By Lianying Shan
The Japanese anime TV series The Eccentric Family (2013) sheds light on how humans might achieve happiness by depicting a family of fictional racoon characters’ struggle to stay happy despite trials and tribulations that they face in life. Adapted from Morimi Tomihiko’s 2007 novel of the same name, the anime show transforms the present-day Kyoto into a fantastic space coinhabited by humans, tanukis, and the legendary tengus. While all three societies are troubled by loneliness, arrogance, and greed, the Shimogamo tanuki family after a period of frustration succeeds in following their family tradition of living an interesting life. The protagonist of the story, Shimogamo Yasaburo, best embodies the “dumb” yet carefree spirit of his tanuki heritage. This essay illustrates what Yasaburo and his family can teach us about managing stress and achieving happiness under any circumstances through approaching life with acceptance, appreciation, and playfulness.