Episode 01 – “Goddess of the Noryo-Yuka”
Wow, this anime is strange…but has some really solid presentation. PA Work’s latest anime, Uchouten Kazoku, is set in Kyoto and draws some elements from Japanese folklore. In this world, the three major beings are humans, tengus, and tanukis. In case you aren’t too familiar with the folklore, tengus are winged spirits that dominate the skies, while tanukis are raccoon dogs that can transform (kind of like the tanuki suit from Super Mario Bros. 3). Our main character is a tanuki by the name of Shimogamo Yasaburou. Unlike other tanuki’s, Yasaburou seems to admire tengus and likes to pretend to be a human. His liking of the other two species led him to respect and work under professor Akadama, an old tengu. Yasaburou also got to know a peculiar human with the ability to fly, named Satomi Suzuki. Although the anime doesn’t give much explanation, it appears that Suzuki has left Yasaburou and the professor for a long time. One day, the professor wrote a love letter for Suzuki and requested that Yasaburou delivers it to her.
After a trip through the town, Yasaburou uses a bow and arrow to deliver the message to Suzuki, who is accompanying a party in a building across the river. Yasaburou then leaves to a tanuki-owned bar for a drink. After a bit of time, Suzuki enters the bar and strikes fear into every person there through her presence alone. After a rather intense conversation with Yasaburou, Suzuki angrily kisses him and leaves the bar. Later that night, she is seen flying from roof to roof after mocking her old professor, who had wished to fly with her. Yasaburou eventually runs into the professor, who seems to be rather down about his age depriving him of the ability to fly. After a taxi ride home, Yasaburou tucks his old professor into bed and leaves. Before the episode ends, we see that Suzuki has entered the professor’s home for a visit.
Honestly, I find this anime to be very intriguing, but the story is quite strange and hard to stick with. Although I didn’t find the first episode to be too comedic or story-driven, I was rather taken by the presentation. The art was somewhat simple, but very unique and vibrant. The scenic backgrounds appear to be very artistic thanks to the style and are really eye-catching. The soundtrack in the episode is also very nice and helps create a special atmosphere. My only problem with the presentation so far is the character design, more specifically, their ears. Why are those ears so big and oddly shaped? Other than that, everything else seems to be decently interesting. I’m not expecting too much out of the story for this first episode, but I do expect it to answer a few questions later on. Most of my questions lie in Suzuki’s actions and overall character. Why did she leave the gang? Why do the tanukis fear her so much? How can she fly is she’s a human? Hopefully these mysteries will be answered in the future.