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Tonari no Yōkai-san
Episode 8

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Tonari no Yōkai-san ?
Community score: 4.3

tonari-no-yokai-san-ep-8.png

Good Lord, Tonari no Yōkai-san you can't do this to me twice in a gosh-danged row! Last week was an incredibly sad look at the ennui and existential crisis that comes part and parcel with living as a borderline immortal magical creature and the one bit of solace that I took from it was the thought that the show surely planned to follow-up such a dark and somber story with a more uplifting palette cleanser. Once again, though, I have proven to you all that I have absolutely no freaking clue what is going on half of the time because “Episode 08” is somehow even more harrowing than its predecessor.

First, though, I am going to take stock of all of the things that were cute and nourishing in this week's story, because I think we all need a little pick-me-up after watching this episode. I will even present it in Algorithmically Friendly Listicle Format:

The Official Anime News Network Ranking of “Things in this Episode of Tonari no Yōkai-san that Made James Smile and Briefly Forget the Crushing Weight of the Grief and Despair that Every Character in the Show is Currently Suffering Through!”

#1. Buchio wears a scarf and uses his phone like a little person at the same time.

#2. Buchio calls his mother “Mom-san.”

#3. Buchio visits London with Gorozaemon the Demon King and learns that it also is populated with creatures and spirits straight out of English folklore!

And, um…ah, crap. Is that all I can come up with!? Dammit, James, you can't make an Algorithmically Friendly Listicle with only three measly entries!

Let's see…there's also the scene where Buchio has tea with Chiaki (aka “Wagen") and Kazuhiko! It devolves into a tense and upsetting fight where Wagen is furious at Kazuhiko for dwelling so much on his inevitable death instead of enjoying life with the people who love him… Oh, and we learn that Western-style Dragons are a real thing! However, we only learn that during Jiro's flashback where it becomes clear that dragons were how the Allies firebombed Japanese cities in this universe's version of World War II…

Look, I tried, okay! I wanted to keep this as light as possible, what us having to sit awkwardly next to Buchio while the Nishiya's work out their domestic issues and then also having to watch helplessly as Sano cluelessly breaks little Rein the Kappa Girl's heart over a silly schoolyard misunderstanding.

Heck, all of that is small potatoes compared to the awful tragedy that Jiro relives when he remembers the terrible and death-marked life of Mutsumi's great-grandmother Haru. That poor woman lost her mother, her son, and her husband in the span of, like, less than a decade. Then, Haru herself dies horribly in Jiro's arms after being crushed by rocks in an earthquake with her last wish being for Jiro to forget all about her and whatever relationship they might once have shared. Of course, this naturally leads to Jiro being overcome with a flashback-induced panic attack that triggers Mutsumi's still-fresh trauma; this leads her to lash out at Jiro, slap him, and then leave the sad bird to wallow alone in his misery as the credits roll. What the hell, Tonari no Yōkai-san? Why do you want to hurt us like this???

Now, to be clear: Just because I'm complaining, it doesn't mean that I'm, you know, complaining. This is all very affecting and razor-sharp drama and I continue to be impressed with how well this anime weaves such interesting world-building tidbits amid the threads of its compelling narratives. Tonari no Yōkai-san wields empathy with the ruthless precision of a master assassin who has their sights trained on an unsuspecting target. This is never more dangerous than when the emotions that the show wants us to feel alongside its cast are things like “Sorrow”, “Guilt”, “Fear”, and “Unimaginable loneliness.” I can only hope it sees fit to show us mercy next week and give us some scenes where Buchio, I don't know, completes some jigsaw puzzles with his family next to a cozy fire? Ooh, or maybe he goes out to karaoke with Yuri and Wagen?

Please, Tonari no Yōkai-san. I'm begging you. There is only so much that my heart can take.

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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