Friday’s Feature: Stories Without Soul

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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. РEpisode 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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