The Tanuki Family

What would a town be without a place to eat and drink and socialize?  Today, we’re going to visit the local restaurant, Banzai, and we’ll meet the family who operates it.  The families living in Sunnyville are quite diverse.  We’ve already met the Loutrons (Greek), the Von Straussens (German) and the Talbots (Anglo-Saxon).  The family that runs Sunnyville’s restaurant is Japanese.  They are the Tanukis, a family of raccoon dogs.

Goro TanukiThis is Goro Tanuki.  He comes from Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost island.  He was the only son in a family full of daughters and spent much time in the kitchen, helping his mother and older sisters with the cooking.  This is what led him to love cooking and Goro vowed that someday, he would have his own restaurant.  Upon graduating from high school, he said goodbye to all his sisters and left on a trip where he hopped from city to city, learning directly from various chefs and working jobs in many restaurants.

Goro’s journey eventually took him to Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island.  He got a job at a bar and restaurant in Sapporo, Hokkaido’s biggest city, where he met his future wife.

Kimiko Tanuki

(This image was in my 11×14 sketchbook, too big to scan, so I had to photograph it.)

This is Kimiko Tanuki, a native of Hokkaido, Japan.  Originally in training to be a geisha, she instead became the hostess at a bar/restaurant in Sapporo and met her future husband there.  Goro and Kimiko fell in love at first sight and were married not long after.  The two stayed for awhile in Hokkaido and then eventually found their way to the hamlet of Sunnyville.  They bought their own restaurant, which had previously been a diner, and since then have been a fixture in Sunnyville.  When Goro is not in the kitchen, he can be found at the bar talking to the town’s men who’ll often stop in for a drink after a long day.  In contrast, Kimiko is more formal and spends time making sure the household is in top order – though she’ll always be ready to chat with you if you stop on by.  Oh yes, we haven’t met the children yet.

HachimonThis teenage raccoon dog is Hachimon Tanuki, the younger son of the family.  He’s thirteen years old and can be seen helping out in the restaurant, usually waiting tables.  He too dreams of being a chef someday and may just eventually take over the family restaurant when he’s old enough.  When not serving up bowls of ramen or soba noodles, he can be found socializing with Rusty and Sam.

Rei TanukiThis rough sketch from my smaller size sketchbook is of Rei Tanuki, aged fifteen, and Hachimon’s older sister.  She’s very warm and friendly.  When not waiting on customers, she’ll be helping on her mother and father in the kitchen.  She’s also good friends with Sam and can be found on occasion hanging out with Margaret and Magnolia.

Oh, you didn’t hear this from me…but there’s a rumor going around that Konrad Von Straussen has the hots for Rei.  But then again, it’s just a rumor…

As with the Loutrons, the family surname is a pun.  Tanuki is actually the Japanese word for “raccoon dog” which happens to be the characters’ species!  I should also add that the family who’d be running the town restaurant didn’t start out being Japanese.  In early notes, the family was going to be Chinese!  I debated having them as a family of cats or pandas from China, but in the end, I made them Japanese and as raccoon dogs.  Why Japan?  It was intended as a homage to the Japanese roots of Sunnyville Stories.

Well, that’s it for this week’s entry.  Tune in next week for more.  Oh, don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS feed, sign up for email updates, and don’t forget to buy some superb Sunnyville merchandise like the Sunnyville Sketchbook!

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About Max West

I am a freelance artist and the creator of Sunnyville Stories, an independent slice-of-life comics series.
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