Elegant Yokai Apartment Life
by Anne Lauenroth,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Elegant Yokai Apartment Life ?
Considering that Yushi (after reluctantly giving in to become the light novel protagonist his magic book always wanted him to be) takes on his first supernatural case, this was a surprisingly boring episode.
The case itself is far from solved, although its direction seems pretty clear. The remnants of someone's burning hatred of women are possessing the new English teacher, making the school (and the drama club especially) a creepier place. Those maniacally laughing faces in the closet were pretty spine-tingling. It looks like Yushi will have to save Tashiro yet again, who is part of the problem here. In order to show Yushi's growth, it's important for him to have a social circle outside the Yokai Apartments and Hase – regular people he can now interact with comfortably instead of pushing them away, like he used to do.
But so far, these interactions haven't been particularly exciting. Other boys get jealous of Yushi's apparent popularity with the girls, but our new light novel hero has faced tougher adversaries than a couple of high school bullies, so he can more than defend himself. I'd be more interested in seeing him build new friendships than beating up some punks with the help of his (not always useless but still terribly misinformed) Petit Hierozoicon, but what we see of his interactions with Tashiro and her girlfriends isn't particularly fascinating either. Sure, having them fangirl over Ruriko's awesome bento boxes and constantly teasing Yushi, whose reactions range from embarrassment to partly feigned outrage, is one way to show what a normal, healthy teenager he has become. But after we've seen Yushi share some really meaningful moments with Akine and Hase, all this messing around without much substance is only interesting until it's made its point, which happened last week.
After a soot sprite (at least that's how these tiny black cloudlike yokai look to me) sumo interlude, Yushi's dinner discussion with Reimei and Akira lays the groundwork to tie the school mystery to our story's main themes, turning it into a cautionary tale of what happens to negative emotions if they stay bottled up for too long. Eventually, they'll gain a life of their own, spilling out of control until they take possession of you and even others. Sure, uncontrollable hatred of women is the creepier stepbrother to Yushi's prior isolation out of grief, which was mostly internal and didn't hurt others. Nonetheless, the parallels are there, and I'm pretty sure something must have happened for Miura to become susceptible to all this overflowing hatred – probably something that made him withdraw from others long before he became a danger to his students, leading him to the same place Yushi would have ended up if he hadn't met Hase and his friends and mentors from the Yokai Apartments.
It's almost frustrating to acknowledge these solid ideas and see them delivered at a barely working level, due to lack of budget and sharpness in execution.
Elegant Yokai Apartment Life is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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