No longer than I've been an anime junkie, I have been around long enough to have some dear favorites. 2017 seemed to be the year of returns - including the return of many of my favorites.
One of these was The Eccentric Family.
I tend to prefer sequels that you can dive into without previous knowledge of everything that went before. The second season of The Eccentric Family is not like that. In fact, I had to go back and rewatch the entire first season before the second season made sense. But then, it was worth it.
It's odd that the first season left me with a love of tanuki and their sense of fun, and living for the day. Yet when I watched it the second time, I realized how sad the story really is. As I watched the second season, I fell in love again with the tanuki sense of humor and fun, even as I knew the story is sad.
It is common wisdom that everyone falls for the stories in which they identify with one or more of the characters. I don't find that is always true for me, but in this case I think I do identify on a very deep level with this pattern of the story.
I try to always find the best in any situation,and to have a fun and interesting life. Yes, The Eccentric Family had me from the first episode, when Yajiro said he had no worries, because he chose to live an interesting and fun life.
In the first episode of the second season, right off the bat Yasaburo is in trouble with everyone, from his older brother to his former sensei, not to mention the beautiful and formidable Benten who is forever threatening to put him in a hot pot and eat him.
And she might. After all, she ate his father.
Yet as mischievous as he is, Yasaburo is also deeply kind in his fondness for the old tengu, Professor Akadama, and his protective love of his mother and his little brother. Although he is the third son, as the season comes to a close it becomes clear that his family and friends truly depend on him for courage and strength. His meddling both stirs up trouble, and shines light on the hidden truths no one speaks out of the sake of politeness.
The Eccentric Family, for all it's fantasy setting of Tanuki, and Tengu walking among the humans of Kyoto is much like real life. Sad sometimes. But you've got to make the best of it. Find fun when you can, and tweak the nose of authority at every opportunity. It's good for them.
One more thing.The art in this anime is outstanding in it's beauty. Which is a big deal for me. Even the most "ugly" scenery is done with a love of detail, lighting, and touches of beauty. To me, this is a reminder that there is beauty in everything - although sometimes you do have to look hard for it.
Here in the poverty and squalor of Professors Akadama's apartment, where he drinks and wallows in his misery and anger we find this beautiful painting of Mount Fuji on the closet doors, and outside the window touches of green growing things.As Yasaburo says a moment later, "This place airs out better than you would think". And then he plops down like this:
And we are treated to the jarringly funny picture of an "innocent schoolgirl" drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette while sitting in a rather less than modest position.
Comes for the laughs. Stay for the pathos, the beauty of sadness, the hope that springs eternal so long as there is love.