Elegant Yokai Apartment Life Episode 5
by Anne Lauenroth,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Elegant Yokai Apartment Life ?
In your finite time, the possibilities are limitless.
As fall gives way to winter and the leaves turn from gold to gray, Yushi spends his days going through the motions, until the memories of his time at the Yokai Apartments are so distant that, while not forgotten, they seem so disconnected from reality that they might as well be a product of his imagination. The rapid change of the seasons underlines the major theme of these past couple of episodes effectively. Time waits for no-one, and while Yushi is busy watching his life pass him by, the "normality" he so desperately wanted seems more and more like a state of existence rather than a way to live.
Yushi's problem is twofold. Following the death of his parents, he never really entertained the idea of nurturing any dreams beyond moving out of a place where he felt unwanted, which required him to grow up as quickly as possible. Now that this is taken care of, he finds he's still missing something. While he doesn't hate his new life – he seems well-integrated into life at school – he tends to focus on the things that get him down: his failed attempts at trying to save people he never connected with in the first place. This brings us to problem number two – his inability to show vulnerability to others. Both are a direct consequence of the trauma and loss he experienced, but they've been his constant companions and emotional safety net for so long that he can't change overnight. Even if he has people to hang out and laugh with, it all feels somewhat transitory, as if something's missing to create a bigger picture out of all those fleeting moments and help him acknowledge their actual worth. Luckily, he's getting there one crucial encounter at a time.
As a human being (and this story's protagonist), Yushi is in desperate need of finding something he wants for himself. Just when he's almost ready to settle for growing old and empty without ever realizing just one of those limitless human possibilities he's about to be reminded of, he runs into his old yokai pal Sato who is very much celebrating ordinary human life. Once again, it's like those guys possess a keen talent for bumping into their human friend when he's almost ready to resign. Despite the scene's somewhat random soundtrack, Sato's declaration of love for humanity and their wonderful tiny lives hits home, and Yushi remembers that between all those people who don't want to connect with him, he's got a friend waiting for him to call and share his life with.
Lo and behold, when he finally does allow himself to open up and be honest about his feelings, what he originally experienced as going through the motions turn into surprisingly precious memories. Even if Hase's ambition and monologue about the importance of connection are played for laughs, there's a lot of truth in what he says, especially the part where constant agreement with everyone is counterproductive to finding out who you are and what you want.
One last blast from the past is required to help Yushi realize that what he really wanted wasn't getting away from home, but finding one. Cue cousin Eri to deliver a tearful apology on the riverbank, because that's just where these kinds of scenes are predestined to play out (impact +1 thanks to the dramatic sunset colors). It's not just Yushi's card about finally finding happiness elsewhere, which in turn helped Eri realize how much her behavior must have hurt him, causing him not to come home on special occasions. The card's style, which she compliments right before breaking down in tears, is so terribly stiff and distant in its politeness that it's more than obvious how their house was never a home to Yushi – the walls both of them put up to keep each other out prevented it from ever becoming a place he could call home. Her guilt and the ease with which he can forgive her is the final piece of the puzzle for Yushi to explore his own growth, and the necessity of showing vulnerability to truly connect with others. After deciding that what he wants for now is more of that, he exchanges the idea of squeezing himself into a mold of normal for what we've been waiting for: the decision to go home.
Of course, everyone's way ahead of him at Kotobuki-so, welcoming him back with open arms and confetti. I especially enjoyed hearing him recount the realtor's words on his way to the building in excitement and anticipation. While Elegant Yokai Apartment Life is a little rough around the edges in both writing and animation, there's a lot of engaging emotional stuff to be worked through, and the show's doing a more than decent job at it so far.
Elegant Yokai Apartment Life is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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