The Eccentric Family Season 2 Series Review: How Much Trouble Can One Tanuki Get Into?

Overview:

As I went to write this, it occurred to me that I have yet to actually review season 1 of this show so I really must bump that up my priority list given reviewing season 2 without season 1 just seems odd. That said, season 2 picks up the story in the year following the events of season 1 and the tanuki are still trying to elect a trick magister and Yasaburo’s way too serious brother Yaichiro is still trying to follow in his father’s footsteps and assume the role. However, Yasaburo is not content to just have one thing going so once again he is interfering in tengu and human affairs as things get more and more out of control. I reviewed this week to week so if you are interested in my individual episode thoughts, click here.

Review:

The Eccentric Family is one of those very odd anime where there is a story and you could boil it down fairly simply in terms of the main plot, and yet that is almost incidental to what you are actually going to be watching. Season 2 follows the same format as season 1, in that we’ll mostly be following Yasaburo on his rambles around as he stirs up trouble and mischief, offers ‘advice’, and generally seeks out trouble for the sake of having a bit of fun. That said, season 2 seems to have decided it was time for a number of the cast members to grow up and so we have far more focus on romance and relationships outside of the family than in the previous season. There’s also a few quite dark moments (though season 1 did deal with the fall out of their father getting eaten so even though it is a comedy it isn’t as though it wasn’t always dealing with tragedy in one form or another).

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Because of the large cast and the rambling nature of the plot, it is more or less impossible to summarise the story given any summary is going to leave out massive amounts of subplot, all of which come back into the main storyline eventually. Basically season 2 follows yet another attempt at tanuki society electing a new trick magister only this time things seem to be going relatively smoothly for Yaichiro with almost no-one in tanuki society standing against him. The issue comes that Akadama-sensei has refused to be the tengu representative and has instead appointed Benten (who eats tanuki) and so the tanuki ask the recently returned not-tengu (his own insistence), Nidaime, to oversee the election instead, which really upsets Benten. Clearly that’s not all that is going on given we have a trip to hell, the return of the banished uncle, not one but two budding romances, the Friday Fellows seeking out yet another tanuki to eat, and multiple other storylines just bubbling along. Despite the sheer amount of content this show packs in it never feels overly rushed and even when things initially feel random, you know they will make sense eventually so you kind of just wait for them to twist back into the main narrative and then it all just kind of clicks.

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Basically, if you liked season 1 and enjoyed this eccentric cast walking around and having off beat conversations while stuff happens and they react, then season 2 gives you more of the same with a slightly more mature tone at times and with Yasaburo having a few more moments of reflection given even he realises that eventually his actions are going to get him killed.

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My favourite part of season 2, other than the music and the character designs which I loved in season 1 as well, was the inclusion of Nidaime. Any scene where he and Benten appeared together was fantastic. The tension between those characters and the occasional explosive encounters were well worth waiting for though I regret that they didn’t get a chance to meet in the aftermath as it would be interesting to see where they’ve ended up after that final encounter.

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Benten is still a fantastic support character in her own right, stealing literally every scene she is in, but this season she isn’t alone amongst a seemingly male dominated cast as Kaisei and Gyokuran (the two tanuki love interests) definitely step into the spot light at times (and isn’t it nice that these fool brothers are finding some fairly sensible matches to help keep them from going too far).

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The one complaint I would raise is that the ‘magic’ seems to have gone missing from a lot of this season. Yes, the tanuki still do transform but this is for the most part no big deal. There are a few encounters between Nidaime and Benten, however the last of them ends in hair pulling and barely anything of note (other than a storm being summoned and how jaded am I that this barely registered as magical). Basically, season 1 had a sense of wonder about the supernatural even as it worked to integrate the magical world into the city of Kyoto. Season 2 makes everything fairly common place and a lot of the wonder has just kind of fizzled. Admittedly, it was replaced by higher emotional stakes but I missed that feeling as I watched this season.

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If you’ve never given The Eccentric Family a go, don’t start with season 2. It assumes an understanding of the events of season 1 and the relationships between most of the characters are already pre-established and assumed knowledge. That said, this is one anime worth trying because it is kind of zany fun with a lot of drama thrown in and certainly feels a bit different.


