6.3/10
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3 user 1 critic

Eternal Family 

Eikyû kazoku (original title)
A TV family confined within a home/set is suddenly set free and ventures into the outside world for the first time.
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Storyline

Champon City's top-rated TV show is Eternal Family, a dramatic comedy about the dysfunctional Hanada family and their daily shenanigans: the normal patriarch Ben, his constipated wife Ako, their unhinged daughters Akiko and Sae, their violent sons Sasuke and Michael, and their pet dog and chicken. But a bizarre secret lies behind the family: everyone is actually unrelated but has been brainwashed into thinking they are (as part of a sociological experiment that went haywire but ironically became a commercial success), and Ben is the only one who knows the truth and they are being televised. This strange clan has spent their whole life within the confines of their home, under the watchful eyes of the studio personnel that have imprisoned them. But when a plumbing disaster sets them free and into the real world for the first time ever, the Eternal Family is unleashed on the unprepared residents of Champon! Written by Tenchi

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Animation | Comedy

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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

April 1997 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Eternal Family See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Studio 4°C See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(53 episodes) | (DVD)

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was the first title to be distributed online through Mangazoo TV. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Surreal, frenetic, stylish, cerebral... you can like it too!
1 May 2007 | by daysnctgabkSee all my reviews

I didn't know about the whole 53 segment publicity spot thing, that changes my view of the movie a little, but I'll stick to my original impression here.

Alright, this movie isn't going to appeal to everyone, but it could, if you gave it some time and thought. I'm a big fan of Studio 4C, I think they are one of the most original and creative studio's out there, and their efforts are helping keeping this downtrodden medium alive and vibrant. It's definitely an artist's company, which to me means that first and foremost it has to be interesting and genuine to the creator, and we have the privilege of being along for the ride. Even if some works just seem like exercises in randomness, the amount of effort and thought put into making the piece happen should make people think a little deeper about what they saw (it's obviously not for the money). That being said, the fact that this is an Original Video Animation (OVA) and not a feature film is an indication that what we are in for is more along the veins of a thought exercise/whimsy/what-if? than a full-fledged story would be. It's less accessible and takes more effort, and it may not be "worth it" in the sense of catharsis or moral lesson, but you'll always get an interesting train of thought out of it.

So onto the OVA. I won't ruin it for you, but you have to know the premise to watch the movie, and they even include a text blurb in the beginning which tells you what is happening. The concept is that several "social dropouts" are brainwashed into thinking they're a family and made to live together as an experiment, isolated from the rest of the world. Their lives are filmed, and made into a TV show, which everyone watches and it's a huge success, until there is an error and they escape.

The movie is very surreal, unnerving things are happening left and right but no one even blinks, it's all part of the flow, and we are just confusedly watching. It's best to take it in 30 seconds at a time instead of as a continuous narrative, and they even give you a little time to figure in each new piece into the puzzle, with brief images of cogs. That's a fairly obvious motif, but I figure I'll mention it anyway. If you look at it like that, then it'll seem less like a weird but pretty visual collage, and you'll see the threads of a story. Not everything has meaning, a lot of it is just a backdrop to help articulate the characters, their problems, and how they deal. The clips get more cohesive as the story progresses, but it's not linear, so you have to pay attention.

In short, though I wouldn't recommend it as a starting point for Studio 4C animation, it is still a vivid and energetic little film worth your time. Even if you take away the eye candy and narrative trickery, there is a fun story to be found. As a one-time watch it can be a little frustrating, it get's really fast paced and some times the editing is too choppy. I think if I could contextualize it better, then maybe I could fill in a few holes, because some parts of it seem to be things that only a Japanese person would get, especially the strange system of logographic (kanji/Chinese lettering) puns. Well, hope that's helpful, enjoy it, and post your thoughts here.


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