Tuesday’s Top 5: Male Yokai

Continuing on from last week where I looked at my top 5 favourite female yokai, this week we have my top 5 male yokai. I must admit, my first draft had a lot fox yokai on the list and even the revised version hasn’t really fixed that issue. Apparently I like foxes. Anyway, as always, I’d love to know who you would include on your list so please leave a comment below.

Please Note: There may be some spoilers below.

Honourable mention this week goes to Kappa from Nurarihyon.

Number 5: Yahiko from The Morose Mononokean

Okay, I nearly chose Fuzzy from this list but ultimately had to go with Yahiko. Seriously, this fox is so cute and his desire to play hide and seek is adorable (okay, potentially deadly but still pretty cute). Admittedly, the fact that Yahiko was introduced as a potential big bad and then quickly degenerated into the little brother type character that just wants all the attention is probably the reason Yahiko isn’t further up the list.

Number 4: Kuro from Blue Exorcist

Yeah, I know technically they want to say Kuro is a demon but I’m still including him as a yokai. There really isn’t much to explain with this choice. Kuro is my favourite character from Blue Exorcist. Fiercely loyal and yet definitely a cat, Kuro manages to steal pretty much every scene he is in.

Number 3: Yasaburo from The Eccentric Family

Our fast talking, trouble seeking tanuki, Yasaburo had to be on the list. He’s just such a great character even before you consider the fact that he is a shape changing tanuki. As the third of four brothers he is pretty content to drift through life looking for things to make his days ‘interesting’. Despite that, he’s pretty loyal to his family when it matters and most of the time he cleans up the mess he makes (mostly). I absolutely adore spending time with Yasaburo.

Number 2: Tomoe from Kamisama Kiss

Now, how could I overlook Tomoe, the fox who serves as a land god’s familiar. He is rude, occasionally foul mouthed, and extremely short tempered, but also incredibly loyal and ultimately a fairly lonely character seeking acceptance. Not to mention incredibly powerful and needs to be given how often his human-turned-god master Nanami gets herself into trouble.

Number 1: Miketsukami from Inu x Boku

So what beats a fox familiar, well a 9 Tailed Fox secret service member who uses a sword apparently. Told you there were a lot of foxes on this list. Seriously, the guy is adorable both in his normal suit and when he transforms into a yokai. If it wasn’t for his creepy stalkerish tendencies (I guess he calls that loyalty) he’s be nearly perfect. About the only thing he lacks is the ability to actually have a normal human interaction and eventually he might learn to get around that.

There is my list of my favourite male yokai characters. I’d love to know who you would have included.


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The Eccentric Family Season 1 Series Review: Grief, Family, Adventure, and Foolishness – This Tanuki Will Experience Them All

Overview:

Yasaburo is a tanuki and one of four brothers who have recently lost their father, the one who used to lead the Tanuki world in Kyoto. With an election fast approaching to decide who the next leader will be, plenty of family drama, and an absolute sense of adventure, this is one story that will quickly take on a life of its own. I’ve already reviewed season 2 of this so if you are looking for that review please click here.

Review:

It is hard work having a famous father. Regardless of how down to earth he might be, people outside the family are always going to judge you based on a comparison to him. For Yasaburo and his brothers they have for most of their lives been found wanting as each one seems to have one part of their father within them but none of them can really match up to the man they remember only as the warm and comforting father who cared for them regardless of their faults and foolish ways (and actually encouraged some of their sillier traits).

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The Eccentric Family tries to keep the slice-of-life and upbeat comedic tone going through its run time with quirky and fast paced dialogue. Certainly the story is jumping around through a series of seemingly disconnected events as Yasaburo pokes his nose into the business of his mother, his various brothers, his uncle and cousins, his tengu mentor and the mentor’s proteg√©, and the human group that eats Tanuki the Friday Fellows. All of this would make you think that perhaps this is kind of empty viewing or light hearted at best. But this is a show not afraid to delve headfirst into grief and how grief can change a family. For all their foolish actions and the distractions they are seeking out, at their core, every member of the family is deeply hurt by the death of a man they much admired.

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Though, the same can be true of all the characters. None of them are what they at first appear, or at least that isn’t all there is to them. As the story progresses we learn small details about them, we see the characters pushed into a variety of situations and how they respond, and occasionally we see the masks they have carefully constructed for the world come down.

