Elegant Yokai Apartment Life – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Yushi Inaba is forced into an awkward living situation at his uncle’s house after his parents pass away. He decides that when he goes to high school, he’s going to live on his own, and finds an ultra-cheap apartment named Kotobuki-so. But it was a monster apartment, filled with monsters, humans, and ghosts! At first, Yuki doesn’t know how to deal with these eerie monsters, but after spending time with these strange creatures his closed heart gradually begins to open… (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Yokai’s premiere episode establishes everything that’s in the synopsis. It throws in a few jokes and monologues here and there but for the most part, it feels like a visual breakdown of the text above. The episode isn’t bad but at the same time, it rarely feels engaging or entertaining and I think part of that stems from the fact that Yokai projects a lot of its jokes in advance. So when the punch line hits, you’re left going ‘YEP i saw that coming’ instead of guffawing with laughter. There’s very little in the episode to take you by surprise, especially if you’ve read the synopsis, and that could make it dull.
Tom: Yokai definitely opens with a heavy focus on set up. The episode forces Yushi Inaba, our down to earth, relatable hero, into the situation that defines the rest of the series, namely forcing him to move into this haunted apartment complex. But unlike other Light Novel adaptations this season, Elegant Yokai plays it slow. Real slow. It plods its way through this lengthy, grounded set up, keeping itself very by the books to try and lend an air of honesty and relatability to things. Trouble is it really needs a few more colorful characters, or crafty dialogue if it’s going to be moving at such a snail’s pace.
Linny: A major plot point in the episode is how Inaba is desperate to move out in order to stop being such a burden on his uncle and his uncle’s family after they took him in as an orphan. He keeps mentioning and insinuating that he is certain they would prefer him gone, but barring his cousin, his uncle and aunt seem to have absolutely no ill will towards him. Maybe this is about how Inaba is only imagining their dislike for a later emotional catharsis. Also, at the start of the episode we find out that Inaba likes to engage in all out fist fights with his ‘supposed’ best friend but we’re never given any explanation as to why, which makes me want to make inappropriate jokes about how Inaba enjoys pounding his buddy. All these little things seem to lack a proper or believable explanation/justification. It might leave some viewers baffled and ultimately, not interested in continuing.
Tom: Problems or Oddities with the narrative aside, Yushi Inaba is likable enough. He’s down to earth, a kind of ‘everyman’ character most young viewers should be able to relate and identify with to some degree. The only thing that really sets him apart, outside of the fist fighting, is his tragic backstory, briefly touched upon in this episode. While the tragedy of his circumstances help to make him endearing, it still feels a tad stale, especially in his reactions to the increasing fantastical oddities around him. I’d comment on other characters, of which there seem to be quite a few, but this episode only features brief introductions and even those are more geared towards the characters guiding Inaba further into this supernatural scenario.
Linny: The positive twist on the supporting cast having so little screen time is that there’s the chance they could add a lot to the show’s charm once we’re past the plot establishing premiere. For now though, it’s hard to really gauge, not only the true appeal of these characters but also the full role they’ll play in the plot and in relation to our main character.
Tom: One big issue I have that’s keeping me from getting even mildly sucked in is the art. Elegant Yokai features a kind of drab and dry art style. Colors lack pop, designs feel plain. I find my eye wandering all too often and that’s a real problem. That said I think what Yokai has here is a passable start. It’s not bad, nor offensive, just lacking. I do think it’s entirely possible, once the series refocuses on character, that it could improve tremendously from what we see here.
Linny: What helps keep Yokai promising is partly the fact that, so far, the summer season hasn’t had any amazing stand outs. That’s not to say Yokai has nothing to offer but its bland manner of establishing its plot, a less than eye catching art style and color palette raise its chances of ending up on the mediocre pile at best. If you’re intrigued by the sound of a semi comedic tale of a college student forced to move into an apartment complex overrun with ghostly inhabitants, by all means, give this a chance. Just be prepared for a sluggish and disjointed start.
Elegant Yokai Apartment Life is available for streaming via Crunchyroll