The Eccentric Family is a Summer 2013 anime from P.A. Works, based on a 2007 novel of the same name. I did drop this anime after one episode when it was being simulcast on Crunchyroll, but looking back, I was far too harsh in my drops that season and a UK blu-ray release provided an excellent reason to give the show a second chance. MVM’s blu-ray release mirrors the NIS America collector’s edition release, but with Region B discs. The release encompasses two discs, and a book (pictured above). I can’t speak as to the contents of the release besides the discs themselves, but being based on the NIS America release, they should be good quality.
The Eccentric Family is set in modern-day Kyoto, where humans live within the city, Tanuki live in the forest and roam the earth, while Tengu take to the skies. One tanuki family, the Shimogamo family, are the primary focus of the story. Tanuki possess the ability to transform into anything that they desire, provided they are calm and centred; this extends to being able to change into normal humans and blend into society perfectly. The third son of the Shimogamo family, Yasaburo, is the focal point for most of the anime. He has a busy daily life, though most of it is spent just having fun. He often visits a tengu, Akadama-sensei, and through him knows Benten, a human woman that can fly like a tengu. Benten is a member of a social group that enjoy a tanuki hot pot at the end of each year. As the show progresses, the family learn more about the circumstances that surround their father’s death, and inclusion in a tanuki hot pot, prior to the start of the series.
The Eccentric Family is both a Drama and comedy, but is far from a laugh-a-minute anime; the humour throughout the series is used to great effect though. The first episode doesn’t do much to foster interest in the anime, a factor in my initial dropping of the show when it aired, but stick it out another episode or two and you’ll be engrossed in the story. Although the story may seem mundane to most, it is precisely this, alongside the focus on family, that makes the show great; there are few anime that manage this – the only one that comes to mind as I write this is Studio Ghibli’s Only Yesterday. The Eccentric Family lends itself well to a binge-watch; the latter half of the show practically forces you to keep going. The only shame is that it feels we have been dumped into the story mid-way; it would have been better if some time had been spent exploring the circumstances that led to their father’s demise at the start, rather than a flashback episode later on.
The Eccentric Family looks beautiful on blu-ray, the backgrounds with their many gradients especially so. In contrast, flat colours are used for characters in the foreground. Such a wide range of colours is presented nicely, with no noticeable issues throughout. Subtitles are white, and easy to read throughout; being that the release is sub-only, this is of importance. It’s great to see a Blu-ray release for a sub-only title from MVM. Subtitles are locked, so if you want to watch it in Japanese without English subs, you’re out of luck; this is unlikely to deter many though. It’s nice to see nearly every instance of “Tanuki” left intact in the subtitle track – in this day and age, it’s rather annoying to see it translated as “Raccoon” or “Raccoon Dog” in subtitle tracks, as tanuki are commonplace in anime.
The voice acting for this show is pretty average, but at least it doesn’t need to compete with an English dub. The opening track is the rather upbeat “Uchouten Jinsei”, meaning Eccentric Life, by milktub; this is also used as the ending track for the final episode. The ending track for the majority of the series is “Qué Será, Será” by fhána. The opening tracksuits the show, with the visuals that accompany it doing wonders to exemplify how the tanuki are separate to humanity, yet living among them. This is accomplished by placing the characters on washed-out live-action images. The ending track feels out of place, and the visuals are also lacking in appeal.
The first disc lacks extras, containing the bulk of the episodes of the series, but does play the Nyaruko Season Two trailer before the menu; this title is unlicensed in the UK. Disc 2, however, which opens with the trailer for the Hanazaku Iroha movie, contains the textless opening and closing videos, alongside Japanese TV trailers, and two compilations of Japanese TV spots. The two trailers already mentioned are made available in the extras menu as well, and the Love Live Season 1 trailer is also present. Sadly, this Love Live trailer serves only to remind us that the show is not yet available on Blu-ray in the UK.
While far from your average laugh-a-minute comedy, The Eccentric Family is well worth giving a shot. The backgrounds look beautiful on blu-ray, and characters are endearing. You may be averse to the mundane, but don't be; make it a through a few episodes and you'll be hooked.