Ideologically speaking now, I was left disappointed by what the series did or better didn’t do with crossdressing. It was introduced in the first few episodes by both the mischievious Yasaburou and his mother who liked playing billiard in her prince attire. Her outfit fits more in the eccentric description (since it’s a particular costume, similar to the ones cosplayers adorn), but Yasaburou’s sailor fuku is much more casual in comparison and closer to crossdressing in every day situations by an agender or genderqueer person. Alas, Yasaburou was only scolded by his eldest brother, and that was it. The ‘trap’ outfit was used briefly to indicate Yasaburou’s character and will to be defiant towards the tanuki society and its traditions. No further views on gender, and probably a bait to a specific audience. It was shrugged off as another manifestation of tanuki’s idiot blood.
Talking about that idiot blood of the tanuki, I bet one could make a great drinking game with it while marathoning the series. A motif must have a meaning; in Utena, for instance, the recycled footage of the stage entrance and subsequent transformation was -apart from budget saving- both symbolic of eternity and revol-ution as well as a signifier of a mahou shoujo series. Here this phrase is abused as panaceia to all symptoms. If as a writer you blame everything on idiocy, which is honestly such a poor excuse, you are trying to cover up your weak character building and interaction. The whole idea about ‘blood’ being the reason behind the actions of the characters is problematic as it takes away part of their agency!
The absurdity related to ‘blood’ continues with the saying ‘Blood is thicker than water’. Just because it’s something passed down on generations, it doesn’t mean it holds truth. That is Japan for us, though, ne? Emphasis on the family above all else (minus the nation which comes first). Family is the first community we come to know, but it’s also the first to cause us problems and hurt us (e.g. domestic violence). Usually exactly due to the close ties, relatives avoid helping you when it matters the most. Thankfully, Soun seems to makes a case for how this proverb is untrue. There’s more though.
The Shimogamo father doesn’t let love-smitten Yajirou leave to some place else, even though he was the one who signed the marriage contract between Kaisei and Yasaburou and caused his second eldest child such a pain. Children don’t choose their parents and relatives, much more their life, thus it’s funny how they are supposed to be tied with them with an invisible chain. I found the whole situation too unfair for the poor Yajirou. And at the end of the day one way or another the children have to leave the parental house. Family is for me the people you choose to be; those that can understand you, those that support you, those who respect your feelings and choices and don’t try to impose on you how to live.
Lastly, I’d like to address the motto ‘What is fun is good’. I hope everyone understands this is oversimplification and kinda dangerous to have as a compass for your life. Fun can be killing someone (if you are a sociopath); fun can be laughing at other people’s misery; fun can be getting wasted from alcohol (and then doing things you don’t remember); fun can be gambling (and then getting bankrupt); fun can be vandalising parts of your town *cough cough crazy train cough* or eating something you could avoid to and basically you shouldn’t *cough Benten & Friday Fellows cough*.
Thanks for reading!
Notes: Title changed from “The flaws of Uchouten Kazoku” to “A hot pot for Uchouten Kazoku” because it’s a more creative title and in order to dissolve any suspicion of objectivity.