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Tonari no Yōkai-san
Episode 10

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Tonari no Yōkai-san ?
Community score: 4.4

tonari-no-yokai-san-ep-10-review.png

Living in a world of spirits and yokai is complicated, man. It's a point I've made throughout these Tonari no Yōkai-san reviews, but it bears repeating, especially after this week. I love how much thought and care this show puts into depicting all of the magic, wonder, anxiety, and legitimate fear that one must experience every day if they are living in Fuchimagori. On the one hand (or paw, in Buchio's case), you get to participate in Magic Protective Bean Rituals, knowing that the magic you are invoking is undeniably real and reliable. There are forces beyond the natural world that can and will come to your aid and keep you safe from harm, provided you know how to establish a symbiotic relationship with them. That's a delightful notion, even to the likes of a crusty old non-believer like me.

Then again, this is also a world where a young girl's dad can be spirited away into an eldritch void, only to be reborn years later as an amnesiac Yokai like Benmaru. It was only a matter of time before TnY finally addressed the return of Mutsumi's father, a thread dangling at the fringe of the show's story since its first episode. In typical fashion, however, the show opted to give us possibly the saddest possible outcome imaginable, at least if you're looking at it from Mutsumi's perspective. In a universe where all kinds of spooky-ooky phenomena are all demonstrably real, it might have been of more comfort to the girl if her father had simply died or been transformed into some other spirit that at least retained his memories. Instead, the entity that was once her dad came back into her life in a completely unrecognizable form, with none of her father's memories or personality outside of the raw, instinctual urge to return home to his family.

Depending on how things go from here, it's almost as if Mutsumi has just been told that her father is truly dead and that she also now has to reckon with this sad, lonely creature that will forever remind her of what she lost. The most heartbreaking moment of this entire episode didn't involve tears or melodrama; rather, it comes in the form of Mutsumi looking up at her mother and, in an almost disinterested voice, asking her, "What should I call him?" It hits incredibly hard for someone like me, who is absolutely terrified of things like amnesia and Alzheimer's or anything that could cause a person to transform into a stranger who can't even recognize their loved ones. I'm rooting so hard for Mutsumi's family to be fully reunited someday, but I know this show well enough to recognize that the poor girl's journey will likely be harder than any of us would like it to be.

Rating:

Tonari no Yōkai-san is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.


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