Elegant Yokai Apartment Life
Episode 4

by Anne Lauenroth,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Elegant Yokai Apartment Life ?

After just six months, Yushi really moves out of the Yokai Apartments to tackle the serious, grown-up side of life and truly live on his own. Well, technically he's sharing a room with two other guys, but being roommates doesn't equal sharing lives. Three years he's been waiting for this moment, and now that it's arrived, it dawns on him that the expected enthusiasm of "I'm finally free!" is actually closer to a somewhat disillusioned "That's it, huh?" While there's no active bullying going on in the absence of any adult supervision at his shiny but impersonal new dorm, harmony is not the reason for the suffocating peace and quiet. The young residents simply choose to ignore one another just like adults tend to do, causing Yushi to feel pretty much exactly like he did at his aunt and uncle's house. Any effort at caring is bound to wither away when no one's interested in caring back. Despite the lack of animation in the Yokai Apartment's dinner and party scenes, things sure felt a lot more lively there than they do at the dorm.

After he couldn't grow up and leave what remained of his human family fast enough, Yushi now has a hard time without his weird and annoying, but also sweet and caring supernatural family that, while embarrassing at times, also felt like a memory from a time before he forced himself to grow up. That's not to say that everyone at the Yokai Apartments was such a shining example of inspiration and adulthood. From cheering him on to calling him "more of a man" for throwing a few punches, Yushi's elders might actually learn some things from him in return, but family's not only about useful advice or a shoulder to cry on. Despite all their flaws, they accepted him for who he was without judging or labeling him, which can't be said for Yushi's personal bully, Takenaka.

Assuming he still has a family (and obviously enough time to bother other people out of boredom and insecurity), Takenaka is already much more privileged than Yushi. Taking his juvenile thug friends to Yushi's home just to cause trouble and resorting to physical violence when his chosen victim refuses to play doormat in front of his friends, Takenaka will get no sympathy from me no matter how things turn out for him in the end. Interestingly, he mocks Yushi not just for being a suck-up, but also for behaving like an adult even before Yushi himself realizes the drawbacks of his own behavior – despite already wishing the summer (and his time in supernatural adolescence) would never end. The following drama was a bit clichéd and over-the-top for my taste, but Yushi's classmates emphasizing Takenaka's oh-so-normal background obviously served the purpose of reminding Yushi that aspiring to be normal is no guarantee of happiness. I found Yushi's contemplation of guilt hard to stomach – he didn't so much let go of Takenaka's hand as he refused to hold still when that hand was hitting him for Takenaka's own pleasure. However, the main point is that he has no one to share his feelings and doubts with.

Since Yushi left the Yokai Apartments, his spiritual abilities aren't the only thing left unstimulated. Life as a wannabe adult might be less troublesome than all that teenage pain and turmoil, but it also means he's no longer able to understand the birds, nor does he have anything left to write about to his buddy Hase, now that he's living his aspired normal life. Once again, Elegant Yokai Apartment Life goes nicely overboard with its seasonal symbolism, treating us to dramatic amounts of falling leaves that turn the formerly enchanted Kotobuki-so into a truly abandoned, inhospitable place – at least to Yushi, who now has to decide how "normal" and free of troubles he wants his life to be.

Meanwhile, some store in Akihabara should figure out how to ship those magical hair pendants overseas to all those potential wives of nobles fangirling over Ryu-san.

Rating: C+

Elegant Yokai Apartment Life is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Anne is a translator and fiction addict who writes about anime at Floating Words and on Twitter.

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