New Anime

Weekly Digest 05/12/2023 – Tonari no Youkai-san, The Fable

Tonari no Youkai-san – 06

Being quite on the fence about this series and The Fable both, I’m going to give the digest thing a try. It might only be for one week – maybe I’ll keep both, one or the other, or neither. But I haven’t done a digest this season to it’s a way to stall for time, anyway. While it’s not a prerequisite the OCD in me likes there to be some sort of thematic connection between shows I cover this way, but that’s not always possible. Ultimately the schedule (both anime’s and Enzo’s) determines what’s feasible and what isn’t.

The funny thing is, after Episode 4 I was pretty close to committing a tag and category here. But that was the high-water mark for me, so far anyway. It’s not as though the two subsequent eps have been bad or anything, but some momentum has been lost. The whole Yuri subplot is kind of a whiff for me. And I’m not nuts about how the whole space-time rift was blown through in a week and then (for now) basically forgotten. Her younger brother Tsubaki shows up here to take her home to visit her ailing Mom, and that’s all fine. The reunion between her and her Dad was realistically anti-climactic. But it’s all just kind of there.

As with last week the B-part was better. Jirou still hasn’t replaced the barrier on his cedar because he’s sentimental about how Mu-chan patched the old one. And the three old fishermen (two youkai, one human) have a frank conversation about death. The gap in lifespans between the races is a common theme in youkai anime, and this one is no exception. That’s a thread that definitely has traction if Tonari no Youkai-san chooses to pursue it.

Finally, a rather long epilogue scene at school. A group of boys including the kappa girl’s crush are gossiping about how the stuffed tanuki in the science lab was actually a bake-danuki, and roams the halls after school vowing revenge against the one who killed him. The anatomical model (one of every school’s seven mysteries) says it’s just a tanuki, but reminds the boys (who’ve picked up Mu-chan and kappa girl) about kotodama – the Shinto belief that great power dwells in words and names. This is actually an extremely powerful concept in Japanese mythology. Be careful of gossip becoming reality, he says. And what’s this about a buzz-cut (bozu) boy whose name nobody knows – where did he go?


The Fable – 06

The Fable is tracking upwards, in contrast to Tonari no Youkai-san. This was certainly the best episode so far for me. The balance of creepy and comic was spot-on, and I feel like I kind of grok where Minami Katsuhisa is going with all this after the epiphany of sorts I had last week. Rather than paint gangsters as sociopaths or whitewash them as cuddly figures, he lands on their defining trait being awkwardness. What binds the yakuza here more than anything is that they’re social misfits, and that’s probably part of why they ended up doing this for a living. And there may just be a kernel of truth in that, though I won’t claim to know one way or the other.

LiA reader Jay noted in the comments last week that The humor in The Fable put him in mind of King of the Hill. And holy crow, now I can’t unsee it. I have no idea if that series even aired in Japan, but there’s definitely something to that observation. The deadpan absurdity, the comic timing, even the art style to an extent. And Octopus really fits that model. It’s a pretty ludicrous place, with Fable sent out to do deliveries on the “Porsche” – a mamachari one-gear bicycle. Which he does so quickly that the boss suspects he never made the delivery at all. He did, and with time for a coffee break besides.

The darker side of the story is very much in play here too, however. First in the person of Ebihara’s brother Kojima. He’s been in the slammer for 15 years, and it’s immediately obvious that there’s more wrong with him than “prison stupor”. He’s a much more violent and angry person than his brother, who preaches the ways of the new yakuza who work on salary and don’t carry guns (that’s a fib of course). The boss gives him three million Yen as a “thank you” – presumably because he took the fall for the group when he got sent away – and that basically means he’s back in the family. You can bet Kojima is going to cause big trouble, and most likely with Fable.

The other ugly element is the designer at Octopus, Kainuma Etsuji (played by yet another Osaka actor in Asahina Takumi). In addition to being a smarmy douchebag, he’s also a hard-core perv who sneaks photos of Misaki under the table and, eventually, steals her keys to get into her apartment to scour for jerk-off material. Which he finds in abundance, given that she’s hiding a past as “bikini model”, or something a lot more than that. She winds up calling Fable for help when she can’t get into her apartment, and at some point I suspect he’s going to do something about Kainuma (though in context of his orders, just what is TBD).

Still, all the stuff with Fable trying to fit in is pretty hilarious. That eating edamame skins and chicken bones (the latter can kill you) is not normal is a shock to him. He reveals that as a kid he was dumped in the mountains with a knife and told to find his way home, which explains a lot as well as engendering sympathy from the Prez. And we have Kuro and his flunky stumbling on Fable and Prez at Mama’s bar, with Kuro going all-out to try and make an impression and become his disciple. Again, social misfits. As a whole it all works better here than at any point in the series so far, and that can only be a good sign.

The post Weekly Digest 05/12/2023 – Tonari no Youkai-san, The Fable appeared first on Lost in Anime.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.