Welcome to the other most criminally under-watched show of 2013. For a while, I couldn’t decide whether this show or Kyousougiga would be my AOTY 2013. I chose Kyousougiga because I enjoyed the mythical tone but it’s a matter of preference. That being said, Uchoten Kazoku is another visually stunning masterpiece by PA Works and also happens to be a family drama as well.
In this fantasy version of Kyoto, there exists a balance between three races. The Tanuki whom possesses the ability to shapshift, the Tengu who control the wind and the skies, and the humans that go about their lives blissfully unaware of the nature of either race. Uchoten Kazoku centers on a family of Tanuki who have recently lost their father and are adapting to the changes and grief it has brought them.
Uchouten Kazoku understands organic conflict on a level you will rarely find in other works of entertainment. In reality, people don’t achieve self-actualization, reach the apex of their character, and continue living their lives while breezing through issues with the lessons they’ve learned. Life is a constant struggle with oneself and the world. This reality is appropriately captured as the four tanuki brothers flounder through their days. Trying to understand what their father’s legacy means for them.
The setting of Kyoto is just as much of a character as the rest of the cast. Every episode tours the city’s many scenic vistas and synergizes with the driving emotion of the characters’ interactions. Ultimately, connecting the themes of outer-perception and inner-perception that the brothers explore while trying to learn about the different views and impacts the other two races have on their way of life.
Uchoten Kazoku is a marvelous one-of-a-kind anime that delivers on an artistic, thematic, and entertaining level. Its deep commentary on life, love, and family is thoughtfully written and will leave you in equally deep thought. The art alone is the envy of even the most successful shows. And unquestionably, a crowning achievement of modern anime.
For my other recommendations, click here.