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Tonari no Youkai-san – 05

This show is certainly taking a kitchen sink approach when it comes to alternative fiction. It started off looking like a pretty conventional (if rather winning) Shinto fantasy. But there were a few horror tropes sprinkled in, and now we’re getting into some straight-up science fiction. It’s not every Japanese folklore fairy tale that has rifts in the space-time continuum and parallel worlds. The latter offers the potential to bring us uncomfortably close to isekai, but I’m fairly confident Tonari no Youkai-san isn’t the sort of series to fully embrace that route.

I confess Yuri is not my most favorite character in this cast. I get the source of her family issues, but she’s kind of unpleasant and one-note. She hates her family, feels sorry for herself, and resents anyone with the temerity to be happy with theirs. That includes Buchio most obviously, who loves his family so much he evolved into a youkai so he wouldn’t have to leave them behind. Of course that’s exactly why Tazenbou pushed the two of them together, which Yuri has finally figured out. Unfortunately Buchio takes the brunt of Yuri’s rage, which he’s not really capable of coping with.

Yuri’s family issues represent the first time Tonari no Youkai-san has follows the Petopeto-san course and confronted human-youkai prejudice directly. In this case it’s her family – the head branch of an old bakegitsune clan – discriminating against branches that dilute their purity by marrying humans. Yuri was right to rebel against that and she certainly came to the right place. But at this point she seems ready to confront her past (which Taichi – who may or may not be her partner – is encouraging her to do).

The explanation for why this world of human-youkai intermingling is treated with such nonchalance? The parallel worlds theory, of course. And rifts (like the one which allowed the raijin to divebomb the school) seem to be opening up between them. A space-time research investigation team is headed to Fuchigamori to investigate the local instances (which space otaku Takumi is thrilled about). But before they arrive Yuri gets caught up in one of these rifts, and because only one Yuri can exist in any one parallel world, winds up switching places with another Yuri from a “normal” world. And she’s not the only one having this experience either.

I’m not sure yet how I feel about this plot twist – ask me next week and I might have a better idea. It offers some interesting potential avenues (in the world Yuri winds up in Mu-chan’s dad is alive and well, for example). It was resolved quite conveniently and quickly here but it seems likely to be a recurring theme going forward. It certainly explains the existence of this reality which is so different from the one we know, but it’s not like I was on tenterhooks waiting for that to be explained – I was perfectly fine with things the way they were. It’s all conjecture at this point – where the series decides to go with this will make all the difference.

The post Tonari no Youkai-san – 05 appeared first on Lost in Anime.

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