The Eccentric Family 2 Episode 6
by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Eccentric Family 2 ?
Now this is an Eccentric Family episode. Rambling from a visit with a family friend to a trip into Hell itself, this week's episode demonstrates the vignette-focused style that provided many of the first season's highlights. There was certainly a clear plot here, but things moved at the pace of Yasaburo's interest, letting his general sense of adventure permeate the story. Even Benten got to be a star, working out her Nidaime-related frustrations with some light demon wrestling.
The episode opened with a relatively mundane conflict - Professor Yodogawa, who quit the Friday Club in dramatic fashion last season, was being forced out of his teaching position. As payback for his own attempts to stop the club's tanuki-eating, they apparently applied pressure to his university, leaving him literally hunting for food from a cabin in the woods. The episode explained all this in the same matter-of-fact tone it applies to all its whimsical choices, leading into the natural visual punchline of Yodogawa's assistant Suzuki meeting Yasaburo in the forest with a big dead bird in tow.
Being banished to the woods didn't seem to have dimmed Yodogawa's rebellious spirit though, as he left Yasaburo with a tip about the Friday Club heading to the Arima Onsen. And so Yasaburo headed out of town, tracking the club in order to foil whatever schemes they'd planned.
Yasaburo's trip to the Arima Onsen offered a series of distinctive pleasures, opening with one more reflection on time spent with his father. As in the first season, I appreciate how Yasaburo's reveries about family pastimes are tied to mundane things like remembering his father's smell or lack thereof. Key memories don't arrive at dramatically convenient points; the time we spend with the people we love imprints on us in a variety of inscrutable ways, which means something as random as visiting a new hot spring can bring them back to life. Eccentric Family's adherence to this style of memory also suits its philosophical understanding of family, where those we've lost still live on in the ways they guide our choices and enrich our lives.
After visiting the onsen itself, Yasaburo ended up running into Kaisei Ebisugawa, leading into more of their usual charming bickering. Kaisei and Yasaburo always have fun conversations, but this one in particular nicely illustrated Yasaburo's disconnect regarding Benten. Yasaburo discussed Benten's frustrations over Nidaime as if she were some kind of zoo animal, and when Kaisei asked why he couldn't just ask her how she feels, he segued into a long, unconvincing rant about her “different kinds of anger,” and how this wasn't a topic he could really raise. Yasaburo is fascinated by Benten in a certain sense, but he's consistently unwilling to treat her like an actual friend he respects. It's more convenient for him to see her moods as unknowable and unchangeable, instead of making himself vulnerable (in both an emotional and physical sense, given this is Benten we're talking about) and actually reaching out to her.
Yasaburo's tailing eventually ends in disaster, with the dramatic return of Soun Ebisugawa. Soun's appearance was one of this episode's visual highlights, drawing great drama out of minimal lighting, lots of negative space, and generally alluring layouts. Fundamentally arresting shots like Soun alone with a candle, or Yasaburo stranded between the light of the door and the glow of Soun's offering, were matched with cute visual tricks like the flame revealing Soun's true nature. Soun has always been an unrepentant villain, and this sequence leaned into his menace in the best way possible.
Soun's complaints about his brother “ruining all my prospects in this life” sounded absurd on their face - after all, for whatever Soichiro did to Soun, Soun actually got his brother killed. But in the context of The Eccentric Family's general views on “the value of a life,” Soun's complaints made their own kind of sense. Even though Soichiro was eventually murdered, his life was festooned with all the icons of a life well lived - he had a loving family and a prestigious title, and his influence extends to all of Kyoto society. Soichiro died, but he still lived a full life, succeeded by a strong and loving family. Soun still lives, but he's been reduced to a shadow cast by a lonely candle, and his family is mostly known for petty infighting and squabbles with their peers. No matter what Soun does now, he cannot “defeat” his brother anymore.
That didn't prevent Soun from doing all he could to muck things up, though. In this episode's last act, Yasaburo found himself tossed into Gyokuran's painting, thrust into the hell that Tenmaya so recently escaped. The Eccentric Family's vision of Hell was as evocative as any of its Kyoto settings, imagined as an industrial wasteland populated by rust and demons. The place truly felt like some feverish nightmare, until actual demons showed up and started flirting with Yasaburo, critiquing his demon fashion, and wrestling with Benten. Offering a unique mixture of evocative landscapes and very goofy narrative turns, Yasaburo's trip to Hell was just as fun as all this episode's other anecdotes. And given that Benten apparently sees “wrestling demons to blow off steam” as a perfectly reasonable vacation, I suppose Yasaburo can be forgiven for treating her with kid gloves.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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