The Eccentric Family 2 Episode 10
by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Eccentric Family 2 ?
The Eccentric Family 2's tenth episode begins with a dramatic but hastily aborted confrontation, as the Nidaime's arrival prompts Benten to retreat. As Yasaburo grovels in his smirking, insincere way, Benten responds with something bitter and heartfelt - a simple “I have always been kind to you.” Benten is genuinely hurt by Yasaburo going to the Nidaime over her, even though she has no logical right to be. Her feelings are contradictory because her fundamental quest to find a home has been contradictory. Seeking solace in the Friday Club meant betraying tanuki society for all time, but in the end, Yasaburo may still be the closest friend she has. Watching Yasaburo grovel before her but ultimately rely on the Nidaime only underlines the fact that she has no true home at all.
Benten's decision to back down here also reflects the many contradictions of The Eccentric Family. Though tengus are defined by their pride, Benten and Nidaime obey a very childish kind of social decorum. Our two faux-tengu fight according to the rules of internet trolls - whoever gets visibly mad, i.e. demonstrates they're actually invested in a conflict, is the loser. The fact that Benten showed up at all demonstrates an attachment and vulnerability she'd never willingly admit, but in fairness, Benten isn't really allowed to be vulnerable. Benten is much like a stage magician - without her air of superiority and menace, she's just a bunch of trick cards. Benten's lack of a family dictates her whole persona - without anyone to truly be vulnerable with, she's forced to play the part she has been cast in.
As if to rub in the pain of Benten's position, this episode's next few scenes all demonstrate the warmth and value of family, as Yajiro recounts his early adventures and Yasaburo enjoys time with his Thursday Club companions. Having been forced to go into hiding after angering Benten, Yasaburo is visited by first the kindly professor and then his new sister Gyokuran. The scene with Yasaburo and Gyokuran was one of my favorites this week, consistently demonstrating their excellent rapport. Though Yasaburo calls Yaichiro a weirdo for desiring responsibility, Gyokuran points out that he actually put himself in the crosshairs for the sake of his brother's dream. Like Benten, Yasaburo is defined by contradictions - his oft-stated desire for a carefree life is constantly undercut by his natural impulse to help others and his strong leadership qualities. But life and people are full of such contradictions, foolish tanuki most of all.
Unsurprisingly, it's Souichiro who seems to have the clearest grasp on who he is and can be. As Yaichiro daydreams in the leadup to his election, he's reminded of a meeting with his late father, where Souichiro imparted some sharp and world-weary advice. “Every time you make an enemy, you must also make a friend. If you make five enemies, you must make five friends. Then one day, even if half of all tanuki society is against you, look beside you.” There is no way to be true to any authentic version of yourself and also to be liked by everyone. All we can hope to do is make honest and vulnerable connections where we can.
The last act of this week's episode was split between a fanciful adventure starring Yajiro and a final meeting between Yasaburo and Kaisei. The first segment returned Eccentric Family to its most magical and off-kilter mode, as Yajiro met a girl who was born to dig holes and discovered a tanuki palace underneath an old shrine. The second offered a clear echo of Benten's fatal flaw, where her inability to find any sincere connection was contrasted against Yasaburo's unwilling vulnerability around Kaisei. The fact that Yasaburo can't help but show his vulnerable side to Kaisei seems to indicate that the two are truly meant to be family, in spite of Yasaburo's snarky protestations. But sorting out their relationship will have to wait, as it seems like Kaisei and Yasaburo will be the ones needing a rescue this season.
Overall, this was a triumphant return to form for Eccentric Family, offering choice examples of basically all its strengths while also tying together into a thematically cohesive reflection on familial bonds and ideas of home. I wasn't quite sure how all of this season's diverse story threads and themes would come together, but it's looking like I needn't have worried. I'm eager to see how all of these tanukis make it through the trials to come.
The Eccentric Family 2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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