The Wandering Witch Visits Elegant Yokai Apartments

Posted on Jul 19 2017


Welcome, all, again. I am very happy to report that we have entered into a new viewing season, one that seems to offer a wider variety and much greater number of entertaining shows. And one such newcomer is Elegant Yokai Apartment Life, a show which follows a young man’s sudden insertion into the supernatural via his new domestic arrangements. There have been a number of shows lately that focus upon yokai, but this is probably the most engaging since Kiitaro’s Yokai Picture Diary, and even follows a similar premise: a young man is removed from his family’s home and begins living amongst a collection of the monsters that populate Japanese folklore. But many of these beings aren’t monstrous at all, nor is our protagonist Inaba Yushi the only human living in these peculiar apartments.


Our story begins with Inaba Yushi graduating middle school and preparing to enter a residential high school in order to escape living at his uncle’s house, where he has been since his parents died three years before. But Yushi’s family left no money behind to be used for his care, so he feels that he has been a burden to his uncle’s family, a feeling not at all alleviated by his cousin’s open hostility towards him. Only his aunt seems genuinely concerned about him, and he feels unwelcome in his current home. Sudden tragedy strikes when the residential dorm of his new high school burns down, threatening to strand him with his relatives for months longer while the dorm is rebuilt. He doesn’t have the money to rent an actual apartment, nor is he of legal age to do so. And while he can’t stand the idea of remaining in his unhappy home, what choice does he have?

Apparently, the choice of taking a haunted apartment from a leasing agent who doesn’t care about legal niceties such as age, proof of income, etc. Yushi has gone over to the dark side without really believing in it, but is about to learn a few life lessons for his trouble. Things like, “beware of making deals with shady leasing agents.” Yushi is warned that his new residence is both unusual and haunted, but he is so desperate to leave his current living situation that he really couldn’t care less. Go ahead, bring on these so-called yokai! And, indeed, they are waiting to welcome him into their midst. Fellow residents of his new home throw him a welcoming party, and he almost instantly begins to question his decision to move–just not enough to reverse it.


Having committed to his move, Yushi begins to explore his new home and spend time with its various tenants, discovering a mix of yokai and alleged humans. Because despite dwindling belief in them and encroaching human presence, yokai continue to move through our world in pursuit of their own interests. Likewise, some humans have business within the supernatural realm and with its peoples. And it so happens that the apartment building Kotobuki-so is a place where the two realms overlap, allowing the intermingling of beings from both. Here, ghosts can even become solid again. Kotobuki-so seems a place of tolerance and mutual respect, to the point that an exorcist can co-exist with beings whom she might normally be called upon to banish.


And this brings me to one of the show’s weaker points, its failure to more deeply explore the yokai who are in residence. While I understand that this is very much Yushi’s show, it seems a pity to have so many yokai present without making more of an effort to flesh some of them out. Three episodes in, and the only ones for whom we have a real backstory are the child/dog pair of Kuri and Shiro, both ghosts. On a related note, however, I deeply appreciate the decision to in many instances fail to distinguish at all between human and yokai, leaving the nature of many residents in doubt. This emphasizes the truism that we very rarely have more than superficial knowledge about many of our neighbors, wherever we might live. It adds just the right dash of realism to the situation.

I like the (familiar) premise of this show, and storyline is catching up nicely. The first episode was admittedly slow, even for slice-of-life exposition, and I didn’t care for Yushi’s brush with supernatural ability in episode 2–I think that his life with yokai might be more interesting should he remain a completely normal human. But episode 2 did pick up the pace, and episode 3 is running on all cylinders! Meanwhile, lackluster artwork on the yokai might be intentional, to emphasize their poorly understood natures. This show has both a lot going for it and a lot of room for improvement. It also has heart! And my vote of confidence.

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