Content Warnings: Racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, colonial violence, gore, violence against children, and animal death.
What’s it about? A young girl named Kimi lives in low-income housing with elderly residents looking after her. Despite the outward tranquility of their community, something eerie and sinister is lurking behind the scenes waiting to strike them all down.
To be honest, Housing Complex C was not on my radar this season. There are so many highly anticipated shows coming out this season that it’s easy for shows like this to be overlooked. Plus, it’s hard to assess what kind of narrative structure to expect since both the director and writer don’t have any production credits to their names, but hey, that doesn’t mean they can’t create a decent debut series.
It’s always hard to break into any industry and your first work as a creator is always going to be rough. While I think the creators want to say something meaningful about xenophobia and colonial violence, the show feels like a B-tier horror movie with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. It also doesn’t help that the episode keeps referencing “Cthulhu mythos.” While cosmic horror has grown beyond the ideas of white supremacist HP Lovecraft, Cthulhu and the Old Ones are specifically tied to the idea that the “fear of the other” is the fear of anyone who isn’t white.
The premiere keeps framing the newly arrived Muslim immigrants and the indigenous Kurokado people as the “other” without really addressing the actual horrors that could challenge the residents’ prejudices. There are fish-monsters in the woods and a woman in the building is terrified of her own son, a shut-in with a lot of disfigured posters and dismembered figures of anime girls, but the residents either don’t talk about it or brush it off as an “optical illusion.”
Granted, this episode does give some of the migrant workers some character depth and the other tenants do call out one of their neighbors for her racist attitudes. But it’s hard to trust this series when the very first scene—a “flash-forward” to a violent showdown in the underground storeroom—depicts one of the migrant workers as a terrifying berserker. It sets the tone for how the residents and, by extension, the viewers see him for the rest of the premiere.
It’s a shame it’s not framed better, because horror can absolutely be used as a tool to explore the societal horrors of structural violence—just look at Tales from the Hood, Jordan Peele’s films, or fellow cosmic horror-themed series Lovecraft Country, all of which examined the historical violence Black people have faced in America. Maybe Housing Complex C will twist the narrative to do something similar, but as of this premiere I don’t have much confidence these themes will be handled with any sense of nuance.
I could go on about how the fishing companies probably hired Muslim immigrants as cheap labor and the struggles everyone has to deal with living in low-income housing, but this review would turn into an essay. That said, if you want to write about it, please pitch to us!
All this talk and I still haven’t said anything about Kimi and Yuri, our nine- and ten-year-old protagonists. That’s because they’re not very interesting, folks. I know there is something creepy going on with Kimi’s mom and Yuri is extremely suspicious in the end credits, but I can’t find it in me to care about their developing relationship (even if they are connected to the Kurokado people). As of now, they are just two generic friends who are probably hiding something, but neither is going to reveal anything until their climactic moments.
I wouldn’t exactly discourage people from watching this since it’s only four episodes and can probably be finished in a couple hours. If you have nostalgia for early 2000s horror anime, then give the first episode a shot and see if you like it. There are a lot of good shows out this season to cleanse your palate if this one doesn’t turn out to be good.
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