Supernatural antics and down-to-earth charm collide.
Kodansha Comics’ Elegant Yokai Apartment Life stars a high schooler named Yushi who lives in an apartment complex full of ghosts, spirits, and all manner of supernatural creatures. Based on novels by Hinowa Kouzuki and featuring art by Waka Miyama, the series grounds these otherworldly concepts with relatable character development and poignant moral lessons. Vol. 6 features chapters 26-30 and significantly fleshes out Yushi’s work life at a shipping company. Does this volume successfully expand Yushi’s world while still delivering the charming supernatural hijinks that fans have come to expect?
As previously mentioned, significant portions of this volume are devoted to Yushi’s work life. Fortunately, these scenes are among the volume’s best. One of the greatest strengths across the series’ latest volumes has been their attention to various facets of Yushi’s life. Vol. 6 continues this trend, and as a result Yushi keeps growing into a more dynamic character. His interactions with two socially challenged co-workers are charming, as they sincerely address communication problems without shaming people who have said problems. There are a few points where the writing gets a little hokey during its discussion of technology, but Kouzuki and Miyama never steer completely into “Those young whippersnappers with their cellphones!” territory.
Besides the workplace development, this volume’s biggest strength is its artwork. I feel like a broken record when I talk about Miyama’s art in my reviews because he’s consistently so good at the same things in every volume. Most of the characters have good designs and are rendered with little details that hep bring them to life. The shading throughout the volume is particularly excellent, whether it be moonlight twinkling on the yokai apartment’s foliage or the shine to Yushi’s hair. Miyama also does a good job transferring the characters’ joys over to the reader, as food and drinks that the characters love also look delicious on the page. Another visual standout in this volume is Yushi’s revelation scene; it’s easy to believe a character is having a mystical experience when Miyama draws it beautifully.
As far as the plot outside of Yushi’s work life goes, this volume is a bit disappointing. Hase is back, and while I like the character, I can’t help but feel like his relationship with Yushi has gotten a little stagnant. He’s existed solely as Yushi’s friend for six volumes, and I’m ready to see him receive a proper character arc of his own. With that said, my biggest gripe with this volume pertains to its final chapter. Yushi prevents a young woman from committing suicide, and while the subject matter isn’t handled tactlessly, it doesn’t probe particularly deeply either. I hope that future volumes will develop the character more interestingly than this one does.
Overall, Elegant Yokai Apartment Life Vol. 6 is a fun and emotionally satisfying read. The various aspects of Yushi’s life continue to get fleshed out, making him feel seem more multifaceted as a result. The volume’s art is lovely as well, and there’s some charming discussion of how just someone having difficulty communicating doesn’t mean that they don’t want to connect with others. With that said, the portions of this volume that don’t take place at Yushi’s workplace are fairly bland and some of the characters could use more development. Nonetheless, this is yet another good installment for the consistently poignant series.