Elegant Yokai Apartment Life – Episode 1

By: Vrai Kaiser July 3, 20171 Comment
A ghost boy and his ghost dog watch television static

What’s it about? Yūshi Inaba is a 16-year-old boy whose parents died three years ago. He moved into his uncle’s house, but resolved to move into a dormitory in high school. Those plans were dashed when that dormitory burned down. He eventually finds an apartment with cheap 25,000-yen (about US$220) rent. Yūshi finds out too late that the apartment is home to supernatural creatures such as ghosts, yōkai, and mononoke, and his daily life becomes embroiled in the eccentric apartment.

Source: Anime News Network

Are you looking to watch a gently comedic slice of life show about supernatural creatures? Because this is another one of those. It’s inevitably going to draw comparison to Natsume’s Book of Friends, a comparison it almost certainly can’t live up to. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad series. Rather, it’s just Another One. If this is the kind of genre that appeals to you, it’s well executed enough that you’ll probably have a good time watching. If it’s not your scene, this one isn’t doing anything revolutionary enough to change your mind.

That’s not to say there’s nothing interesting going on here. Yushi is another in a long line of orphaned protagonists who winds up living on his own, but the script takes some time to establish the hurdles he ends up facing – as a minor he’s barred from certain places, his budget is abysmally low, etc. They even give him a reason for wanting to live on his own – he feels like a financial burden on his uncle and is cold-shouldered by his cousin. It’s a nice little touch of detail, which is where slice-of-life shows inevitably live.

The other draw in this first episode is Akine, Yushi’s fellow probably-living housemate. He has a crush on her immediately, of course; but her design feels nicely non-exploitative, and her Genki Girl personality is layered with a few hints of hidden maturity. Also, teen exorcist. This is cool and I’m here for it.

Akine banishes an evil spirit

As for the ghosts, the designs are functional, leaning neither in an especially horrific nor especially cute direction for broadly recognizable figures. There’s a cute visual gag with a ghost boy watching a static TV screen a la Poltergeist, but otherwise it’s nothing to write home about. That could be a problem unless the writing proves quite strong, but the preview for the next episode seems to favor a surplus of bishonen rather than more fantastical creatures.

That may be for the best, really; the few attempts to briefly create a tense atmosphere go over like a lead balloon. The show’s at its most alive when letting Akine and Chichiri-alike housekeeper Reimei (protip: he’s probably dead) bounce off each other while Yushi flails in the background like the confused everyman he is.

Time will tell whether this decides to become a character drama with arcs or stays content to spin its wheels goofing around for a season. I’m curious enough to invest another episode or two, but at some point the show’s going to have to prove there’s something about it that goes beyond “just okay.”

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