Elegant Yokai Apartment Life Episodes 6 + 7: Well, guess that secret is out.

Review Episode 6:

Another resident returns to the apartment (seriously, how many residents are there not living in the complex) and he happens to collect and sell books. Of course one of the books is a bit odd and Inaba and then exorcist girl (who doesn’t ever seem to actually do any exorcisms) noticed.

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Despite her taking the book to be checked out it then shows up in Inaba’s bedroom and hey, turns out it is full of spirits and Inaba is now their master. Only most the spirits in the book seem pretty useless.

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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. However, Hase shows up at the end to save the episode. It seems like Inaba wants to tell him about the apartment but he’s struggling and then after Hase picks a fight with some thugs (as you do) they get chased and the book shows up again kind of outing Inaba’s secret whether he wanted to tell Hase then or not.

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This of course leaves the whole episode on a cliff-hanger but I’m not that annoyed by it. If the last five minutes hadn’t happened this would have been a pretty pointless and dull episode so I was just kind of happy something happened in the end.

Review Episode 7:

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Plunging boldly forward (I’m joking), the show chooses to put the Inaba and Hase conversation about the random spirit on hold while they deal with the thugs, which would make sense except they wrap that up pretty quick and then Hase still kind of leaves without an actual explanation. Nor does he offer any explanation as to his own apparent knowledge, though Inaba is a particular kind of dense given he’s impressed with a fairly rudimentary magic fact.

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Which leads us on to the cutest of the spirits summoned so far. At the behest of the apartment’s occupants, and because cheap jokes are so much better than progressing a plot according to the writers of this increasingly hard to defend show, Inaba summons Death, Thanatos and get’s this cute little guy.

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Seriously, I want one.

Outside of that, the show then goes through a spiritual training sequence that is pretty stock standard before they decide to leave us on another cliff-hanger with Hase dramatically announcing on the phone that he is visiting the apartment. Or at least, that would be dramatic if they hadn’t really shown the outcome of that visit in their preview. This show  makes some truly baffling choices.


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Elegant Yokai Apartment Life Episodes 4 + 5: Too Much Guilt, Too Little Soul

Review Episode 4:

I do not get what the point of this is. He leaves the apartment when the student dorm is built but why? What does he gain? And given he regrets it from pretty much the first instant, why is it several months later at the end of the episode and he still hasn’t moved back? Even if we just focus on this from a plot point of view, it is obvious he has to move back or else the title of the anime makes zero sense (not that anime titles are known for always making sense). So isn’t this just a contrived filler plot to try to make us realise how happy he was at the apartment even though they haven’t really shown us enough interactions for us to get the sense that he was particularly happy there?

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The other plot involving his classmate made even less sense. Why is he feeling a sense of personal guilt over that moron’s life choices?

All and all, this show remains strictly watch if you have spare time only and the protagonist is about as interesting as watching paint dry. Some of the other characters are more interesting but they aren’t getting a great deal of screen time.

Review Episode 5:

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.

Yokai5aDuring episode 5, Inaba goes through 4 real encounters with characters we’ve met and each one gives him some profound insight into himself or humanity leading to the ultimate conclusion he should of course go back to the apartment. Wait… what was that? His roommate is a jerk to him leading him to tears when he meets up with ghost office worker because he can’t make friends with this one guy and this is supposed to make me think… I have no idea.

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Ghost guy lays on some wisdom about humans and Inaba kind of agrees and reacts like something totally unthought of before has been revealed and then we catch up with the friend who had the punch up with him in episode 1 (I am yet to figure out how he is significant to Inaba or the story and the show does not seem interested in establishing any kind of connection other than he’s the guy Inaba was writing the letters to). He also has some fortune cookie wisdom to lay out there before we get the obligatory fist bump moment between two male friends in an anime and they part ways.

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Lastly, we get a sobbing Eriko who is all upset because Inaba must have been sad when he lived with her family. Wait, this is how we’re going to reconcile the whole miserable home life from the start thing (which other than being told was uncomfortable, we never really knew why it was so bad)?