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The character designs are interesting and characters are easy to distinguish though that isn’t the same as being pretty to look at. There’s a weird thing going on with ears in this show, and to be honest the characters aren’t that good to look at, but they are distinct and after awhile you realise how their appearance is such a reflection of their personality, or at least the personality they are trying to project. In that sense, Yasaburo’s near constant shifts early in the show make a great deal more sense.

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For me the strength of the show is in the character dialogue and the music. Both are distinct enough to be memorable and there are some very good exchanges between the characters that leve you smiling or just a little bit broken hearted. However, if you aren’t the kind to enjoy listening to characters exchange barbs, or quirky comments, than you may just find episodes becoming tedious because while there is some action to be found it is definitely spread sparsely throughout the series run time.

I certainly recommend trying this anime though. It has a real charm to it and really portrays the connections between family members in a way that I feel few anime really get (while at the same time it seldom falls into slow drama). There’s a lot going on but all the stories eventually come together and ultimately it is hard to follow Yasaburo around and not get a smile.

I’d love to know your thoughts if you’ve watched The Eccentric Family.


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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 Season 2 Episode 8

Review:

I find it interesting that my first thought after watching this episode was how much better this show was at telegraphing the end of the episode than Granblue Fantasy. I really shouldn’t compare the two shows given they are entirely different but my biggest criticism of Granblue this week was how heavy handed and repetitive their set up was whereas I’m now going to praise The Eccentric Family for how well it delivered us to the episode ending.

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Yasaburo was definitely asking for it this week after delivering the declaration that he doesn’t have a single weakness. The audience automatically knows that somewhere down the line we’re going to find something that undoes his transformation and this show doesn’t make us wait too long as the reveal comes at the end of the episode. Admittedly, if you read the episode title you’ll pretty much trigger right at that point what is going to happen, but that’s another story.

We then get some flirting/threatening between Nidaime and Benten (seriously love these two together on screen as they have great chemistry and you never know if they are going to try to kill each other or if they are actually attracted to one another).¬† In case the theme of love and relationships isn’t being hammered home enough by this one we then get Yaichirou having dinner with Yasaburo and telling him that he should reinstate his engagement with Kaisei that was called off by his uncle. Yasaburo being Yasaburo declines and shoves his foot firmly down his throat and after a further confrontation with Yajirou (who essentially tells him to grow up), Yasaburo heads off to the mountains.

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Where we get the much anticipated confrontation with Kaisei. It’s wonderfully done and brings a lot of points together and also explains Kaisei’s fairly peculiar behaviour in the series to date.

Honestly, I just really enjoy the way this story unfolds and weaves back on itself and continues to reveal more about the characters even while the plot just kind of exists. Normally that lack of forward progress would bother me but it kind of feels like the point of this given Yasaburo is pretty determined not to have a plan and just react to things as they occur.

The Eccentric Family is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Eccentric Family Season 2 Episode 7

Review:

This episode was really fantastic to watch though I must admit that ending took a direction I wasn’t expecting. Previously, with the exception of the father who had died prior to the beginning of the first season, regardless of what silly situations the characters had gotten into, you never really expected anyone to take lasting harm in this show. They all just kind of drift along.

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But that isn’t quite right. This show has always had its darker streak because it is very much about life and its ups and downs. In case we had forgotten that in some of the sillines, this episode finishes on a note that makes it quite clear.

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Yasaburo’s actions this episode were the same as always. Going with the flow and jumping in unexpectedly with half-formed plans making things up as he went. For once, however, he really did bite off more than he could chew. It is hard to know what he did want. His relationship with his uncle was never particularly good and last episode the uncle, who was in fact responsible for the death of Yasaburo’s father, kicked Yasaburo into a painting of hell. This episode that same uncle was trying to strangle Yasaburo and even then, I don’t think Yasaburo actually wished him real harm.

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That’s kind of what I love about this show. These characters feel real in that they are whimsical and full of inconsistencies. They have desires but sometimes even they aren’t clear on what they are trying to achieve. They respond to the events around them but sometimes not in the best manner. It doesn’t make for a particularly strong narrative, but they are amusing to watch even when we get these more tragic moments.

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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