the title!

    P.P.S. The multi-paged post idea is snazzy too – you’re doing a really great job with this place!

    P.P.P.S. My apologies if I’ve rehashed anything already mentioned – haven’t gone through the comment section here myself.

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    • Oh John, my friend, it’s been a while! Thanks for your comment! What you put on the table is quite interesting. But I still can’t accept how family that hurts and puts chains on us like in Yajirou’s case is a place we should hold dear, love and forgive no matter the cost. In the end even Soun didn’t get any punishment apart from not being elected (if my memory serves me right). No one actually apologized, no one recognized these problems and I find it unhealthy. My reflexes in such cases, most probably due to my experiences, hit immediately right in the metaphorical crotch of whatever made me wince.

      Glad you liked the new titled. I couldn’t come up with it on the first try.

      Thanks a lot for the compliments! I try my best 🙂 I and Neko-kun tend to write long-winded posts, so I tried to minimize the ‘fear’ the reader might feel, hehe. We still don’t get many comments or views most of the time, so I’m experimenting.

      Don’t worry. You didn’t but even if you did, I wouldn’t mind 😀

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  2. I’m sorry to continue commenting, but I just realized there was a second page to this and I love discussing with you your ideas about the show! Especially since not many of my friends are into this kind of discussion. ;;

    I’d have to say I was also a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more delving into the entire “crossdressing” thing, but I do have to say that overall I don’t think Uchouten Kazoku was disrespectful about the crossdressing point. I’ve discussed this same point with friends before and I think we all agreed that while there was one or two comments from the eldest brother that had us cringing a bit, in the whole nobody seemed to scorn or become angered at Yasaburou for crossdressing. His mother made no comment (seeing as she would also wear a “cosplay-esque” attire as you say) and the bartender also had no comments on Yasaburou’s yellow dress and umbrella attire. Overall, nobody seemed to be overly scornful or problematic about Yasaburou dressing as the “opposite gender” (excuse me for the cis-language). I think it’s a great thing to see considering that typically a character doing that would be considered “disgusting” in most animes I’ve encountered. I think that they avoided discussing it further, but with what they did do, it wasn’t very problematic or close to being transphobic(etc.). Still, I also would have liked to see a bit more on that. 🙂

    On the “idiot blood” line that’s presented throughout the entire series, I can definitely see where you’re coming from with your point. However, to me it seemed like an excuse that wasn’t really a wholehearted excuse. It was something that they would constantly go back to, but I don’t believe it was ever used to fully excuse a character’s actions. It think it was more sentimental to what their father would say, but none of the characters ever seemed to use it as a brush off for their errors. It almost feels like a point they use as their last true connection to their deceased father. They never seem to lose their own volition or being (seeing as they all followed their own paths and their own actions), but they used this line to connect themselves back to their family and back to their lineage so that they still have something that they can relate to. Yajirou became a frog and didn’t speak to his mother, Yasaburou ran away after the Fujin Raijin fan incident and did his own thing, the youngest had a job and was probably the closest to his mother, and the eldest had his own ambitions of chasing after the title of Nise-emon; but overall, none of them ever seemed to do what they did “because of their idiot blood” but rather they did what they did and feel sentimental that their father would probably say it’s because of their idiot blood. But they aren’t completely driven to do things or feel that the things they do are just because of blood. It’s similar to when I do something and my mother might say “that’s just like what your father would do.” That doesn’t mean I did it because of my bloodline, but what I did was reminiscent of something my father would do. But I can definitely see where you’re coming from, so maybe I just interpreted the use of the line differently!

    And of course I do agree that Yajirou did get kind of fucked over (for lack of better word) by his father’s actions. However, I think we both agreed that it was problematic for Yajirou to be holding a torch for a girl who’s much younger than him such as Kaisei. Regardless, it was pretty cruel of his father to sign off marriage papers between Kaisei and Yasaburou while knowing that Yajirou was having conflicting feelings about her.

