The Daichis: Earth's Defense Family

Alt title: Chikyuu Bouei Kazoku

TV (13 eps)
3.407 out of 5 from 117 votes
Rank #8,397

The Daichis are a fairly pathetic family. Seiko is leaving her wimpy husband Mamoru; Dai is a hyper pervert; and Nozomi has to do all of the housework. One day, while Seiko is trying to get Mamoru to sign the divorce papers, a mysterious message is faxed to them: they have been selected as "Earth's Defense Family!" There are millions of yen in it for them, but the contract is void if the family splits up. Now, they must put up with each other long enough to defend the Earth from threats like meteors, space monsters, giant Communist robots, and cute collectible toys; will these crises bring the family together, or just drive them even crazier?

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"The Only Way To Save This Family Is For Them To Save The World" The Daichis is one of those series that is so obscure and easy to overlook despite the fact it even got licensed and fully dubbed into English you would be forgiven for not having heard of it. It was this obscurity and ultimately curiosity that led me to watching the show.  So airing in 2001 and animated by Group TAC The Daichis is a series about a family teetering on the edge of oblivion. We have the obese computer obsessed Father Mamoru, the equally work obsessed Mother Seiko, the teenage Daughter on the verge of a total mental breakdown Nozomi and finally the feisty young kid Dai who is trying to just make the best of it all. The show starts at the breakfast table with Seiko demanding Mamoru for a divorce and asking the kids with whom they want to stay with, Mamoru ignores the request with his face in his laptop. The impression is certainly given that this is just everyday life in the Daichis household. But with the family nearing boiling point a strange fax comes in informing them of Earth's imminent destruction by an Alien force and that they have been chosen as the ones to defeat it. Perhaps understandably they somewhat ignore it, though RPG playing Mamoru keeps an eye on it. As the day progresses it becomes apparent that the fax was telling the truth and with planet earth on the brink of destruction this dysfunctional family must unite to take down the Alien invasion and if saving all of Human kind isn't enough of a motivation then being paid for the honor of doing so definitely is (with some caveats), at least in the case of Seiko anyway. This is where the heart of the show lies as it's this coming together that helps the Family ties mend and heal and frankly it's endearing, clever, heartwarming but perhaps most of all funny. If it's not young Dai bombing into battle headfirst and certainly headstrong then it's Seiko having a nervous breakdown of the cost of every disaster averting action taken which mounts the family into even more debt. Along the way we get some great parodies of pop culture which both serves as good comedy, nice action set pieces but also most importantly character building and exploration. We see why this family is the way they are and how they came to be it. Most interestingly we discover that perhaps despite how much they all care for each other the family may also be too far gone to save. I think it's this exploration of family dynamics that really push this show to some high levels and make it a truly special series and one of the best hidden gems around. The character journeys of each member of the family are really well handled and we are exposed to each of them equally and with some amount of depth which by series end helps make all of them very lovable and enjoyable to watch. Animated in 2001 surprisingly this series is cel animated making it most likely one of the last shows of it's kind (except for the original version of episode 11, which is mostly digital for some reason). Given this is at the very end of traditional cel animation and with some talented men and women behind the scenes what we are given is a show that looks in no uncertain terms truly fantastic. The transformation scenes of each character are sublime, the action fluid and beautiful and the general animation all round detailed and full of depth. It's really a superb looking show and fans of older animation techniques will find alot to appreciate in it, probably much more than when it came out since now we are so far divorced from this traditional style. I just found it a marvel from beginning to end. The Soundtrack is serviceable but not overly memorable. Without an official soundtrack available either it's something I will forget perhaps sooner than I would have. The opening is a fun electronic rock theme that serves at getting the viewer pumped enough for the upcoming episode. The ending is tranquil and fittingly somber as it plays over an old family photo allowing the viewer to contemplate how on earth this family will keep it together and the limits to which it's being stretched. Overall this series is truly as I mentioned earlier a hidden gem. It's so much more than the sum of it's parts would have you believe. The atmosphere of the show will suck you in and whether this Family can keep it together just long enough to save the world and hopefully themselves as a unit ready to fight for another day is both engaging and thought provoking. I really have fallen in love with this show and I think it's a shame that it has become so overlooked. To summarize this series in one word - 'Recommended'.

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