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The Eccentric Family Season 2 Episode 12

Review:

Pretty sure I’d given up expecting a Nidaime/Benten face off and yet that’s what we get this week after Benten ‘allows’ Yasaburo to crash the flying bus straight into Nidaime’s home. Yasaburo really does think on his feet and yet he never thinks long term.

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Needless to say, Nidaime’s reaction to the destruction of his home is fairly explosive, but only after a sulk session. It’s probably where we see his true character coming out for the first time beneath his reserved exterior. He’s someone who when he doesn’t get his way packs the toys into the toy box and stomps off, and that kind of explains everything about him and why he left Kyoto in the first place. Just in case we weren’t clear though, they do give us a flash back to the fight against Akadama-Sensei that started it all and to be honest, that was kind of unnecessary given all the pieces had really come into place without it and all that seemed to do was break the pace of what was otherwise a fairly brilliant final episode.

That said, the fight against Benten was both cool and lame simultaneously. I never expected a fight between the two to result in hair pulling and biting and that just seemed all kinds of childish, particularly when Nidaime set Benten’s hair on fire (though you can’t say she didn’t deserve it at that point).

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Anyway, Akadama-Sensei returns after Benten is run off, makes a statement that indicates that Yasaburo is no longer excommunicated, and then has words with a crying Nidaime who has finally calmed down enough to see the destruction of his own home.

And that’s it. Crisis averted. Still, there’s all the loose ends to tie up including a tanuki wedding and so the final moments of the episodes have Yasaburo bouncing around to catch up with literally every character of importance so they can all have their moment of closure. That said, Yasaburo and Kaisei are too cute together so hopefully they work it out so he can actually look at her eventually given they’ve finally agreed they are going to get married one day. However, it is Nidaime’s words to Yasaburo that really sum everything up.

And as Yasaburo says, that clearly a result of his fool’s blood.

So the second season of this very odd show brings us right back where we started with the tanuki seeking a fun life, the tengu doing tengu things, and the humans being for the most part irrelevant to the actual plot and merely a minor hindrance in the grander scheme of things. I’ll do a full series review shortly.

The Eccentric Family is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Eccentric Family Season 2 Episode 11

Review:

It is all happening this episode with all of the many little plots coming together fantastically for what looks like a great ending next week (or whenever I get to see it). Despite talking trains, evil imposters, caged tanuki, dreams where sons converse with their dead father, transforming giant tigers, and exploding factories, the strangest point this episode still goes to seeing Benten crying.

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Her relationship with Yasaburo has always been ambiguous and this point doesn’t do much to clarify given she clearly isn’t trying to save him but she will mourn the possibility of him being eaten in a very strange mirror of the nightmare he had in the last episode. Though, it isn’t as though Benten did anything to stop the inevitable rescue effort either.

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With everything starting to come out into the opening and the family ties being stronger than ever, I am really looking forward to how this resolves. This show understood what made season 1 special to those who watched it and has managed to really capture those parts in this sequel without feeling too much like a duplication (though there have definitely been some moments where it feels a bit like an echo).

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Now if I could get a Nidaime/Benten showdown I’d be over the moon but given how the story has unfolded it doesn’t seem like that is on the cards.

The Eccentric Family is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Eccentric Family Season 2 Episode 10

Review:

This show continues to charm with its pleasant character interactions and exchanges even while it drops some pretty big bomb shells in this episode. Things have been heating up for a while and a lot of the plot threads have started to come together but now we get the big revelation for this season and it is definitely matching up with the expectations season 1 gave us.

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Not the revelation but a line that was too cute to ignore.

This episode is dealing with the fall out of Yasaburo’s choices in convincing the Nidaime to be the tanuki representative when the Trick Master is chosen rather than Benten. Admittedly, the logic behind that makes sense because even though Yasaburo kind of likes Benten, she does eat Tanuki so it would be kind of hard for them to have her around. Not to mention they all turn into furballs at the sight of her. Still she isn’t exactly someone you want looking for you.