    On the whole “what’s fun is good” line. Well, I don’t really have much to say. 🙂 I don’t think it’s meant to be taken so literally or as a life philosophy, like with most proverbs and quotes, but rather as something to think about when you’re doing something you love. I think it’s obvious that nobody would agree that a sociopath’s “fun with killing” is good, but I don’t think it’s supposed to extend that far. Like with all proverbs, there are exceptions, and this is only meant to be something that the average person can relate with. You like to watch anime and think it’s fun? That’s good! You prefer to do math and think it’s fun? That’s good! It’s a general philosophy that people shouldn’t be ashamed to like the things like. At least, that’s what I got out of it. ;; Although the context in which the motto was revealed waaaas a little tricky because they were driving around in their crazy train. But I think it’s like all proverbs where the good intentions of it can be twisted by the context in which people choose to use it (which I won’t deny I think the context that Uchouten used it in was a bit wrong for the message).

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    • No, no! I’m happy to see more comments!

      Yes, it wasn’t problematic as in stereotypical, but it felt like a bite of interest. It’s a serious issue which I’d like to see further explored in more non-lgbt series, too.

      The “idiot blood” as an excuse was very prominent when Yasaburou was explaining his relationship with the Professor from the Friday Fellows, the man who had eaten his father…

      About Yajirou x Kaisei you’re probably right- hadn’t thought the age difference. Do we have an official number?

      I’m very cautious with proverbs and the ‘wisdom’ of past ages (from different societies), much more sth that uses the word ‘good’ in it. I remember how when we started writing reviews in school and characterizations it was the first taboo to use ‘good’ anywhere. It’s so vague as an adjective. But yeah, back to the anime the association with the train was eyebrow-raising.

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      • Oh, I’m so glad, I thought I might be annoying you with the comments!

        But yes, I thoroughly agree! I think I’ve become so accustomed to never seeing LGBTQA+ representation that I’ve become indifferent to animes and other works never delving further into the subject. However, I’d really like to see more as well. I often watch things where they could have gone further with an LGBTQA+ plot but they don’t (and most likely due to fear of backlash or scorn from homophobic, etc. persons). It’s even more frustrating when you try to discuss the hints and undertones of it and people try to claim it doesn’t exist because all characters must be straight until proven otherwise!!!!! (sigh)

        Ah, yes, that’s very true. I think the messages they tried to convey in Uchouten aside from the whole “family” concept (which is already a dominant theme in Japan) were kind of skewed by how poorly they were placed.

        Not quite sure about the official age, but if I recall Yajirou himself stated that he was conflicted because of their age difference.

        Totally agree with your last point there! I think that many proverbs/messages with the word “good” or even “bad” in them become complicated due to the difference in what is considered good or bad. May I ask, have you ever studied Japanese culture or the language itself? 🙂 I was reading through other posts on your blog and you seem very proficient at bringing in cultural and historical references to why things may be the way they are!

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        • I didn’t remember that bit about the age difference to be honest.

          Sth I forgot mentioning in the post is the fact that Shimogamo mother remained nameless, which is quite upsetting, considering she wasn’t that small of a character.

          I’m afraid I haven’t studied Japanese language or culture. But what I do is read papers and books; you’ll see that I always credit my sources and try to make sure their valid. Generally, before a post is up on our blog -unless it’s a journal one-, it usually undergoes some researching, because we want to bring new things on the table and connect with the rest of the (ani)blogosphere, too.

          I’ve studied pedagogy (for Greek primary school) but I’m teaching foreign languages at an after-school language cram school, and Neko-kun is a graphic designer/illustrator with passion for history and politics.

          This post was one of the few rant posts I’ve published and as such it was mostly based on my feelings and logic rather than sources. I must admit that if you take in account the stories about tanuki in Japanese mythology, one may see the protagonists’ actions in another light. But even then I have issues, since we are meant to identify with the protagonists.

