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Eccentric Family - Complete Series, The
The Eccentric Family is a short one-season anime series based on novel written by Tomihiko Morimi. The series takes place in Kyoto, utilizes a modern-day setting, and focuses on the "eccentric" Shimogamo Family. The Shimogamo's are tanuki who are able to shape-shift appearances into any other being or animal. The tanuki freely roam the wild earth but are endangered by humans living in the city and a group known as the "Friday Fellows" who celebrate the end of each year with a giant hot-pie made up of tanuki. How are the tanuki supposed to survive?
The core story revolves around Yasaburo Shimogamo, who is the main character of the series and one of the members of the "eccentric" Shimogamo family. Yasaburo is a free spirited but kind character who plays around as a tanuki (thus taking on many shifting forms). His brother Yajiro is still close with him but transformed into a frog and got stuck in the transformation. He now lives as a frog. Though he communicates with Yasaburo he is always a green frog and can't utilize his powers the same way Yasaburo can.One of the closest friends of Yasaburo is Professor Akadama. He acts as a guardian of sorts to him and acts as a father figure while helping to provide guidance to Yasaburo when he needs some. The Shimogamo family father passed away several years prior (having been eaten during one such "Friday Fellows" hot-pie celebration). Akadama also works with the Tengu, who can shift between the appearance of human and bird forms (and fly through the sky). He is close with Benton, a young woman who has had to deal with the "Friday Fellows" group directly and who learned how to fly by lessons from Akadama.
The series animation has been done by P.A. Works (Angel Beats, Another, Tari Tari). While the art is not as creatively unique as some series (and the character designs don't stand out as much as one might hope) the detail and depth of the animation is still mightily impressive. There is a quietly charming, laid-back, and pleasant vibe to the art style that is sufficient for the show to work. It has some distinct charm because of its cheery and laid-back approach.
Director Masayuki Yoshihara (one of the staff directors on Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) brings the series a pace and style that is befitting the slice-of-life genre. This is certainly a far cry from a shonen action anime or a over-the-top comedy. There are more moments focused on simply telling the story with the characters as the unifying element: allowing the rhythm to work at its own pace. The style isn't fast-paced.
The Eccentric Family is a unique one-off anime series creation which should primarily appeal to those who like to see new stories being told in anime. This isn't a series for those who primarily lean towards franchises and are disinterested in character-based storylines that don't emphasis action or long-form story movements. For the anime fan who likes a quietly charming slice of life creation mixed with some moments of adventure and whimsy, The Eccentric Family may just be worth a look.
The Eccentric Family is presented on Blu-ray in 1080p HD 1.78:1 with an MPEG-4 AVC encoded image. The picture quality is excellent throughout with great line detail and stunning color reproduction to showcase the animation created at P.A. Works. This is a excellent presentation that only finds fault with some minor banding at times. The creative attributes all impress and the stylistic flourishes are effective on this well-encoded Blu-ray release.
The original Japanese language audio is preserved with a lossless 16 bit Uncompressed PCM soundtrack which is highly effective for the most part. Dialogue is easy to understand and is reasonably clear. The sound effects and stereo imaging adds an interesting element to the presentation. As with many other NIS America releases, no English dub was created and subtitles are provided in English (and are non-removable).
The only extras are clean opening/ending themes, trailers, and TV spots.
The Eccentric Family is a unique anime offering from distributor NIS America. Fans of anime series productions which emphasis character (such as NIS America series Natsume's Book of Friends) will find this more enjoyable than a typical anime. Fans of more light slice-of-life anime creations are encouraged to give it a spin.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.