Summer 2013 Slaparound: Uchoten Kazoku Week 2

Drew: Uchoten Kazoku might seem to some to be a far-out series. For me, it’s attacking fairly familiar territory, just doing it using tanuki stuck in frog-shaped polymorphs instead of humans in mundane lifestyles. I think it’s less artsy fare with a message and more much closer to a character-driven slice-of-life drama that happens to involve smooth, fancy animation. And I’m loving it so far. It’s obviously still got places to go and things to develop, but I think it’s a 7/10 if the two episodes that came out so far were a stand-alone ova series, which is pretty good in my book.

Sam: I think episode 2 was a lot of what I expected/wanted out of episode 1; more energy and even more creativity, if that second one was even possible. I really like the details and the little things; the way that the older brother gets around with the mechanical rickshaw, the tone that the mom uses in order to impress people at her pool hall, the way that the two uptight brothers both act smart and are dumb as rocks. All of these little things really make the show a lot of fun, and improve upon the main themes, which are fairly solid on their own, if not completely developed as of now. I think the next episode might improve it even more, and I await it eagerly.

Drew: You did mention last week that you were expecting more energy. As someone who liked the first episode immensely, I was also expecting it, but sort of worried in the back of my head as to whether there would be a trade-off and we’d lose some of that atmosphere. Did we? Nope. Turns out the scene transitions in this show are oh-so-flawless; I scarcely noticed that we had switched from a tiger swinging a lion around by its junk to a really serious “Oh no, mom’s missing!” plot. Making the flow feel natural is the most important part of a good slice-of-life, imo. I guess, I’m classifying it as a slice-of-life. Does it feel the same to you guys?

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Will: Honestly, I still don’t know what to think of this show. I’m liking it, but there’s something I still don’t quite get, and I’m not sure what it is. I’d call it a slice of life so far, but I really want to see where it goes. It’s nice-looking for sure, and I dig slice of life, but I still can’t wrap my head around it totally. I don’t know. this second episode I did enjoy more than the first, felt more cohesive, I couldn’t figure out what the first episode was trying to do or be.

Sam: I think it is in the genre of slice of life, though I’m not sure that that is what I would use to describe it. To me, slice of life is slower paced and more realistic, while this show so far is much more energetic and creative. It does show many similarities to slice of life though and i think it is actually a pretty good example of it; the way that the father’s death was addressed was really well done and got across a lot of emotional material well in only a few minutes. For a show about a family of tanukis running around in Kyoto, this show is actually pretty contemplative, as shown by the brother stuck as the frog and his acceptance of his fate. What did you guys think of the more contemplative aspects of the show so far?

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Drew: I just imagine all the conversations of that type as being between two 20-something guys drawn in pencil-sketch with stubbly beards outside the bookstore where they work as they sit on crates and take their smoking break. The intra-family dialogue is very, very down to earth, and the atmosphere fits it. I think it’s the core appeal of the show, with the zany tanuki politics aspect being a B-plot that could nonetheless carry a lesser show.

Will: It does conversation quite well. I guess my problems with the show are basically that I wish it were a different show; I want it to be more slow, contemplative, and atmospheric. I don’t know, I think I’m just disappointed that it isn’t Mushishi or Hidamari Sketch. The conversations are great, but I think this series still has more to show us. I just get that feeling, that it’s just been setting up so far. I’m really looking forward to it now, which i couldn’t say after the first episode.

Drew: I’ve pretty much said what I want to say about this episode, except for the fact that the fixed camera takes were handled in a deliciously tight way. It really showed up in the scene were the main character went to the well to meet his frog brother. I just love stuff like that.

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Sam: This show is still great and I think that it will get even better.

Drew: I think that about sums it up. Until next week!

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