Still, the real revelation comes through the second eldest brother visiting some branch family on his journey. I wasn’t paying enough attention to that particular plot point thinking it was only a minor concern but they just revealed something that is literally going to change everything about how this season wraps up and needless to say it has to do with the whole election of the Trick Master and the feud between the families that they so neatly tucked away a few episodes ago.

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But before the full weight of that reveal sinks in, Kaisei reappears in front of Yasaburo. While part of her presence there just reinforces what we had just learned, the next moments, while not unexpected, certainly escalate the tension of this series. They are clearly going for a very dramatic finish and we’ve not got all the key players in place.

I’m just hoping they don’t actually eat a tanuki.

The Eccentric Family is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Eccentric Family Season 2 Episode 9

Review:

This show continues to demonstrate it really understands the bonds between its characters and it is that spiderweb of relationships and the stain that gets put on certain strands that makes this episode great. Admittedly, by itself it isn’t particularly impressive, but having seen all the pieces getting put into place leading up to this episode and then the episode terminating with one of the more dramatic entrances of the series and setting up a face off between Benten and Nidaime which we’ve essentially wanted since meeting Nidaime this season, plus placing the Tanuki right in the middle of it all just kind of makes everything work.

As usual Yasaburo is getting in way over his head and being cautioned by his brother, however he plows on with his plan though I don’t think even he realised just how big a storm he was in the process of stirring up.

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As viewers we’ve known that the Nidaime and Benten had to have had some backstory even though up until now they haven’t admitted to knowing each other previously. We’ve also known that a show down between the two was more or less inevitable and that when it finally happened it would be explosive. This episode leaves us poised for that show down but I can’t help but think they may delay a little longer, possibly fill in the back story or choose to go a different path. This show has never been about direct confrontations and has had a fairly interesting tendency to have situations resolve in unusual ways so I’m actually looking forward to the next choice. Whether I get a fight between these characters or not, I’m sure to be entertained.

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The Eccentric Family is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Eccentric Family 2 Episode 6

Review:

I don’t know how the Nidaime fits in yet but I do know that if we wanted to start seeing some of the plot threads of this fairly meandering show come together, episode 6 was a good turning point.

Yasaburo visits the professor who is trying to interfere with the Friday Club and defend Tanuki’s from getting added to a hot pot but the club members have started a nasty rumour about him at the university. All this leads to Yasaburo visiting a hot spring where the Friday Club are meant to be meeting and we have an encounter with Yasaburo’s uncle who hasn’t really been seen since the last season when he tried to hand over Yasaburo’s older brother to be turned into a hot pot.

His uncle hasn’t improved given he’s now trying to join the Friday Club and kicks his nephew into a painting of hell.

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So with a lot of these returning characters and ideas from season 1, as well as Yasaburo’s ongoing complicated relationship with Benten, this episode felt like things were starting to come together and get a bit more serious. Or at least as serious as this show ever takes itself as Yasaburo mostly found his short trip to hell kind of weird rather than particularly gruelling. Very fun episode and I look forward to where we go next.

The Eccentric Family is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Eccentric Family Season 2 Episode 4

Review:

This is another of those rambling episodes where lots happens but it is difficult to know what if anything will be important later (though someone those final few minutes must be because I did not see that twist to the final game of shogi).

Benten and Nadaime have a brief moment following on from their confrontation last episode but then we move on to the more mundane event of Tanuki Shogi (weird to use the word mundane for that but it still fits in the context of this show).

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Of course, this seems to be the episode for women using guilt to manipulate Yasaburo. First his elder brother’s maybe love interest uses Yaichiro and his hard work to guilt Yasaburo into turning up to the tournament at all (although given the outcome it might have been better if she hadn’t). Then Yasaburo’s mother hits him with some guilt, first bribing him with food and then making him feel bad that he was partially responsible for how the tournament ended.

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It was nice to see Yaichiro get some more characterisation than just being the overly proud big brother and this episode moves quickly and is pretty amusing even while it deepens our understanding of the family dynamics at work here. All and all, a fairly good episode.

