Blu-ray Review: The Eccentric Family – The Complete Series
28/11/2015 Leave a comment
MVM Entertainment’s latest Blu-ray release is non-other-than the obscure The Eccentric Family; but is it any good? Well let’s find out in our Blu-ray Review.
In modern day Kyoto, humans live in the city, tengus take to the sky, and tanukis roam the earth. One such tanuki is Yasaburo, the third son of Soichiro Shimogamo, famed tanuki leader who met his end far too early at the hands of a group of humans and their year-end banquet hot pot. Yasaburo has since embraced his “fool’s blood” and strives for a happy, carefree life.
But between taking care of his old tengu master Akadama-sensei, avoiding the life-threatening advances of the beautiful human Benten, dealing with his dangerously stupid twin cousins, and avoiding becoming a hot pot himself in the next year-end banquet, the young tanuki has his proverbial work cut out for him!
Despite having a rather ‘eccentric’ title The Eccentric Family is nothing more than thirteen episodes of fear, deception and a relatively pointless story that doesn’t want to end anytime soon; which is a shame as the characters, their possibilities and the abilities they have are all quite interesting – as they are tanuki’s and tengu’s after all.
The story of The Eccentric Family follows the events of Yasaburo, and his family of Tanuki’s, as they go about their daily-activities in an attempt to lead a peaceful life alongside the humans and tengus. Disrupting this peaceful life however is the Friday Club; a group of humans who like to eat Tanuki’s each year as part of their end of year celebration event, and the Ebisugawa Family attempting to claim leadership of the Tanuki’s of Tokyo. It sounds like an interesting series but once you sit through a few episodes you realise its actually quite dull with nothing to keep you watching other than the curiosity of seeing how it ends.
Despite this ‘bold statement from myself’ there is a varied amount of topics to explore within this show; for instance Yasaburo’s late farther, Souichiro, was once the leader of all the Tanuki’s in Tokyo but after his death his eldest son, Yaichiro, has been taking part in an election to become the next leader; elsewhere however The Ebisugawa Family plan their own ‘campaign’ of becoming leaders of the Tanukis with both sides having heated discussions and fights – some more amusing than others. It’s a topic that’s brought up quite often throughout the show but yet again it never makes a ‘real impression’ on the viewer – the same can be said for Yasuboro’s other brother, Yajiro, who lives as a frog in a well. Each aspect is important to the overall story but they act more like a background topic; which is a shame as they could have been more interesting than the real topic at hand.
The real topic of this show, other than family bonds and survival, is the bizarre connection between Yasaburo, Benten and the old-tengu leader Akadama. Yasaburo and Benten were both students under the old Tengu but while Yasaburo cares for his, now defunct, tengu master, Benten uses her now found flying abilities and appearence to tease them both and make herself more powerful in the community – including revealing her place within the Friday Club. There is always tension between these three characters and while Benten can be considered an antagonist of the series, as she is part of the Friday Club who tend to eat Tanuki each year, she never really shows it – a situation made more interesting (or confusing) when Yasaburo shows that he has feelings for her. It’s a forbidden love if you will; as she is technically Yasubaro’s worst nightmare – as she could eat him – but yet he can’t help but feel entranced by her, and it’s not for an obvious reason either.
In a nutshell thats The Eccentric Family; a not so ‘eccentric’ story that offers more questions than answers and doesn’t seem to go anywhere fast. In retrospect it’s like we’ve jumped into a story half-way through as majority of the events unfolding before us are in relation to events already gone by. The fathers death, Yajiro’s guilt, yasubaro’s feelings and bentens presence; it all took place in the past and now here we are watching the results of these ‘past actions’ take place. Sure enough it does offer a few smiles and laughs; but for the most part it’s an un-entertaining experience with an unusual set of characters that does not want to end.
As with most MVM Entertainment releases the extra features contained within this set are limited; however we are treated to more than you might be expecting. For instance not only are the textless songs included but we are also treated to a selection of Japanese TV and Promotional spots used for this series.
Of course this set also comes with three anime trailers; two of which have yet to receive a UK license while the third, Love Live!, was released earlier this year by MVM Entertainment. The reasoning behind the inclusion of these trailers is that MVM Entertainment teamed up with NIS America, just like they did with A Lull in the Sea, to bring this Blu-ray variation of the series to the UK.
Media: BD50 x1, BD25 x1
Running Time: 3:33:15 (Disc 1), 1:34:45 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: LPCM 2.0 (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps
It turns out The Eccentric Family is not such an eccentric story; but more of a relatively dull one that will only appeal to a small minority of people. It’s a series that’s about family values, traditions, heritages and bonds that is constantly overshadowed by Benten and the Friday clubs mischief. As i said there is a story to be found here but it diverts down so many different angles its easier just to give up interest and watch the events unfold.
In short the story revolves around Yasaburo and his family of Tanuki’s; each of which are attempting to live their ordinary lives after the death of their father several years prior. For Yasaburo he just wants to lead a playful life while his older brother attempts to fill his father’s shoes in becoming the next leader of the Tanukis but in the shadows the Ebisugawa Family attempt to derail their plans by any means necessary. And then on top of all this is the tension between Yasaburo and the obscure woman known as benten with her twisted ideals. I guess you could say a lot happens but theres no clear-cut answer as to why or how.
In regards to this Blu-ray release then its a pretty interesting set. For starters the release has been authored by NIS America, the American distributor who originally released the show in America, and as such we are treated to same type of bonus materials as seen in the US release; and It’s not the first time MVM have teamed up either. Whats interesting however is that the discs have specifically been coded Region B and when placed into a Region A Blu-ray Player it gives the ‘region lock’ error message but whats funny about that is the message states that the disc can only be played in an ‘American’ player – so obviously all they have done is change the region and left everything else in tact. Usually i’d moan, like Anime Limited’s Blu-ray release of Full Metal Panic, but as NIS America have actually done something to the disc i’ll let it slide.
Everything else regarding this set is pretty much how you would expect it to be, with clear and presentable picture and audio quality as well as readable subtitles. I do have to point out that this set is ‘subtitled only’ and the English subtitles, although readable, at times did give some difficulty – i can’t say why/how i just mis-read or couldn’t see them clearly at times due to the bright nature of the scenes; but this is down to personal subtitle taste and being used to yellow subtitles from other MVM releases. The only disappointing factor, other than the story of the show itself, is that when accessing the pop-up menu while watching the episode it covers the subtitles – so you can’t still watch/read the show while skimming through menus.
Overall this Blu-ray release of The Eccentric Family is another strong combination between MVM Entertainment and NIS America; however it’s the show itself that falls down. Nothing seems to happen and there is a story to be told but its done so in a strange fashion then hardly any progression is made until you are finally at the end. If you are looking for something completely different to your usual anime experience then The Eccentric Family might be worth checking out; but for me it’s just not my type of hot pot.
The Eccentric Family will be available on Blu-ray from the 30th November 2015 while the DVD will be released on the 21st December 2015.