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  3. It’s peculiar to see such a capricious character named after Benzaiten – the historical Benzaiten found in Shinto and Buddhism is the Protector of Law, and a Tenbu. She is occasionally depicted atop a white tanuki, so that would be a direct connection. I’ll withhold comment on the character in the show, however, until I see the show in full.

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  4. I’d have to say I agree with Erif on most of their points.

    Although there are problematic themes, I don’t think Uchouten makes light of any of them. Problematic themes aside, I too got the impression that you were scrutinizing the show because you disagreed with characters which…is baffling, to say that least. I do agree that Professor Akadama could have been reprimanded more for his actions, but everything he did do was at least consistent. It may just be a difference in interpretation (which is fine!), but I felt that (especially towards the latter episodes) that the relationship between Professor Akadama and Benten was more familial than hostile/sexual/etc. Benten’s kidnapping isn’t condoned in any way, but I don’t believe she regrets the kidnapping itself. Psychologically this can be viewed as Stockholm Syndrome (her going back to him and helping him); however, I don’t believe this situation is the same due to the lack of abuse in any form in the Benten/Akadama relationship. You claim that there’s no context to base this off of, but I disagree. I think basic context shows you what you need to see: Benten is a woman of purpose and, in your words, charming and clever. She has never hidden her feelings from Yasaburou about wanting to eat him up, so it seems highly unlikely (just in that context) that if she was truly abused by Akadama or had bad experiences with him, she would have retaliated by now. I think that she did just as you said, and used her captor to her advantage, but she does not hold any hostile feelings towards him.

    Furthermore, I also think it’s kind of ridiculous to paint such a negative opinion of how Kaisei was handled a character. I reserve your right to your opinion, but I’d just like to state mine: I believe Kaisei was handled perfectly. Many children when faced with a situation like that would not tell anyone about it. Kaisei recognized her fault, she recognized that her father messed up, and she admitted to his sins in the end. She amends her errors, which is more than anyone could ask for. She is a character who struggles with this burdening secret, and eventually is able to make good on her wrongdoings. This is…character growth? Very minor, to say the least, but she didn’t regress, she progressed? I don’t understand how that indicates bad directing. This is once again, almost as though you’re disapproving of her actions and saying that means it’s bad directing…she is a character who grows and who shows admittance of her errors (and everything works out in the end anyway), so why is that bad directing? Disapproval of her actions–such as the vagueness, the telling it too late, and the not selling out her father–is not the same as disapproval of the directing.

    I won’t even get in my word on the show not being “symbolic” because I disagree immensely. The story may be straightforward but that does not denote a lack of further depth and analysis. But yeah, I really do feel as though you’re calling bad directing on your personal opinion of character’s actions. I personally love Benten’s character because she’s flawed, she’s two-faced at times, she’s a hypocrite, and she’s also a mask atop her old human self. You don’t. That’s okay, but don’t blame that on bad directing or poor anything on the creators part unless it’s a problematic issue, which I’m sure you’re familiar with.

    Anyway, it’s nice to hear a difference of opinion regardless. I personally really loved Uchouten Kazoku compared to everything else I watched during the summer season. I’m also looking forward to seeing if the protagonist of Nagi no Asukara starts stripping away his sexist tendencies. They can get really annoying. ;;

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    • Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting 🙂

      “I too got the impression that you were scrutinizing the show because you disagreed with characters which…is baffling”
      Won’t you scrutinize Nagi no Asukara if the MC remains sexist? (Btw catch up with it, because he improves a lot). Characters act a certain way based on a script and the director’s decisions. These actions or non-actions say something about the ideas of the show and its writer/director.

      “I do agree that Professor Akadama could have been reprimanded more for his actions, but everything he did do was at least consistent.”
      Glad we agree. And yes, he was consistent. Wasn’t he though quite one dimensional, too?

