The Eccentric Family 2 Episode 12
by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Eccentric Family 2 ?
Well, The Eccentric Family pulled it off. After a rambling season that spun a number of new characters and an even wider sampling of old friends into all sorts of tanuki trauma, this finale brought pretty much every dramatic thread to a satisfying close. The Eccentric Family 2 was certainly a more straightforward story than a thematic tapestry in the manner of the first season, but this episode's various delights were so satisfying that it's hard to quibble now. If a tanuki's life is measured in trouble caused and fun experienced, then this episode was a success by all accounts.
The episode began by gracefully moving the two halves of the show's cast into one climactic confrontation. Well, gracefully in narrative terms - in physical terms, tying off this drama required slamming Jurojin's train directly into Nidaime's house. I was initially somewhat worried that Benten would betray her own fundamentally ambiguous nature by siding with the Friday Club against Yasaburou and tanuki society. But in the end, Benten chose to align herself with her first family, personally opening Jurojin's hell portal and sending both Tenmaya and Soun off to their deserved ends.
Benten's betrayal of the club set the stage for a final battle with Nidaime, which was both as brutal and embarrassing as you might imagine. The Eccentric Family isn't really renowned for its high-octane magical battles, but the final showdown of these bitter semi-siblings was tense and visually dynamic from start to finish. The emphasis on the damage both of them were doing to Kyoto gave a great sense of impact to their fight, and the steady progression from impressive magical conjurings to bouts of physical strength to straight-up clawing at each other nicely emphasized the childishness of their feud.
Benten and Nidaime have both been isolated by circumstance, and the sadness of each of their journeys found strange articulation in the ugly desperation of their fight. Neither of them were fighting for anything meaningful - while the tanukis they saw as comical were competing for meaningful respect within their community, each of these two unwilling tengu could only fight to prove their basic meaningless dominance. Nidaime once again won the battle, but his victory brought him no happiness - looking on the ruin of his home, all he could do was grimace and cry. It was the powerless Akadama, a man whose acceptance of his own age was once again emphasized through tossing his fan aside, that proved to be the truly strong tengu. Bolstered by the support of a full community, the conventionally powerless Akadama urged his son to become stronger, reflecting the true nature of strength in this world.
After that, the rest was epilogue. I really enjoyed the quiet scene between Yasaburo and Benten, where Benten's defeat and isolation finally brought her to the point where she could be vulnerable with her closest friend. Benten and Yasaburo are linked in a somewhat contradictory way - each of them possess a kind of distancing reverence for the other, but that reverence can never translate into true intimacy. Finally able to understand that Benten saw him in much the same way he saw her, Yasaburo realized he would never be the one to stand by her side. But after two seasons of hovering in her orbit, he didn't seem too unhappy about that.
Other scenes brought charming resolutions to Yaichiro's various dramas, the Ebisugawa siblings, and Nidaime's unique friendship with Yasaburo. But season two concluded on one of this season's most charming relationships of all, the renewed bond between Yasaburo and Kaisei. It's taken a while for Yasaburo to accept that he and Kaisei are a petulant, snarky, and ultimately dependable pair, the two unlikely tanuki keeping each of their families together. But even if it took a bit too long, life is all about the journey anyway. If Yasaburo weren't causing trouble, he wouldn't be much of a tanuki at all.
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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