One of my favorite feel-good comic series is easily Hinowa Kouzuki and Waka Miyama’s Elegant Yokai Apartment Life. From its first volume onward it’s impressed with lovely artwork, a likable protagonist, and life lessons that, though sometimes a bit hokey, hit home. The series’ eighth volume collects chapters 36-40, which introduce several new characters. There’s Naomi Chiaki and Haruka Aoki, a pair of new teachers at Yushi’s school, as well as Konatsu Yamamoto, a first-year student who joins the English literature club. Are these new characters introduced effectively? Does the series continue to deliver the cute art and sentimentality that have made it so engaging thus far?
Art-wise, Miyama delivers great work as always. The characters’ facial expressions and body language have always been enjoyable parts of this manga, and they continue to be so here. Miyama’s character work encapsulates a broad range of emotions from introspective calm (such as when Yushi ponders the difficulties and joys of life) to humorous agitation (when Yushi is surrounded by his more…unique neighbors). The inking and patterns throughout are also great as usual, giving the manga a look that brings out the lovely, awe-inspiring side of the supernatural. All in all, the visuals match the story’s tone very well.
As expected, this volume delivers plenty of emotionally charged moments. The most memorable section depicts a moon-viewing party attended by both humans and yokai. Many of the humans are supernatural in nature as well, however. An elderly woman recounts the details of her sad life to Yushi, but surprisingly expresses calm due to the lovely memories she was able to make toward its end. She then disappears in a stream of light– she was a ghost who attended the party as her final act on Earth. This scene is poignant, and the woman’s sense of peace and happiness is all the more hard-hitting because her past troubles weren’t downplayed whatsoever. There’s a sense of authenticity here that makes the emotional drama relatable.
As far as the new characters go, Yamamoto is easily the best. She adds some needed conflict to the oft mellow series, and her character archetype doesn’t feel redundant next to the rest of the cast. Chiaki and Aoki, meanwhile, don’t make much of an impression. Chiaki in particular seems similar to other characters already present, and he doesn’t play a unique role as of yet. With that said, there’s an old swindler toward the volume’s end who adds a sort of down-to-earth humor that provides a break from the story’s usual sappy tone. Though the manga’s emotional moments land effectively more often than not, they can get a bit monotonous at times. Kouzuki and Miyama tend to hit the same notes repeatedly and, while this emphasizes the story’s themes, it sometimes hinders the story’s sense of progression.
All in all, Elegant Yokai Apartment Life Vol. 8 delivers what the series always has: lovely art and sentimentality. There are multiple new characters introduced, some of whom add unique archetypes and humor to the story. Unfortunately, the other new characters are less captivating. The emotional moments also tend to approach their subject matter in similar ways that sometimes end up feeling monotonous. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a feel-good manga with pretty art then you can’t go wrong with this series.