On the Fifth Day of Anime: “Who cares? Just go for it.” (Uchouten Kazoku)

[Vivid] Uchouten Kazoku - 03 [31A6608D].mkv_snapshot_19.10_[2013.12.18_23.17.05]

There were five episodes of Uchouten Kazoku that aired before I arrived back from camp. Having no indication of where to start and what anime to avoid, and taking a quick look at Twitter and the Anime Power Rankings, I figured this anime would be a nice place to start.

I don’t even know where to start. I just like a lot about what this anime does.

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Uchouten Kazoku is a mix of everything I like in a story: great production values, identifiable characters, and subtlety. That last point happens to be the most important thing I desire. Subtlety leads to ambiguous situations. Ambiguous situations, then, turn into moments worthy of interpretation. Suffice to say, I don’t enjoy straightforward stories. So when I see these complicated relationships between Yasaborou and the people around him, and am left to figure out all the dynamics between them, I really feel as if I’m watching something specifically for my level of intelligence.

Does that mean that Uchouten Kazoku is a smart anime, though? Consider this argument extended towards the likes of Gatchaman Crowds or Aku no Hana, two other series this year that demand at least for a level of depth to be penetrated by the viewer for a full experience.  Would this be grounds to denounce any detractors of “smart” anime, believing that a show can be “too deep” for someone else, that they just don’t understand all the hidden meanings and interpretations?

[Vivid] Uchouten Kazoku - 04 [80A2CC36].mkv_snapshot_15.52_[2013.12.18_22.59.29]

Of course not. What I may interpret is of my own choosing, and does not affect the quality of the content itself; enjoyment can manifest outside of what’s given to me. Interpreting a story makes the story interesting. In fact, interpretation is fun for me! Thinking in terms of themes, narrative devices, and settings allows me to connect to an anime to a much deeper level. If an anime allows me to do just that, there’s no reason to not interpret. However, anime does not allow such room for interpretation at a constant scale across its widespread selection of titles. You’ll find a lot more poignant things to think about from an anime such as Mushishi than you will with things such as Angel Beats.

That might not be right, either. Maybe you can generate the same amount of poignancy from those anime. The difference lies in how much I care to discuss it with myself and others.

[Vivid] Uchouten Kazoku - 05 [9658811A].mkv_snapshot_20.20_[2013.12.18_23.05.14]

Besides that, I do often wonder exactly why the anime I enjoy the most are the ones that make me think the most. What matters is not what I am given, rather what’s important is what I think about what I’m given. Nah, that’s a redundant statement. Perhaps what excites me the most about storytelling is how events connect back to a story’s overarching narrative. In Uchouten Kazoku, there are a handful of plotlines to be thinking about with each episode. Yasaborou’s desire to flirt with mortal danger, for example, or Benten’s struggle with her own gluttony. The moral ambiguity surrounding eating intelligent species such as tanuki. The horror and hilarity that comes with dying in a hotpot. When an anime gives you a lot to think about, and when it connects back to how you view the world, the resulting discussion you have with yourself is what has the most value when I watch anime. Whether that discussion is positive or negative towards my overall enjoyment is a factor that ultimately dictates how I end up separating the “like”s, “love”s, “dislike”s, “meh”s, etc.

At least, that’s how I interpret it.

Addendum

  1. I noticed something as I watched this show. When I marathoned episodes 1-5, I enjoyed it immensely. When I had to wait weekly for the anime to finish, however, I got caught up in a lot of the repetition and I think that’s what soured my impression of this anime as a whole. I will need to rewatch this anime at a later time to see if anything changes.
  2. Sasuga P.A. Works
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One comment

  1. The Kenosha Kid · · Reply

    Hm: I marathoned it all in several different sessions after it had already ended, and the second half didn’t feel particularly repetitive compared to the first. It did all seem sort of repetitive, but I just let the world and characters wash over me when the plot wasn’t developing, and was glad to have the show.

    And I agree completely regarding subtlety. As much as I like a good melodrama, subtlety’s a rare quality to find in a series: the willingness of the creator to not say what we (don’t really) need them to have said. The result is a series that I’d feel uncomfortable trying to analyze, as a part of me would like to see that certain something remain unsaid.

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