Just what is it with Nakamura Yuuichi and tanuki, anyway?
Youkai Apartment no Yuuga na Nichijou continues its stealth attack, following happily in the path of many similar anime which came before. It’s eerie how often we see this pattern repeat itself – wistful Shinto-themed fantasy series which start out measuredly, making you think they’re pleasant but lightweight, only to gradually convince you otherwise. I’m certainly not putting this one on the same shelf as the likes of Gingitsune yet, but it has a chance – and it’s certainly proving to be much more interesting than a boilerplate LN adaptation.
Often (as was the case with Gingitsune, as it happens) it’s the arrival of a new character which acts as the catalyst for a series to level up. Hase-kun isn’t a “new” character, but he was a minor presence in the first several episodes – it’s really only in the last couple that he’s become the central figure the OP and ED promised. He’s an interesting kid in his own right, but equally as important is the impact his presence has on Yuushi – Hase is really the only person around which he feels like he can be himself.
As expected, Hase is outwardly quite unruffled to be in the presence of youkai, ghosts and spirits – what Yuushi shows him doesn’t seem to faze him (apart from Hanako-san). And he’s quite the social sophisticate, too – he brings gifts for the residents, each appropriate for their nature (even a jar of hand cream for Ruriko, the most moe hands this season). Hase-kun is a big hit with all the residents, but especially Kuri, who takes a shine to him right away. It’s only later, in the safe haven of Yuushi’s room, that Hase admits he’s been pretty freaked out the whole day (and the day before, too) – only putting on a brave face for his friend’s sake.
It’s rather moving, really, just how much Hase’s approval means to Yuushi-kun. He’s come to love his new life, and so badly wants to be able to have Hase be a part of it. There’s a strong fraternal bond between these two, certainly – is there more? Who knows – I think the comments Hase made after Kuri crawled into bed between them were meant in jest, but on whatever level you ascribe it to, it’s clear the idea of being a family is very appealing to both Hase and Yuushi (and obviously Kuri, too).
It’s also worth nothing that Hase isn’t the only mage (well – I guess he isn’t one yet) at Kotobuki-so. Furuhon-ya is one as well, with his own magic text – “Seven Sages” – that he’s obviously far more in control of than Yuushi is of his (for now). But Hase is clearly getting stronger, as Fool notes when Yuushi calls for Sirene to sing a lullaby to Kuri. As Yushi grows stronger, it seems, the power of the spirits in his book will increase as well. It’s almost certainly no coincidence that Yuushi ended up at Kotobuki-so – it’s clearly the best place for someone with his spiritual powers to learn how to live with them, and some sort of invisible hand seems to have guided him there.