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First Glance: Tonari no Yokai-san

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Manga Adaptation by LIDENFILMS
Streaming on Crunchyroll


To the pleasure of his human family, Buchio, a 20-year-old housecat from rural Japan, is resurrected as a nekomata in a world where humans and youkai live in harmony. Now, with the support of his fellow youkai neighbors, Buchio embarks on a voyage of self-discovery. A girl named Mutsumi, a member of his human family, just lost her father, most likely due to an enigmatic entity referred to as The Void. Her intense interest about her youkai pals now coexists with her sadness over a family member who vanished, and The Void’s impending menace weighs heavily on her otherwise peaceful small-town existence.

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Artemis’ verdict: Made For Me

I owe Glorio this one since Tonari no Youkai-san was not at all on my list of shows to watch this season. I don’t know why, but while I was organizing my personal first look schedule, I accidentally missed the title. Despite the fact that I went into this essentially blind, it’s still my favorite season opener to yet.

Granted, you’re definitely seeking in the wrong spot and will be pleasantly bored if you’re like action-packed television series or anime with a ton of plot-heavy tension or drama. However, Tonari no Youkai-san is highly recommended for anybody who has a deep affection for supernatural slice-of-life stories—that is, if you consider Natsume Yuujinchou to be among the greatest of all time. The concept itself is quite entertaining, almost subtly mocking the genre by fully embracing the setting; rather than the youaki merely coexisting peacefully with humans, existing on a separate spiritual plane and entering and exiting the human world at will, these guys are actual cohabitants in every conceivable way. They maintain employment. They do tedious paperwork. Their health insurance is youkai. If they were once more common creatures that were “reborn” as youkai, they attend school to discover what abilities they could have and how to employ them.

But Youkai-san really won me over in the second part of the program, when the subtly sad touches added a sense of mystery and a lot more gravity, better completing the human half of the ensemble and preventing the series from being too serious. All in all, I’m eager to see more and hopeful that the anime will manage to set itself apart from the plethora of contemporary youkai-focused films I’ve already watched.

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Jel’s verdict: Like a Good Neighbor

I thought this would be a lighthearted, enjoyable slice of life program about hanging out with your youkai friends, but it really grabbed my interest enough that I gave it a quick shout-out on the preview podcast. Although that is undoubtedly the premise of this first episode, I did not anticipate it to have such a heavy emotional weight or even hint of suspense till the very end. Even though things are becoming tough, you still have faith that everything will work out since everyone in this community is supportive of and loves one another. Though not too sweet, it is rather delicious.

Combined with a masterful presentation and some ingenious worldbuilding, this is an excellent beginning to the series. When Liden Films is doing well, they can produce anime with visual quality on par with any other studio, but at times they release a lot of bad series, so I sort of forget about them. The episode’s ending sequence is particularly powerful because of how well the animation and direction handle the episode’s subtle mood changes. This may be a very unique series if they can maintain the right amount of mystery and intrigue mixed in with a laid-back slice of life.

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