Youkai Apartment no Yuuga na Nichijou – 09

There’s a funny sort of dichotomy to Youkai Apartment no Yuuga na Nichijou (which is, by the way, yet another of those very good summer shows that’s getting almost no attention).  Of course it has rather a broad tonal range from light-hearted and earnest to rather dark, as many youkai-centric anime do.  But it also has many moments where it’s both of those extremes at the same time, which is considerably more unusual.  That’s definitely one of the themes surrounding Kotbuki-so, this sense of different worlds walking hand in glove with each other.  And this episode dealt with that in some rather subtle ways.

One element that hasn’t gotten a tremendous amount of attention so far is Yuushi’s school life, though there are signs that’s about to change.  There’s the matter of having Fool in his pocket for new second-year Yuushi to deal with.  There are also signs that Tashiro-san has developed feelings for him, and that Yuushi’s general popularity with the girls is going to cause him problems with the boys.  But the main MacGuffin in this setting seems to be Miura-sensei, the new English teacher, who could hardly be more obviously flagged as trouble.  Yuushi’s newfound connection to the spiritual world is what allows him to see this, no doubt – but that also puts him in a position of responsibility to do something about it.

Back at Kotobuki-so, Hase-kun is visiting – though that seems to be pretty much an everyday occurrence at this point, which makes the big news the return of Ryuu-san.  Hase himself is attuned enough to pick up on Ryuu’s spiritual power, and quite naturally he (like Yuushi) immediately puts the cool older dude in a position of inspiring considerable awe.  Since the adults at the apartment will take pretty much any excuse to have a party, it’s hardly a surprise that the return of Ryuu-san is more than sufficient.

The interesting part of all this for me is when the adults at the party – Ryuu, Furuhonya, Reimei – begin to talk about some genuinely harrowing experiences in their past with seeming good humor.  Ryuu tells of the time he tried to negotiate the surrender of a cannibal(!) cult in the U.S. Southwest, only to have the entire cult blow themselves up.  Furuhonya owns up that he was shot twice by Peruvian bandits while trying (and failing) to retrieve a sacred text.  And Reimei casually notes that a crazed stalker tried to murder-suicide him at a book signing.  This is some pretty dark stuff – not least because a lot of it is reflected in real life – and seeing the others address it so casually is very striking for the boys.  It’s an odd lesson in being an adult, but sort of a powerful one if you look at it the right way.

The other notable occurrence is the introduction of Matajurou, an oni who lives in a “hidden village” in the high mountains.  His presence speaks rather powerfully to Yuushi, because he represents a time when creatures such as he lived side by side with humans – a time when human life was connected with the hidden world.  To Yuushi, whose existence has been so powerfully changed by living that way, this represents something tragic.  But that the past can’t be returned to and accepting one’s reality is an essential step to successfully navigating it are two more of those adult lessons.

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