The Eccentric Family is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Eccentric Family Season 2 Episode 3

Review:

Yasaburo loves trouble. This we learned during season 1 of The Eccentric Family. However, in this episode he seems to be inviting it from every direction imaginable. Once again, we get an episode full of encounters that all seem fairly random except that Yasaburo serves as the connection between all of these people but Benten’s return was the true highlight of the episode.

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Still, Benten’s arrival alone isn’t enough to make up for the overall driftless nature of the plot so far. As much as I love these characters, season 2 has been taking its time about getting to a point and that is somewhat holding the show back. And yet, Benten arriving and then watching her interact with newcomer character Nidaime… Well, that is interesting. If this show needed something to get things moving, the encounter between those two characters was more or less what the doctor ordered.

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This is the face of an extremely brave man. Few people would dare speak so calmly having just tipped Benten to the floor even if they did first lay out a table cloth for her to land on.

I just have to wonder if they’ll end up killing each other or falling completely in love because those two personalities together is going to make for an explosive combination. Of course, the show could back away from this plot point and go in a different direction. It is kind of hard to know.

The Eccentric Family is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Eccentric Family Season 2 Episode 2

Review:

It’s weird in that this episode felt incredibly slow paced at times and yet when thinking back it covered a lot of content. We had the non-duel between the tengu, where¬† Akadama was only spared falling completely to the ground because Yasaburo caught him. Nidaime’s only conclusion, other than general contempt for Akadama, was that Tanuki’s really are foolish and you can’t really argue with that after watching most of season 1.

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Then Yashirou visits Yasaburo carrying Kaisei with him and we get a discussion about the cancelled engagement. This is before Yasaburo is sent to talk to a guy who has apparently set up a ramen shop somewhere he isn’t supposed to. It was nice seeing Yasaburon put on the back foot in this situation but all of these events have occurred in the first part of the episode.

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The second part sees Yasaburo encounter the guy again at a dinner with the professor from last season (the one who likes Tanuki) and some artist, and then Yasaburo does some digging around about the new guy’s past. You would think Yasaburo was concerned about a new power in town, but to be honest he’s never that concerned about anything. He’s just ticked because he came off second best at tricking someone and that hurts his pride as a tanuki (he has a weird sense of pride but it is definitely there).

Anyway, I still love The Eccentric Family and this season is doing a great job of setting up a whole bunch of plot threads again and hopefully they can all come together as they did in season 1. My biggest issue with this episode was that it felt like things were moving slowly and yet they threw a lot at us to try and process.

The Eccentric Family is available on Crunchyroll.


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Poco’s Udon World Episodes 1 – 6 Review

Overview:

30 year old Souta returns home after the death of his father to clean the family home and Udon shop for sale but finds a strange child in a pot. Turns out the child is actually a tanuki disguised as a human child.

Review:

I picked this up randomly one evening and ended up watching six episodes straight through which kind of indicates I was in to it or too lazy to turn it off. I’m going to point out that this is not my usual style of anime and the whole lonely single guy takes in lost child plot is really not one of my favourites. Yet there’s something fairly compelling about Poco’s Udon World even while not a lot has really happened.

The main focus is on Souta and how he is dealing with life and the choices he made. He spends a lot of time wondering if he made the right choice leaving the country to work in the city and whether or not he should return and what any of that would mean. He talk with friends both from the country and the city as they go on various nostalgia trips. But he also spends a lot of time with Poco (the name he gives the Tanuki). Poco works really well in the adorable child role and seldom becomes too irritating and actually manages to balance cute and helpless most of the time.

So yeah, not a lot happens as it is a character driven slice of life for the most part and if I’d watched this week to week for six episodes I’d have dropped it back at episode 3. But because I watched it in a block I kind of enjoyed it and I’m going to watch the rest of the episodes that are out and then finish it week to week, so I’ll add it in to my list at the end of this week. It’s kind of pretty, the characters are interesting enough, and plot wise a few things have happened though that isn’t really the main focus.

Poco’s Udon World is available on Crunchyroll.