The mysterious figure of the frog in the well, seen early on The Eccentric Family, playing Shogi and having friendly conversation with lead character Yasubiro is an immediately mysterious and intriguing figure. So who is this curious little amphibian featured in this deeply shinto-influenced anime?
Who Is The Eccentric Family frog?
The frog in the “ecstatic family” is actually a shape-shifting Tanuki-raccoon from the Shimogamo family from the show’s title “Eccentric Family”. He is named “Yajiro Shimogamo” and is the second born of the Shimogamo siblings. This makes him the elder brother of lead character Yasaburo Shimogamo.
This lineage is made clear by the character’s names which have “second” and “third” in their names when seen in their original Japanese kanji form (矢二郎 Yajiro, 矢三郎 Yaburo).
Yajiro is characterised as a somewhat listless character, who has inherited more laziness than greatness from his father Soichiro Shimogamo. It is hinted that Yajiro was much more of a go-getter when he was a child.
Yajiro has come to take the continuing form of a frog and is trapped in an old well in the Rokudouchinnouji Temple area.
We hear that, even when Yajiro was a Tanuki, he was the but of jokes from even the smaller and weaker tanuki from his community. He was very much the “runt” of the litter.
Yajiro the frog as councillor to the Eccentric Family Community
Since assuming his position at the bottom of the well, Yajiro has assumed something of a “counselling” or “therapist” figure to his community of Tanuki, shape-shifters and Tengu. He is the unjudging ear that they turn to share their troubles. You get the sense that Yajiro, trapped as he is at the bottom of a well, offers a safe place to unload your woes.
The only ones that come to visit Yajiro not just to unload but talk seem to be his fellow Shimogamo brothers Kaisei Iwakawa, and Benten.
Yajiro for his part generally doesn’t really give out any firm advice as much as offer up a listening ear for others to share their stories.
Why Doesn’t Yajiro Assume His Old Tanuki Form?
Since finding his place in the well, Yajiro has taken a liking to his new frog form, and role as community confidant. Indeed, he seems to have grown so accustomed to his new form that he has actually forgotten how to change back to his original self.
Yajiro’s pre-frog life
We learn that Yajiro, in his old life, used to like drinking, with a particular liking for fake “Denki Bran”, being a cocktail made from Brandy.
We further learn that, after a night drinking with his father, I used his shake shifting abilities to assume the form of the “Eizan train”, causing quite a stir throughout the city of Kyoto. From this, we can assume that Yajiro’s latent shape-shifting powers are considerable.
Why has Yajiro assumed the form of a frog in The Eccentric Family?
We learn that yajiro was first driven to take up, and keep, the form of a frog by his father’s death, and the circumstances surrounding his passing. Yajiro’s father’s demise seems to have left Yajiro with even greater issues of self-esteem, without courage or vigor. He has also lost his love of drinking.
Yajiro’s Traits and Personality
In addition to his innate placid nature before his change to frog form within Eccentric Family, Yajiro exhibits a curious personality that is at once pensive, philosophic and at times shows some fragility.
Even while taking the position of someone who has renounced the world, he still exhibits a love and concern for his family. You get that he is perhaps Yasaburos most important support figure.
Yajiro has an affinity with water, the elements and climatic forces. He seems to be able to sense the coming of thunder gods, and have a special connection with the Shimogamo mother.
The Eccentric Family, frog and all, also features in the Japnoscope list of 25 shinto anime.