Eleventh Day of Anime: Sōun Ebisugawa’s machinations revealed

Uchouten Kazoku - 10 - Large 34

The first nine episodes of Uchouten Kazoku are pretty laid back, to the point where you could almost call it a slice of life anime. Each episode we just follow Yasuburou as he wanders around and interacts with the supporting cast, does some sort of errand which explores the culture and power dynamics of the setting, with a healthy dose of sexual tension with Benten thrown in. The series always treaded a fine line between being slice of life and having some vague semblance of an actual plot, which I see can be bit off putting to some. As far as plot goes Uchouten Kazoku beats around the bush quite a lot, and for the majority of its run focused solely on developing the characters and setting with while only hinting at a mystery underneath.

But then episode 10 comes up. The day of the Nise-emon elections has finally arrived, with just the slightest bit of dramatic tension gradually rising up until this point. Yaichirou and Yasuburou have a conversation in the morning about getting up early and shouldering the burdens of the Nise-emon entails, and then Yaichirou heads out for the elections; typical, laidback atmosphere of Uchouten Kazoku just like any other episode. But then suddenly right after that Yashirou gets tricked by the Ebisugawa twins and gets trapped in a small storage house, and then after that Yaichirou is ambushed and abducted. Woah, things are suddenly happening in the show.

After coming back from commercial we return to Yasuburou as his brother’s empty rickshaw comes back and crashes, with Yaichirou nowhere to be seen. Kaisei comes up to Yasuburou from the bushes (in her tanuki form,) and reveals the big twist about the series: It was her father, Sōun Ebisugawa who gave Yasuburou’s father to the Friday Fellows and had them eat him, and now he plans to do the same thing with Yaichirou.

The thing that’s astonishing about this plot development is that the world building and foreshadowing leading up to it was so perfectly done, without giving us much of an idea of what exactly Uchouten Kazoku was leading up to in the first place. I still found the SoL-ish episodes to be thoroughly entertaining, but Uchouten Kazoku is something which takes it time to develop a plot before dropping an anvil on you and gets to the “good” parts of the story. Some may get too tired of such story structures and stop caring by the time it gets to this point, but for those who can get invested in the story beforehand it’s fairly rewarding.

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