Kodansha Comics’ Elegant Yokai Apartment Life Vol. 2 collects chapters six through ten of the comedy series, as well as a side story starring one of the supporting cast members. Writer Hinowa Kouzuki and artist Waka Miyama’s work on the series’ first volume impressed me greatly, so I’ve been looking forward to this second installment. Does it live up to the high expectations set by its predecessor?
Story-wise, most of this volume is solid. It begins with Yushi’s going away party at the yokai apartment, then follows his life in regular human society until he decides to move back. The portions of the volume where Yushi is living in normal society are the most poignant. He struggles with interpersonal communication, a desire to better himself, and feelings of having let down other people. These problems are easy to empathize with not just because they are common but also because Kouzuki does a great job establishing Yushi’s voice. There are also a few surprising but fun plot developments toward the volume’s end, to include Yushi gaining control over a grimoire.
As with volume one, Miyama’s work here is intricately detailed and full of charm. The rendering of light and shadow throughout is beautiful, especially where natural objects like leaves are concerned. The characters are also well-rendered. Yushi’s facial expressions and body language throughout are particularly well-done. From the shine of his eyes to the movement of his lips, every detail helps convey his inner turmoil. The new characters who come out of Yushi’s grimoire also have fun designs, especially Fool. From start to finish, this volume is a pleasure to look at.
There’s not a lot here that I can criticize. Visually, there are a couple of brief instances with clarity issues, but this never affects pivotal plot points. In terms of the story, I wish that the pacing was a bit less rapid. This series covers large swaths of time in relatively few pages, so I frequently suspect that the emotionally charged moments would be even more impactful if they received more build-up. I also wish that more of the yokai apartment’s residents had gotten time to shine this time around. As poignant as Yushi’s character development is, it still feels like a bit of a waste to have such a large supporting cast but not actually spend much time with them.
Overall, Elegant Yokai Apartment Life Vol. 2 is a satisfying follow-up to the series’ stellar first volume. Yushi continues to be a likable protagonist, and his emotional conflicts are excellently conveyed both in the dialogue and the artwork. Visually, there’s almost nothing wrong in this volume, and the new characters all have charming designs. Though I have some qualms with the pacing, I continue to love this series and look forward to its next installments.