Friday’s Feature: Stories Without Soul

Those who have been following my episodic reviews will know that I’ve been increasingly less than thrilled with Elegant Yokai Apartment Life this season. And what is interesting is that this is a sentiment shared by most people who are watching it (or at least the ones who seem to be reviewing it) and we’re all just kind of scratching our heads as to what has gone so horribly wrong with the show.

But then I went back through my episode reviews and what I realise was that outside of the boy finds out that yokai are real and has to learn to live with them set up which is kind of inherently interesting, nothing else in this show has been impressive, interesting, or well delivered. Even back in my episode 5 review I was being pretty harsh about the delivery of the ‘poignant’ moments the show attempts to foist upon its audience.

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This show thinks it understands what makes these kind of slice of life, feel good, healing stories work and on paper it kind of does. What it does not understand is how to deliver it to the audience in a way that makes us care in the slightest about what is going on. – Epsiode 5

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Admittedly, this show was going to struggle with comparisons to significantly greater works. Boy learning to live with yokai? Go watch Natsume. Want something a bit darker? Try Nurarihyon no Mago which I’m currently rewatching so that I can review it. Want a real slice of life supernatural story? Flying Witch. I didn’t even like Flying Witch and I would still recommend that as a watch over this one.

It is a pretty dull episode really, just going through the motions of introduce new character and weird object and then have the cheap comedy of the spirits in the book. – Episode 6

Because Elegant Yokai Apartment Life has no soul. When I finally have to review the show, it is going to be a struggle. The show should work. Fundamentally it has everything it needs to work. You have the two world’s colliding, coming of age story with boy who also has a childhood friend and their relationship should be evolving, and then you have as many yokai and yokai related problems as you need to actually inject the occasional bit of conflict into the show if you get sick of real world problems… and yet this show has not managed to do anything.

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There’s a minor moment of maybe something will happen when the book guy brings another weird thing into the apartment but that is a moment of tension quickly killed off and then we resume the nothing happening tone that kind of predominates in this series. – Episode 8

While I’d like to believe this one is just a slow burn what I have to concede is that it has nothing more to give us. The show had a premise but the narrative choices all the way along have been to the detriment of character and plot and the show can’t even manage a consistent atmosphere. I don’t think anyone in the audience knows if we are actually supposed to be worried about the yokai or if they are all just happy go lucky drunkards. The one ghost of note turned out to really have nothing in the end and even the currently probably possessed teacher (ep 9 – 10) isn’t really enough to convince me that something is going to happen.

Things just kind of happen and some of it might end up being significant and some of it is just stuff. – Episode 9

Unfortunately, Elegant Yokai Apartment Life isn’t the only show to suffer from this lack of energy, soul, or just ability to deliver the story they are trying to tell. Knight’s & Magic at least feels like someone has a lot of love for the project (or at least Ernesti) but the delivery has been increasingly poor and it has gotten to the point where you just can’t overlook how little the show seems to respect its own audience. It wants to tell us things but it seldom shows us and even when it does let us be involved in one of the critical moments it is usually done in a flash and then the narrator sweeps us along to the next event rather than dealing with the fall out.

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Summer 2017 hasn’t been a great anime season for me. I haven’t dropped very much, but there are a lot of these shows that are seemingly tolerable but not good. Which is a shame because there is so much potential in the premise of so many of these shows and yet they’ve really not managed to deliver.

I’d love to know your thoughts on the shows this season or any anime where you loved the concept but the show just came across as hollow.


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Thanks,

Karandi James.

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18 thoughts on “Friday’s Feature: Stories Without Soul

  1. I dropped Yokai apartment midway through episode 3.

    I think you sum it up pretty well in saying there’s no soul to it, which is a terrible shame because as you said they did have a lot of elements that could lead to interesting stories. Their delivery through the first three episodes, however, didn’t leave me with a lot of hope for it. That and I didn’t really like looking at it, which never helps. Knight’s & Magic had the opposite problem, where everything was rush rush rush and no viewer investment in anything.

    One useful thing to talk about that might help for a final review is to examine what pieces were there that did/could have held promise and why you felt the anime didn’t deliver them. That’s generally how I approach something I didn’t enjoy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Other than Inaba himself, I actually don’t mind the look of yokai apartment. It isn’t exceptional, but it kind of works.
      Knight’s & Magic definitely forgot about their viewership. Given the pace and how quickly events are brushed past, the fact that we never really get to see the aftermath or character impact of anything because the narrator drags us forward again, it just isn’t asking us to care about anything and is actively seeking to skim over everything.
      Thanks for the review suggestion. I may need it this season given how many shows I am watching that while they aren’t bad, just aren’t very good.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I completely agree with everything that you’ve said. Normally, I would have dropped the show a while back, but I just keep hoping that something, anything interesting will happen. The first episode was very interesting and with the second episode, I had hoped that maybe something akin to Natsume’s Book of Friends may develop, yet it’s been a huge incoherent disaster. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think you know what I think about this show. The thing is, when I first started watching it, I saw opinions here and there- people who had read the manga and were sort of excited about the show. Which makes me wonder if the source material is actually good and if the director just doesn’t know how to handle this concept.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s certainly interesting ideas here and it isn’t as though there aren’t other similar stories that haven’t been done well (sorry, that was a lot of negatives in one sentence). Still, the execution of this particular story has definitely left me feeling pretty indifferent to anything that is happening at the moment.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I think I found it so disappointing because unlike most other shows I had some expectations for this one. It seemed like the kind of story I should really love. It isn’t as bas as some of the shows I’m watching, but it is the one that I feel the most disappointed by.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Frankly, this week’s reviews of penultimate episodes are mostly ending up in the same vein… So much wasted promise practically across the board.

    When it comes to odness happening in a small room, you can’t miss Invaders of the Rokujyōma!? though.

    Like

      1. I wasn’t supposed to watch it, it wasn’t on my seasonal list, but someone told me about it and I figure I would just check it out . It want to be supernatural, but to me it’s just the kind of show I will watch when I’m tired and I don’t wanna think, trying to figuring how what is happening.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. This one is just a ramble. I still have to figure out what I’ll do when the shows finish and I actually have to review them because at the moment I’m thinking those reviews are going to be pretty snarky.

      Liked by 1 person

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