I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Friday, January 15, 2016

milktub -- Uchoten Jinsei (有頂天人生)

Last night, I watched the pilot episode for the 2013 anime "Uchoten Kazoku"(有頂天家族)once again after a couple of years. It was one of those shows that got differing reactions depending on where it was broadcast; in North America and other places, it apparently got a lot of praise for at least the visuals, while in Japan, it merely got a lot of....meh. That's too bad since I certainly enjoyed it for those gorgeous scenes of Kyoto (indoors and outdoors), the acting by the seiyuu especially by the triangle of main protagonist Yasaburo Shimogamo, the beautiful if dangerous Benten and Professor Akadama the crabby tengu, and some of the more exciting sequences which almost reached Miyazaki-esque heights.

Between the opening and ending themes for "Uchoten Kazoku", I preferred the latter theme of "Que Sera Sera"(ケセラセラ)by fhana, but on seeing the anime again, I felt like writing about the opening theme by pop punk duo milktub, "Uchoten Jinsei" (Eccentric Life). While the lovely "Que Sera Sera" makes the perfect musical backdrop to the ending credits focusing on Benten's evolution from callow high school girl to intimidating dragon lady, "Uchoten Jinsei" is the raucous introduction to the weird/wonderful world of the Shimogamo family of shape-shifting raccoon dogs. With lyrics by milktub and music by Kyoichi Miyazaki(宮崎京一), the duo of bamboo and Ichiban Boshi Hikaru(一番星☆光)exhorts listeners to put some spice in their lives and not get dragged about by anyone else. The Shimogamos (and their allies/enemies) are definitely a good example of that.

milktub had its beginnings in the late 80s when 16-year-old bamboo was inspired by the then-band boom in Japan which resulted in him coming up with the name milktub in 1991. However, it wouldn't be until 1999 that the band would push forward in earnest with a set of indies singles before their 1st major album was released in December 2008, "Smile Energy". "Uchoten Jinsei" isn't one of their 4 major singles, though.

I've been to Kyoto twice with my first time being during that summer 1981 trip to Japan. "Uchoten Kazoku" premiered in the summer of 2013 and the show reflecting that season reminded me of my time there. The old capital being in a bonchi basin made things truly sunny and supremely hot there, and trying to view the Gion Festival from a three-deep sidewalk probably had me sweat off a kilogram or so. The skies I remember from that day were portrayed exactly as they were right from Episode 1 of the anime so there was a reason for me to fall for its charms. And scenes like the one above sealed the deal for me.


  1. I really enjoyed Uchouten Kazoku and I was wanting more at the end. like many anime it only got one cour and I don't think it sold enough BD to warrant it getting a sequel.

    The eccentric style is thanks to artist Koji Kumeta, who was brought on to do the character designs. He is the author of a few manga - but most notably Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, which is well known for its unique style, oddball cast and relentless satire of Japanese culture.

    In fact, SZS has its own anime that consists of 3 seasons and 5 OVA's. I'm not sure what you'd think of it, but since you lived in Japan for a long time I think that you would appreciate the humor a lot more than western audiences. It also has excellent original music! Especially the OP and ED selections, often starring Kenji Ohtsuki and some of the seiyu.

    1. Hi, Ryan. Good to hear from you again.

      Yeah, I wasn't quite sure why "Uchoten Kazoku" never hit it big in its native land. Maybe it was just not the "in" genre at the time.

      I did hear about "Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei" from my anime buddy since Kumeta was also behind one of my other favourite shows, "Joshiraku". Apparently the humour there is apparently quite similar so I might see if I can get a copy of SZS to peruse.

    2. If you liked Joshiraku I think you will appreciate SZS. In many ways the humor is similar. Although Joshiraku is sometimes a little more "random", SZS flies off the handle sometimes. Hope you can find a copy to watch, it's great!

    3. I think I will ask my buddy about getting a copy of SZS. Since he mentioned it in such glowing terms, I'm sure he's got one somewhere. Thanks!


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