      “the relationship between Professor Akadama and Benten was more familial than hostile/sexual/etc”
      Yes, we are in a fantastical setting, but since the human society remains fundamentally the same, I really see the emotional response to the kidnapping absurd and disconcerting?

      “She has never hidden her feelings from Yasaburou about wanting to eat him up, so it seems highly unlikely (just in that context) that if she was truly abused by Akadama or had bad experiences with him, she would have retaliated by now.”
      She obviously though doesn’t share the same relationship with Yasaburou and with Akadama. Different relationships dictate different reactions. Akadama has given her the magic, which creates a bond of obligation with him, a huge thing in Japanese society. That’s why I complain about the lack of flashback, which could be enlightening. Also, sorry if I’m wrong, but it seems you ignore how abuse works: not only can it take many forms but when it’s exercized on a child, the child also might not even recognize it, and that’s if society gives hints that abuse isn’t the standard. Children keep denying abuse for the sake of their sanity many many times.

      “Disapproval of her actions–such as the vagueness, the telling it too late, and the not selling out her father–is not the same as disapproval of the directing.”
      When and how something is said or executed during a show is the writer’s and director’s job as far as I know. Plus, I never claimed her actions weren’t consistent based on the theme of the show. Since forgiving family (no matter what) appears to be running throughout the series.

      “The story may be straightforward but that does not denote a lack of further depth and analysis.”
      I don’t argue this. Nevertheless this is not Utena, Mawaru Penguindrum or FLCL. What I say is that you can’t take the whole narrative as an allegory.

      “Anyway, it’s nice to hear a difference of opinion regardless. I personally really loved Uchouten Kazoku compared to everything else I watched during the summer season.”
      I’m happy we had this conversation :3 I hope I clarified my POV. I don’t intend to spoil it for anyone (plus when you love sth, you do whatever someone may say) and of course I understand that different people have different tastes 🙂

      Let us meet again in the comment section of a more positive post, ne?

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      • I thought I should at least return your comments!

        “Won’t you scrutinize Nagi no Asukara if the MC remains sexist?”
        Oh, yes, I wholeheartedly would! But like most say, I do believe I could like something for what it is as a whole, but still recognize and scrutinize the faults.

        I’ll spiral that into my next point which is that: yes, I most definitely agree that the situation between Benten/Akadama could have been elaborated on more. I believe since they are not the central focus, we don’t actually get much further into them. At its core, Uchouten did present us with some barely-expanded-upon characters, but I do believe they managed to keep us interested despite that.

        “Also, sorry if I’m wrong, but it seems you ignore how abuse works: not only can it take many forms but when it’s exercized on a child, the child also might not even recognize it, and that’s if society gives hints that abuse isn’t the standard.”
        Oh my gosh, I’m extremely sorry if that’s how I came off as. I agree with your point and there are definitely multiple forms of abuse and reactions to the abuse. I still don’t quite think it was in Benten’s character to have been scarred by the abuse. Regardless, it’s absurd she doesn’t recognize/acknowledge that her kidnapping was both wrong and disgusting on Prof. Akadama’s part. And it’s crazy that nobody seems to reprimand him for the kidnapping!!

        I still believe that the characters themselves stayed true to what they were meant to represent/do in the show. If that’s reflective of the writers/director or not, I wouldn’t actually know unless I knew more about them. I think the show overall didn’t have extremely problematic themes when the situation between Akadama and Benten is removed; however, since the situation /is/ present, it’s good to acknowledge that that could have been handled better.

        But yes, I definitely agree! 🙂 I don’t think that there needs to be a black & white, hate or love it. I think it’s good to talk about problematic themes/errors in a show you love because it shows you were paying attention.

        So far I really think the MC of Nagi no Asukara is starting to show signs of improvement in his ways (particularly with apologizing on his knees and trying to understand others better). I’m hoping to see more out of the show, of course!

