Thanks to our friends at NIS America, I’m able to see some of the more overlooked but fun and fantastic anime out there. Their latest release, The Eccentric Family, is exactly that and then some. What we’ve got here is an awesome and eccentric show that spans thirteen episodes on two Blu-ray discs that anyone who enjoys what makes anime magical is sure to love.
As the title implies, this series follows your not so average Shimogamo family, as they’re shape-shifting Tanukis of Japanese mythology. After the mysterious death of the father some time ago, the family consisting of the wife/mom and their four sons deal with it in their own ways. The third oldest one, Yasaburo, has chosen to live quite an adventurous but carefree life wandering the city and perfecting his transformation abilities. He’s so good at it, he can even change his form into that of a young lady, nice figure and all. He does this to impress and cheer up his master of sorts named Akadama, an old man that’s actually a Tengu who used to be able to fly but lost the ability when an accident Yasaburo caused messed up his back.
As Yasaburo travels the city, he bumps into an old friend/enemy that goes by the name Benten. She’s supposedly a normal human lady that used to stay with and study under Akadama and has learned the ability to fly as a Tengu does. After a falling out, she keeps her distance from them and does her own strange things, such as being part of a club that eats Tanukis from a hot pot at the end of the year. The show follows the wild and weird adventures the family gets into and how they try to find their paths in life.
As you can tell by the summary above, this anime is one of the more complex series out there. It’s kind of hard to really describe what type of show it is, but it comes off as a blend of something Hayao Miyazaki would make mixed in with slice of life elements. Thanks to the Japanese mythology and fun cast of characters, I really enjoyed watching the show. Things such as how the youngest brother named Yashiro makes a Tanuki tail pop out on his human form when startled made me chuckle, but then there’s more serious fare that either shocks you or touches your heart as you watch.
Since the series was released on Blu-ray, the visuals and audio are top notch. The simple character designs still have plenty of detail and the animation is well done. The Japanese audio comes through perfectly as the cast fits their characters to a tee. I was very fortunate to receive the premium edition of this series to review, so there’s a few extra things added that collectors will love here. First there’s the full-color, 64-page hardcover art book that features an episode guide, character bios, and detailed full color illustrations. I thought this was a very nice addition that makes me wish more anime shows came with something informative like this.
Topping things off, the book and two Blu-ray discs come in a hardcover slipcase box that’s really sturdy and should easily keep the content safe on your shelf. As far as on disc extras go, there’s the clean opening and ending scenes, original Japanese TV spots, original Japanese trailers and even some for other NIS America releases.
The Eccentric Family is just that; a wild, wacky family that’s doing their best to fit into modern society while also dealing with supernatural antics that are both serious and most times funny. Those looking for something different in the anime universe should start here, as there’s enough frantic, furry fun for anyone to enjoy.