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Tonari no Yōkai-san
Episode 12

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 12 of
Tonari no Yōkai-san ?
Community score: 4.2


You know, when the sky split open at the end of last week's episode of Tonari no Yōkai-san, I was bracing myself for all sorts of different possibilities, but I don't think I ever would have called that the show would send an army of killer demons spewing forth onto the world to transform the story into a harrowing riff on The Quiet Place. Let it never be said that TnY wasn't able to keep the surprises coming until the very end.

Granted, if I have to complain about anything, it would be that I think this show's modest production values and generally soft visual style don't gel very well with this apocalyptic shift in tone. Thanks to the excellent character writing and spirited vocal performances, I think TnY still does a solid job of just how shockingly dire the stakes have become for literally every living creature on the planet, but there were a lot of times this week where I found myself thinking, “Man, I'd be even more into this if it weren't for the stiff animation, flat lighting, and goofy looking demons…” The sequence with Yuri and Taira fighting off a demon in an airplane is the one that suffers the most, I think, coming across as more silly than scary.

Still, even though I don't know how I feel about this show suddenly deciding to become a world-ending disaster drama, I have to applaud how much of it does work, despite the shortcomings. I was afraid for Buchio and Takumi the whole time, and don't even get me started on poor Wagen and Kazuhiko being separated and vulnerable during this crisis. While the episode did a good job on the whole of making sure pretty much every character from the recent storylines got a check-in or two, the most impactful part of the story easily belonged to Mutsumi and her family reuniting with the spirit of her father, if only for a fleeting moment. We don't know the full implications of Ma-san connecting to the demon and bringing back the full vision of Mutsumi's dad, but I can only guess how messy things are set to get next week.

That's honestly my biggest worry. I'm starting to suspect that the show is building up to an ending where some—or even all—of the magic is drained out of the world, or that we'll get some other major paradigm shift that will leave our characters in very uncertain places. I'm all for emotional complexity and narrative ambiguity. Still, I have to say that I will be so upset if Tonari no Yōkai-san ends with a bunch of characters disappearing or forced to live as normal humans. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but I've also had my heart broken by enough anime to learn to prepare myself for the worst, too…


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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