All of this leads to his return to the apartment where the residents throw a party because clearly he has such a sparkling personality and forged such a deep connection with them they’ve missed him dreadfully.

This show wants to gives us some feels but all I’m really feeling is underwhelmed.


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Elegant Yokai Apartment Life Episodes 2 + 3: This Anime is in Need of a Better Protagonist

Review Episode 2:

Inaba is getting used to the apartment and meeting more of the residents but there are two things that stop me from really getting into this episode early on. Despite all the different kinds of yokai literally floating around the apartment complex the only characters we’re really engaging with are either human or are ghosts with pretty much human appearance. It’s an incredibly wasted opportunity and while Inaba might later on interact more with the other residents, at this point it is more like he’s just kind of hovering on the edge of the complex rather than living in it. The second reason I’m not loving it is Inaba himself.

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We get a brief glimpse of his background but he is kind of dull as a protagonist and even as a character he is more random classmate number 7 rather than someone you would pay attention to. The end of this episode kind of tried to bring in some needed drama and tension but mostly this episode was a bit of a snore.

Review Episode 3:

The third episode was far more enjoyable but I’m still not really enjoying the protagonist here. And I’m not really sure what random classmate guy is up to but I’m guessing something because otherwise he is just a really annoying character.

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This episode definitely hit a more emotional tone but they were working overtime to hit you with that. Cute kid ghost, tragic childhood and early death, pursued even after death by a mother who no longer remembers even being human… They were seriously driving home the ‘feels’ part of the story.

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All and all, this show has so far been watchable but hasn’t really managed to be anything particularly special. It would be fine if it stayed this way as I’d watch through the season, but I’d really like to see it improve and make use of the introduced characters and a setting that should be inherently interesting but is so far kind of just okay.


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Elegant Yokai Apartment Life Episode 1: Human Enters Apartment Full of Ghosts With Expected Results

Overview:

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!

– From Crunchyroll.

Review:

This is one show I was actually looking forward to this season, not so much because I thought it would be good, but because I just like these kinds of stories. This first episode gave me pretty much what I expected as we first meet Inaba and his friend (who is kind of suspicious), we get some exposition dumping about why he needs to find a place to stay and then we go to the apartment in question which seems perfectly normal (if a little creepy) and then it isn’t.

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So pretty much everything in this first episode was okay. The introduced characters seem like they’ll be interesting enough, the apartment building and its residents and visitors seems like it will provide enough fodder for stories, and things seem to be moving along nicely. There’s nothing exceptional at all about this as a first episode but it still worked for me and I’m looking forward to future episodes. The one real positive though is that some of the scenes here are really pretty. Hopefully that can continue throughout the rest of the season.

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Natsume Yuujinchou Roku Series Review

Overview:

After six seasons now, most of us know the story. If you are new to Natsume, check out the review of seasons 1 – 4 and the review of season 5. As much as I love this show, diving in at season 6 is definitely going to make this a fairly complex story as all of the relationships being dealt with are now pre-established.

Natsume can see yokai and because of this he was isolated for most of his childhood. Having made a new beginning when he was taken in by the Fujiwaras, Natsume has slowly been building connections with both human and yokai as he learns how to live and to accept himself for who he is.

I reviewed this show week to week so if you are interested in my episode thoughts click here.

Review:

I’m actually going to keep this one relatively short or otherwise it is just going to turn into a gush about how much I love this show. I think that’s the true beauty of Natsume though. Season after season and I still love just the sweet and relaxing nature of the story and just enjoy spending time with these characters. They really do feel like old friends a and a new season is just a chance to catch up with how they are all going.

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Getting the usual stuff out of the way, I am going to say that I absolutely loved the music and the art this season. While Natsume openings are always mello and relaxing, this season just added a slight bit of upbeat to it and I came out the otherside of the opening smiling every single week. I don’t remember who, but someone actually analysed the flowers used in every scene in the opening on their blog and there’s a lot of detail and thought that has gone in to that opening sequence. I wish I could remember the link to that blog post because that was a really great break down. The art is the usual style for Natsume so fairly soft and relaxing. It isn’t overly detailed but it isn’t overly simplistic either. It just strikes a nice balance.