        Let’s definitely meet again in another discussion! 🙂

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  5. My problem with this article is that you’re claiming personal biases as plot failings, and that character flaws make bad characters, which isn’t at all the case. Take, for example, when you say “I don’t think we can give pass to any kind of rude behavior.” This kind of statement suggests that all characters need to be good, kind-hearted people, and those who aren’t should be looked down upon or scrutinized. I wouldn’t chalk these up as flaws, but rather as personal dissatisfaction; if something rubs you the wrong way I’m not one to argue about it, but to say that the creators are at fault would be false. I mean, I can come up with logical counter arguments to all these claims about characters:

    Regarding Benten, I think you’ve got her character all wrong. You may think Akadama’s kidnapping of her was dastardly and whatnot (more on that later), but their relationship was never that of the captor and captured; rather, it was one of master and student. She “enthusiastically raced up the ladder from human to tengu” and got rid of her master because she didn’t need him anymore, not because she needed to escape. Sure, climbing up the social ladder and achieving power and status may not “necessarily” equal losing your humanity, but in this case it does, plain and simple. From the moment she gained her wings she became something entirely different than human, and she was glad it happened the way it did. But with power comes sacrifice, and that, I assume, was the cause for most of her grief.

    Back to Akadama: yeah, he’s rude, proud, and brash. He thinks he’s better than everybody. That’s his character, and while I don’t think we should really argue that as a point of contention, I wouldn’t say the director is shoving anything down our throats. He’s just having Akadama act in character, regardless of whether you think he’s doing it to show affection, and having him act any other way would break his character. But to readdress the kidnapping of Benten, I think we need to look at it from a slightly different perspective. That is, the perspective of a myth, because essentially, Akadama is a god: a proud, all-powerful being. Like many mythological creatures – Zeus being the first that comes to mind – he claimed what he lusted for. I don’t think we can say it was completely malicious, however, since he took her under his tutelage, which essentially Benten had no problems with, and only when Benten left Akadama in the dust did her start vying for her attention. You may think this vying is perverted and disgusting, but I don’t know why this is a bad thing, he’s smitten for her and will do anything to be with her. Pathetic, but fits perfectly in the context of the show. Not to mention, Akadama’s kidnapping of Benten was almost entirely symbolic; man has been wanting to fly for centuries. Just ask Icarus.

    And to ridicule Kaisei would be to ignore the entire point of this series, which is family. If Kaisei had just immediately denied her family and persevered in the face of evil she would have undermined the most important theme of the show, and that would be bad storytelling. She defends her brothers because they’re her family; she hesitates to act because she is young and confused, and she doesn’t know whether to act against her family for good or support them for worse. In the end she chooses the latter, so this proves she’s not an evil character. Again, you may find this unacceptable, but it makes perfect sense within the context and themes of the show.

    It basically boils down to this: you can’t confuse flaws with subjective opinions.

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    • First of all, thanks for taking so much of your time to comment.

      Let’s begin from the end: “It basically boils down to this: you can’t confuse flaws with subjective opinions.”
      I don’t think I ever said that my opinion is absolute. Opinions are de facto subjective. And so are flaws. For example, a character might treat everyone kind and for you might be the best character ever, but I might find her/him flawed since (s)he does this at her/his expence. Why can’t flaws equal personal distaste?

      If it’s the title which gives you the impression I talk objectively, then I should defend myself that I couldn’t come up with anything better and not overly long either.

      Now your complaint on a first level is that I am unfair by claiming the directing wasn’t good. The only two places where I’ve explicitly stated so were about Akadama and the ‘idiot blood’ phrase (the latter explained in the 2nd page of this post). About Akadama I insist that his ‘benevolence’ is shoved down our throats by having other people tell over and over again he is grateful and a good person, while we only see the opposite. I believe that most people agree that good directing is ‘showing not telling’, so…

      Generally, aside from the incident of the Souichirou’s death, where his family is involved, the other characters are quite one-dimensional for we see very little through their past. We don’t witness any scene where Akadama shows genuine kindness, much more his interactions with Benten (in order to perceive the true face of their relationship; just because she was willing to take the lessons he offered, her kidnapping isn’t cancelled). That is of course related to the 13-episode format, but a good director knows how makes the best out of what (s)he has. Otherwise they should have chosen a different route.

