Eccentric Family 2 Review

[This is the continuation of Eccentric Family]

ecceb]ntricStory:
Yoshiro is a tanuki and his fool’s story continues amidst a mysterious new tengu’s arrival and a new plot against his family. If he doesn’t take more care, he just might end up in a hot pot!

Violence:
Overall, this show doesn’t have much violence, however, there are quite a few fights that result in scratches and such and one case of being shot. Blood isn’t avoided, but it’s quite rare. If you are sensitive to violence, I don’t think this show will scare you too badly. It’s rather tame.

Language:
Another light section. Sh-t tends to be the only curse used and even then it isn’t used often.

Nudity:
Bath scenes are the most common occurrence for nudity and while one scene shows a woman getting into the men’s bath, it doesn’t show details and it is a short clip.

Theology/mythology:
Tanuki, tengu, and oni (demons) are real in this show. Also, hell plays a big role and different variations of them are discussed (one is even seen). Even Buddha is mentioned here and there. Religion isn’t explained, but rather simply exists. If anything along those lines bother you, however, I’d steer clear. This isn’t a sector that one can ignore in this series…

Personal impression:
This show is not only a direct sequel to it’s predecessor in terms of story, but also in terms of tone. Just like the first season, Eccentric Family has an extremely laid back feeling throughout. This is due to the lead’s personal attitude about life: come what may. While the amount of drama and action seems to be greater in this season, the light mood keeps it from being too much.
That said, the plot isn’t lazy at all (unlike our lead). There were quite a few twists and turns in the story I didn’t expect and that made this sequel very amusing indeed.
As was the case before, the art and music is fine, though a bit dated by today’s standards, but they do reflect the mood of the anime perfectly.
All in all, this was probably one of the best shows of this past streaming season. Even if dramas aren’t usually your thing, I’d recommend giving this series a shot. Due to the laid back nature of the lead, the drama never feels too heavy to bare, despite the fact that some topics are indeed quite dark. It’s a solid show with well written dialog, characters and a genuinely interesting plot. Just be sure you start with the first season or you might get a bit lost.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 12
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Fantasy, drama
Production: P. A. Works
Company: NIS America
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

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Arakawa Under the Bridge Review

59197Story:
On the edge of the Arakawa river, Ko Ichinomiya ends up indebted to a young girl who lives there. Unable to stand the idea of not paying back his debt, he readily agrees to stay with her, little knowing just how crazy this self-proclaimed “Venusian” and her friends are.

Violence:
Despite the comedy being largely slap-stick, there is quite a bit of blood (no deaths. This is a comedy, after all). Shot wounds, scars re-opening and being slammed into the ground are rather common in this show. However, it’s often so over-the-top, I doubt it would be scary to anyone. Even so, if you have a violence aversion…. steer clear.

Language:
The usual b-words and sh-ts. Nothing out of the ordinary here.

Nudity:
This is actually a pretty clean show in this department. I can’t tell you how nice it is to be seeing less nudity in shows. I wonder how long this will keep up….

Theology/mythology:
There is a supposed Catholic priest in this. I say “supposed” because he’s… kinda crazy. That said, some verses are quoted. Also a saying or two from Buddha.  Often these quotes are slightly altered for comedy’s sake or completely out of context. There’s really no message on spirituality to be had here. Just a string of jokes, each more over-the-top than the last.  (quick note: the jokes do not poke fun at the religions, but rather at the idiots who are quoting them incorrectly)

Personal impression:
This show was pretty funny. Crazy, but funny. It’s also surprisingly sweet. Most comedies tend to keep to the jokes and softer scenes are forgotten (a few exceptions exist, such as My Ordinary Life, of course). There was even a bit of character development. Sadly, the end of this show came up faster than I believe the creators intended and the build up for the MC to face his largest fear just… sizzled out. And because there was quite a bit of build up, the drop at the end was more than a little disappointing.
While this show is funny and even, at times, sweet, it still falls into the same issue so many anime do: not really going anywhere. If you need a comedic break, this is a really fun watch. But don’t get your hopes up for a strong conclusion.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 13
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Comedy, romance
Company: NIS America
Official streaming: Hulu

The Eccentric Family Review

Story:
Yasaburou is the third son in a tanuki family living in Kyoto, Japan. Aside from the usual human residents, the city is a maze of other tanuki, tengu and various “magical items” that attempt to ignore each other while also interacting on a daily basis. Despite his father having been a great leader, and his older brother’s dreams of following suit, Yasaburou really just wants his life to be interesting. Unfortunately, he might get more than he bargains for when facts concerning his father’s death come to light.

Violence:
We see a lot of slap stick stuff in here, a few bloody noses and scrapes. Nothing too serious, actually.

Language:
The usual YA stuff, d-mns, sh-ts and the occasional b-word.

Nudity:
This series almost got a WZ for this section. Aside from some crude jokes (the old man is kinda a pervert), there’s also a part where a woman strips and swims with a whale naked (no details shown) and a bath scene or two. It doesn’t quite cross the line, but when paired with the jokes it can be awkward now and again. Defiantly a YA title.

Theology/mythology:
Youkai are a common element of this series, so if that bothers you, skip this show. There are also mentions of Japanese gods here and there. Again, as common with Japan, no deep explanations or doctrines are given.