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There were a couple of moments throughout the season where Natsume himself looked a bit off. Sometimes it was his face looking a bit too sharp or a certain movement didn’t quite fit with the scene, but for the most part season 6 looks amazing. At times there are some truly vibrant and dazzling colours but those darker moments still hit home, all of this contrasting nicely with the usual muted colour scheme.

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As usual the characters are the big draw with Natori and Natsume’s relationship stealing the lion’s share of this season. That isn’t to say we don’t still get the occasional yokai of the week, a return of a childhood friend, a focus on Natsume’s school friends, some Reiko and Nyanko-Sensei, but really there are a lot of episodes focussing on Natori this season and how he sees Natsume and Natsume’s relationship with Yokai. For me this is a major plus and probably part of the reason I would say this season is my favourite ever. Natori is a great character. He experienced a similar childhood to Natsume but rather than befriending a yokai he found his way to the exorcists. As a result, he has an understandable resentment toward most yokai and finds Natsume’s softer approach a little hard to understand. That said, he understands that Natsume can’t give up the connections he’s made at this point as they are a necessary part of Natsume. Anyway, the play between the two is fantastic and while this series doesn’t resolve Natori’s intentions, it certainly gives the audience a lot to think about in regards to the two characters.

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Reiko is also a common feature, as always, though I must say the Reiko focussed episode this season was possibly the weakest for me. I found myself not overly invested in her trial. While I’m interested in Natsume learning more about the book and I’m interested in learning more about Reiko as she got older, the episode just felt very much like a filler side quest. If this was live action I’d suggest the actor playing Natsume got sick and they rewrote the lead to be a flash back for his grandmother.

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Another win this season was the ongoing development of the themes of self-discovery, acceptance, and friendship. These are beautifully handled and while occasionally Natsume’s monologues may feel you are getting hit over the head with the message, you realise that Natsume is quite emotionally dense due to his strange upbringing so sometimes he needs to process what has happened and sort out his emotions. From that point of view, his observations make sense and don’t feel quite so forced.

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Basically, I loved this season of Natsume. I would love to know another season is coming and coming soon. If you’ve never tried the show you really should give it a go.

If you watched season 6, let me know your thoughts below.


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Natsume Yuujinchou Season 6 Episode 11

Review – Some spoilers:

Can we get a season 7 announcement, please?

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This episode resumes the hunt for the study and as usual Natsume’s keen eyes and a deeper understanding of yokai and those who can clearly see yokai find the necessary clues that eventually lead the group to the study door. That said, Natori does have a moment of doubt about whether he should hear what Natsume has to say regarding the Book of Friends later in the episode.

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So as much as Natori continues to play the understanding guy they are leaving his character and his relationship to Natsume ambiguous right to the end. I find it fascinating how this show didn’t resolve this point but still made this feel satisfying. We did take another step in this relationship with Natsume ultimately explaining the situation with Reiko to Natori and we heard Natori’s response. First the one he said clearly to Natsume:

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And then the one he made sure Natsume didn’t hear:

It isn’t exactly a declaration that Natori is going to try to take the book or destroy it, but it kind of indicates Natori isn’t just going to say, ‘cool, you’re grandmother left you a really dangerous book’. It will be interesting to see how this progresses, assuming of course we get more of this show.

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The other point that has to be mentioned is that for the first time a yokai has suggested knowing a male relative of Natsume. We kind of knew he had to have family other than Reiko and his dead parents but they’ve never been mentioned. And as Natsume wonders later, what connection did a former relative of his have with the exorcists? It is obvious that Nanase of the Matoba clan had some sort of relationship with Reiko other than the one childhood encounter we’ve seen, but is Natsume more closely tied to the exorcists than he realises?

So this season is done and I’m really happy with how it has gone but will do a full review soon. That said, this is a show I always want more of.


