Grace. いただきます. Bismillah. Cultures across the world have developed means to express gratitude for what they consume. This is possibly borne out of an innate quality, as recent studies suggest, that rituals before a meal may alter our perception of its taste. The idea of gratitude being expressed serves another ancillary function: it staves off the guilt of consumption.
In this season’s The Eccentric Family (Uchōten Kazoku | 有頂天家族), we follow a family of shape-shifting Japanese raccoon dogs. Yasaburō, the narrator and main character who poses as a young human, spends his days avoiding and cavorting and playing with Benten, the powerful and dangerous psychic woman seen in the image above. The dialogue between the two is brisk and spry, with a back and forth that moves at a nice clip. But none of that is remarkable on its face to me, until we understand that she ate the young raccoon dog’s father in a year-end ritual meal and that it is common knowledge in their community.