Image Source: アニメ「有頂天家族2」公式アカウント

The Eccentric Family is the tale of a family of tanuki—a.k.a. Japanese raccoon dogs—living in the historical treasure city of Kyoto who live alongside tengu, long-nosed winged creatures from Japanese folklore. With its whimsical characters, interesting philosophies on life, and surprisingly deep topics, this show has become a cult favorite with both Japanese and American audiences.

Unfortunately, due to licensing issues, the first season of the anime isn’t available to watch streaming, and NIS America’s Blu-ray release of the series has gone out of stock. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the currently-airing second season, though—there are just a few things you might want to know before going in.

Image Source: アニメ「有頂天家族2」公式アカウント

[WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for the first season of The Eccentric Family.]

The Eccentric Family’s first season revolves around, well, an eccentric family of tanuki known as the Shimogamo family. The eldest son Yaichirō (seen bottom right in the picture above) is a straight-laced traditionalist who seeks to become a leader of tanuki society. The second son Yajirō (not pictured) has transformed into a frog and can’t turn back. The youngest son Yashirō (top left) is just starting to learn how to transform into a human. Their mother Tōsen is now their sole caregiver after the tragic death of their father. The focus of the show, however, is on Yasaburō (bottom left), the third son who, despite being a tanuki, has a great admiration for tengu.

What is a Tanuki?

Yasaburō’s admiration for tengu is so great that he is the student of Akadama, an elder tengu. The old tengu, however, is head-over-heels for Benten, a human girl he was so smitten with that he kidnapped her as a high schooler and made her his apprentice of sorts—teaching her how to use the magical powers of tengu. At first, Benten seemed to be an innocent and kind girl. However, as time passed, she seemingly awoke to her hedonistic side, and does not hesitate to use or hurt others in order to make things fun.

Benten concocted a plan that caused Akadama to be badly injured—so badly he can’t fly and has to have Yasaburo take care of him. She even joined the Friday Fellows, a club that eats tanuki in a tanuki hotpot. Heck, she even set a trap for Yasaburō’s father and then literally ate him down with no remorse whatsoever. It’s no wonder that, when Benten enters the room, all the tanuki flee in fear. She will even kill the loved ones of those she knows if she finds the experience fun or novel.

Image Source: アニメ「有頂天家族2」公式アカウント

The Eccentric Family’s first season focuses mainly on the family’s loss of their father to the Friday Fellows and how each member deals with this loss. Even the fun-loving Yasaburō who seems to have no care in the world, is struggling with the fact that the girl he is in love with ate his father. But wait, she says she loves him! …So much, in fact, that she wants to eat him. Well, this is awkward.

The Eccentric Family Vocalist bamboo Hints about What’s Coming in the Anime

Both Yaichirō and Tōsen try to fill the empty spot left by the father of the Shimagamo family—Sōichirō—by trying to compensate for him, each in their own way. Before his death, Sōichirō was the leader of all the tanuki in Kyoto. Yaichirō, as the eldest brother, is desperate to follow in his father’s footsteps and keep not only the family, but all of the tanuki of Kyoto together. Thus, he puts his everything into trying to become the leader his father once was.

Tōsen, normally a very feminine woman who runs a bar that sells “False Electric Brandy,” transforms into a masculine form resembling a takarazuka actress outside of work, possibly trying to fill the “man of the house” of the role Sōichirō once held. She does her best to keep normalcy and take care of her children, and will not hesitate to do anything to protect them.

Image Source: アニメ「有頂天家族2」公式アカウント

But by far the member of the Shimogamo family who is struggling with the loss of their father the most is Yajirō, a tanuki who was once known as the brother with the least amount of motivation—well, if he didn’t have booze to get him going anyway. The last one to see him before his death, Yajirō feels a great deal of guilt for not being able to save his father.

He also holds the guilt of falling in love with Kaisei, his cousin who was arranged to be married to Yasaburo by their parents. This anguish leads to such mental strain that after once transforming into a frog when he was drunk off his ass, he hasn’t been able to transform back since. Yajirō ends up being powerless when his family is in danger, causing even more stress. All he can do is stay as a frog at the bottom of a well and wait.

Aside from the family trying to cope with their grief, the series also has another focus: the relationship between the Shimogamo family and the Ebisugawa family. The Ebisugawa’s are lead by Sōun, Sōichirō’s younger brother. It turns out that Sōun was jealous of Sōichirō during his time alive—having not only the position of leader but also the woman of his dreams “taken” away from him.

He’s determined to become the leader now that his pesky brother is out of the way and he’s not afraid to get his twin dunce sons Kinkaku and Ginkaku (who are admittedly hilarious) to impede eldest brother Yaichirō from getting the job. He would get his daughter Kaisei to help, but she refuses to show herself to anyone, transforming into just about anything in order to stay out of sight.

Image Source: アニメ「有頂天家族2」公式アカウント

So what do you get when tanuki fight? Lots of transforming, that’s what. From beckoning cat statues as big as buildings to giant, ferocious tigers, when tanuki fight, it’s sure to be crazy. And while our protagonist Yasaburō dislikes direct conflict, he won’t hesitate to manipulate others’ emotions to get them to fight in his place. This leads to hilarious, action-packed squabbles between adorable tanuki who just happen to have the power to change into any creature or object they please. In fact, the entire final battle of the series is sparked by Yasaburō’s trickery.

We Saw the First Two Episodes of The Eccentric Family 2

Despite having such dark themes at times, The Eccentric Family is still plenty wacky and fun. And, strangely enough, it’s a show that’s not aimed at just one gender. Filled with romance, action, drama, comedy, Japanese culture, and plenty of magic, both season of The Eccentric Family are must-watch shows. Here’s hoping that the first season comes back to the streaming sphere outside of Japan soon.

The second season of The Eccentric Family 2 premiered on Japanese television on April 9. Crunchyroll is streaming the anime with English subtitles as it airs. Season 1 of the anime is not currently available for streaming, but NIS America released the first season on Blu-ray in 2015.

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