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Natsume Yuujinchou Season 6 Episode 10

Review:

Is there really only one more episode of this? Really? And the next season is…?

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For a second last episode of the season, episode 10 of Natsume Yuujinchou pulled out all the punches. We are dealing with exorcists again and Natori most definitely did not forget about the Book of Friends.

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That said, this episode seems to be positioning us to see him as an actual friend and given he’s been covered in shades of grey as to where his true motives lie for a fair while it would be nice to think that is true. Though there’s always the chance of another twist in the tale.

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But in case exorcists searching a mansion for a study full of spells while Natori gently probes Natsume for hints about what he has via Hiiragi is not enough to keep you entertained in what is normally a much more relaxing story, lets throw in some Reiko stuff just to bring everything together. About the only part of Natsume’s life that gets left out here is his normal school life and normal human friends but that probably would have been pushing it to incorporate that as well.

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That said, though, this is another two parter story so we’ll just have to wait until next week to see how this all plays out but I couldn’t be happier with how this season seems to be finishing up. My only complaint is that it is finishing.


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Natsume Yuujinchou Roku Episode 6

Review:

I can honestly say that of all the recurring characters in Natsume, Nishimura and Kitamoto were probably the two I gave the least amount of thought too. So here comes an episode that puts these generic classmate and normal human friends of Natsume in the spot light by flashing back to Natsume transferring into the class.

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Normally this is a sequence you would see way back as a very first episode or at least a flash back in the first season. Anime loves the transfer student introduction scene and Natsume had never done it (although we had seen Natsume start at another school in a flashback if I remember correctly).

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Anyway, while I’d never given these two characters much thought, I’d always kind of liked them, and now, in true Natsume fashion, I completely love them. Nishimura’s insight into Natsume’s fake smiles and Kitamoto’s stoic nature as he deals with his own problems but still manages to know what is going on around him were just kind of perfect. They fit with what we already knew about these two characters and made them feel incredibly real.

Great episode.


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Natsume Yuujincho Roku Episode 5

Review:

I love this show. I always have and this episode really hit every reason why I love this show. The relationship between Natori and Natsume has always felt real and quite complicated this so much left unsaid between them (though the same could be said of every relationship between major characters in this show).

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There’s no doubt Natori actually has some genuine worries for Natsume’s safety but he is, first and foremost, an exorcist and one who does not trust the yokai. It has been a point of contention between the two from the beginning in how to deal with certain situations and last week Natori overheard that Natsume has something (apparently he doesn’t know what it is but he kind of knows it has to be powerful). So, his final line this week is kind of concerning in terms of where this relationship will go in the future (but at the same time kind of brilliant in terms of what it could do for the story).

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However, if that is too much drama in the Slice of Life, cavity inducing cuteness that is Natsume, focus instead of Nyanko and how adorable and compliant he was being this episode.

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Can I have one?

Natsume Yuujincho is available on Crunchyroll.


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Natsume Yuujinchou Season 6 Episode 4

Review:

I really do love the episodes where Natori or the other exorcists are involved. The added conflict Natsume faces not just between yokai and human but the different ways humans approach yokai really does give this series a little bit of drama and usually it comes with some a bit more tension and danger than the other episodes of this mostly sweet show.

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Once again, Natsume has stuck his nose into Natori’s business and there’s a good chance Natori has overheard a yokai stating that Natsume has the Book of Friends, one of the few secrets Natsume has kept from Natori because of his torn emotions when thinking about how Natori might react. It will be interesting to see next episode (it was TBC) whether they choose to finally get into this given its been a continuous point of contention for Natsume in regards to his friendship with Natori or whether they decide to put that conflict on the shelf for yet another season given both the characters seem happy enough not to address it.

Looking forward to the next part of this particular story (which actually concerns some ex-exorcist’s house and his daughter, but to be honest I’m finding the relationship between Natori and Natsume more interesting than the current monster of the week).

Natsume Yuujinchou is available on Crunchyroll.


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