Personal impression:
I enjoyed this show, though I must admit it wasn’t the most exciting run for me. This series is very laid back and, although it’s entertaining, there were expanses where I wasn’t entirely sure if anything actually happened. By the tail end of the series, things pick up, but it’s defiantly a slow starter. It also seeks to show, don’t tell, especially with its characters. This means that not everyone is well explained and even tiny details told in passing could mean a great deal, so it’s not a show you can zone out to. Unless you want to miss import bits of info. It also has a nice run of comedy that keeps event he darker scenes bright.
The art is a bit odd and fits the tone of the show: casual. The music is rather unremarkable, though, like the art, it fits well enough.
While those deep in the anime/Japanese culture find this title spellbinding, I just simply felt it was an enjoyable watch. Not bad by any means, but I wouldn’t really call it stellar. If you like shows with a laid back vibe and artsy flare, you’ll probably enjoy this title. Just don’t come looking for a fast paced plot. It takes time for this train to get going, although, once it does, it has a very even pace.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 13
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Fantasy, comedy, drama
Company: NIS America
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll
Screenshots:
 photo e1_zpsb760d70d.jpg photo e3_zpsb6d7aa94.jpg photo e2_zps7bca85c4.jpg

Streaming Pick of the Month: Natsume’s Book of Friends!

October is here! Time to get your creepy on as the weather cools and leaves begin transform! What’s that? You want a show that has some creepy and a touching plot? Oh and wonderful artwork too? Look no further!

Natsume has the dubious honor of inheriting both his grandmother’s mysterious Book of Friends and her horrifying ability to see Youkai, mystical creatures unseen by most mortals. This makes his life a waking nightmare where fellow humans shun him and Youkai relentlessly chase him. Or they did until Natsume comes into favor with a powerful Youkai and gains a bodyguard. Committing himself to releasing the names of the Youkai bound to the Book of Friends, Natsume and his bodyguard come into contact with every Youkai imaginable and just as many humans, their stories touching and affecting one another in complicated and wondrous ways. (See the full review here!)

The first 39 episodes of this ongoing series are available legally via Crunchyroll for viewing (a fourth season is also available). The first two seasons are now licensed for a US release this month via NIS America.
Click here to start watching!

Note: Streaming shows are not always available for free viewing. Be sure to watch the shows of your choice before they’re gone!

Natsume’s Book of Friends Review

(Japanese title: Natsume no Yuujin-cho)
Story:
Natsume is able to see things normal people can’t and this “gift” has made his life both lonely and a waking nightmare. As he is running away from one particularly nasty ghost, Natsume breaks a barrier that has been holding a particular spirit captive. Often taking the form of a “lucky cat,” this spirit offers to guard Nastume he can have the “Book of Friends” after Natsume dies. As it turns out, Natsume will need this spirit’s help as many other creatures are after this book of his and the power it contains; the power to control any ghost whose name is written on its pages.

Violence:
The violence in this show is interesting in the fact that it is there and… isn’t there. Sword clashing and throat cutting won’t be found in this show, but Natsume is attacked by ghosts at times, many of whom seem to prefer chocking their victims. There are one or two episodes in which some baddies are taking the blood of various spirits and thus we get to see more blood than usual. However, these scenes are tasteful and the goal is not on the violence. Overall, the most “violent” aspect of this show is the ghosts themselves. A few are pretty grotesque to look at. Thus this show probably shouldn’t be shown around younger kids.

Language:
There aren’t any real language problems with this show. Maybe a da-n or two, but nothing worse and it’s quite uncommon.

Nudity:
Occasionally we see Natsume taking a bath, but steam from the hot water covers any inappropriate areas.

Theology/Mythology:
I used words like “ghost” and “spirit” above simply because the actual Japanese words don’t really translate over and thus can be confusing for people new to Japanese culture. But considering how they play a big role in the story, I’ll explain here. The “creatures” in this show are referred to as Youkai, which are kinda ghosts and kinda not. “Ghosts” are usually humans that have died, but this isn’t the case with Youkai. Youkai are mythical creatures, much like fairies and trolls are in British tales. Also, oni is used off and on. This term is often translated as “demon,” although that isn’t an exact translation. Again, Japan has a very specific idea of their creatures and often this idea is lost in translation. Nevertheless, the story revolves around these creatures and their interactions with humans. Occasionally humans will fight against them and try to “exorcize” them. And there are cases where Youkai try to “possess” people, occasionally succeeding. Though often it is not for any immoral purposes. Also, a few Youkai are seen by humans as “gods” and worshiped as such, even though they are often only very powerful Youkai. Regardless, the aim of this show is Nastume’s personal growth and his goal of releasing all the Youkai his grandmother controlled, not on instructing viewers on Japanese demi-gods (although a nice side affect of this show is learning a lot about Japanese folklore) .

Personal Impression:
I’ll admit to being very surprised by this show, as it’s not my usual fare. The first thing I noticed was, of course, the high level of animation. I knew that this series was a long one going in and thus the high quality of its animation caught me off guard. Unlike other long shows, the detailing is consistent throughout (there are more seasons being made as of this posting). If artwork isn’t your thing though, this show still has a lot to offer. Another amazing aspect of this show is its detail in characters. All the characters, especially our protagonist, Natsume, have motives and backgrounds. Loneliness is a major theme throughout the show, being reflected in both humans and Youkai. And it doesn’t take that long to become attached to them either. Every encounter has its own back story, many connecting with Reiko, Natsume’s grandmother. As the episodes progress, more and more characters are added to the mix, be it as an enemy or ally, and the cast continues to grow along with the characters themselves. Natsume gradually learns to trust people and Youkai as well as discover the depths of his responsibility as one who can see Youkai. Though the content of each episode is tear inducing, they often end with glimmers of hope, leaving a smile on your face despite the tears in your eyes. So if you want a heart warming show with depth, and don’t mind a few scares along the way, this show is an amazing trip. Just be sure you have some tissue close by.

Personal Rating: Young adult

Episodes: 39 (includes seasons 1-3)
Languages: Sub
Official rating: Teen
Genre(s): Fantasy, supernatural
Website: http://nisamerica.com/index.php?nav=ap&aid=natsume
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll
Screen shots: