The 2017 anime adaptation of Elegant Yokai Apartment Life offers viewers a new way to experience a beloved story which began as a Light Novel series by Hinowa Kozuki (2003), and then a manga (2011).
It's easy to see the appeal to this story, Inaba, our main character, is an orphan & wants to leave the house of his relatives where he feels he has become a financial burden. But when there is a fire in the student dorms he finds himself scrambling to find a place he can afford.
Luck lands him in an affordable room in a stately boarding house, the catch? It is full of yokai.
The first few episodes have a similar feel to The Kawai Complex Guide to Morals and Hostel Behavior, with Inaba wanting a low key high school life, but getting tossed into a boarding house full of wacky residents, making that impossible.
We follow Inaba through his decision making process on whether or not to stay in the boarding house. We also get to learn the back story of some of the Yokai inhabitants, a la Morose Mononokean or Natsume Yuujinchou.
The plot splits time between boarding house drama and school life drama.
It's all very Slice of Life, entertaining, heartwarming, & familiar -- in a comfortable way. The residents, yokai & human, feel like friends.
Lots of humor is woven into the story.
Then episode 6 hits you with a new plot line, which if you haven't read the source material (like me) might blindside you a bit, because it switches up the pacing of the show dramatically.
Inaba finds himself with the potential to become an exorcist, and join the ranks of the other human residents of the Yokai Apartment. The comedy sticks around in the form of the very minor, slightly useless, spirits which Inaba has at his command.
It took me a few episodes to acclimate to the new plot, which takes us a little further from slice of life territory and into action/mystery, but it is clear that this new plot has the potential for new story arcs to come.
I definitely enjoyed the first half of the show more than the second half. In the second half, the plot becomes heavily centered on school drama, which I found less interesting than the boarding house drama.
The characters in this anime are really simple and slightly generic I ncluding our hardworking and earnest main character, Inaba, who looks and acts like an every man.
Upbeat female senpai, and housemate, worthy of admiration, Akine.
Wise author who only wears traditional clothing, Isshiki.
Best friend, who is wealthier and higher achieving, who Inaba can turn to, Hase.
Heavy drinking, sexy, older female (ghost), Mariko.
Older cool guy, Fukase.
But that's only to name a few. This show has a big cast, including characters who only show up for a certain arc.
The art is so clean looking that it's almost sterile. The outlines are heavy, everything is symmetrical, and bright colors contrast against the often dark backgrounds. It really reminds me of Brothers Conflict (2013), which was done by the studio Brain's Base.
It looks great when panning scenery though.
The Anime that Missed it's Time to Shine
Overall, I think this anime would have felt more innovative if it came out sooner.
The Light Novel was published in 2003. Natsume Yuujinchou wasn't published until 2005. Mushishi ended in 2002, and wasn't released in anime until 2005. Kawai Complex.. ran in 2010. The Fruits Basket anime came out in 2006. The original Kino's Journey came out in 2003, for a slice of life anime comparison from the time.
So really, Elegant Yokai Apartment Life was before a lot of the stories which I am inclined to compare it to now.
I'm giving this anime 3/5 stars because it really is a middle of the road sort of watch. That being said, I think it is worth the watch, once you know what you're getting yourself into. Knowing it's history gives it more weight.
Expect a comedy slice of life with an exorcist adventure tossed in too.
Did you watch this anime while it aired last season? Have you read the novels or manga? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section down below!
Thanks for reading!
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