      “character flaws make bad characters, which isn’t at all the case”
      This is straw man argument. Not giving a pass on a behavior doesn’t mean we should have only ‘perfect’ characters; it means though that what the director does with them is of importance. Let me use Utena as an example again. Utena is full of flawed characters, yet I adore it! Why? Because there’s no illusion that every single one of them isn’t flawed, and on the ground that they grow up. Even the latest P.A. Works’ project, Nagi no Asukara, creates a complex MC who isn’t just another -sexist- jerk (and let’s remember he’s adolecent and not a person of age, supposedly mature) and his friends reprimand him at least once for how insensitive he is. This doesn’t apply here, whereas a single call out to Akadama’s boorishness would be enough.

      “You may think this vying is perverted and disgusting, but I don’t know why this is a bad thing, he’s smitten for her and will do anything to be with her. Pathetic, but fits perfectly in the context of the show.”
      The context of the show is family interrelations, and has nothing to do with sexual appetize or even romance (Yajirou’s troublesome love for Kaisei is more of a fact than a theme).

      “Akadama’s kidnapping of Benten was almost entirely symbolic; man has been wanting to fly for centuries. Just ask Icarus.”
      The show isn’t symbolic as a whole; it’s a pretty straightforward story. So this your interpretation is yours only. I don’t imply that your interpretation is of less value, but I suggest it doesn’t really make a point. It doesn’t validate the kidnapping and it doesn’t proove anything related to Benten.

      “She “enthusiastically raced up the ladder from human to tengu””
      What I’ve already brought up in the previous paragraphs where are views clash. Plus we never delve deeper about the incident she was involved in, which led to Akadama’s inability to fly.

      “Sure, climbing up the social ladder and achieving power and status may not “necessarily” equal losing your humanity, but in this case it does, plain and simple.”
      Plain and simple? When she herself plays between those identities whenever it’s convenient for her, meaning she’s still human? Becoming aloof isn’t something an individual can’t control and she willingly entered the Friday Fellows; from what little it’s said it was her choice. I won’t repeat what I already wrote in the main part of the post. I find her grief utterly hypocritical.

      “In the end she chooses the latter, so this proves she’s not an evil character. Again, you may find this unacceptable, but it makes perfect sense within the context and themes of the show.”
      I never said she was evil. I don’t see everything in b & w… I can accept that Kaisei’s comment of mine is more ethical and I’ll give you right to an extend. My issue is that I largely disagree with the ‘message’ of the whole story about family and I swear that when I got into this series I was very positive about it, in view of the show wanting to defy tradition in the first few episodes; alas I was proven wrong. Returning to Kaisei I still believe her case could be handled much better. She denies warning Yasaburou with apt data in the public baths and is very vague about everything. She does so only when it’s too late. And here the talk goes back to the director and the one who wrote the scenario: obviously he felt unable/ wasn’t competent enough to take any other path. If something glaring isn’t done when the logic and natural flow of the show dictates, then what else is it than weakness?

      Again, many thanks for engaging in conversation with me 🙂

      Like

  6. That is some messed up family values right there. I guess Uchoten is one of those shows that if I pick it up, it’ll somehow overwhelm me with its bizarre propaganda of what is right and wrong.

    Like

    • Morals are always complicated and differ from culture to culture, much more from person to person. In the final episode at least we saw that many traditions don’t work out, they don’t bear any meaning any longer, and one of the Friday Fellows decided that he didn’t want to eat tanuki anymore. This was something from nothing. But yes, the familial ideals are disagreeable, propaganda or not.

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