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Tonari no Youkai-san – 11

Less is more.

It’s almost as if someone was listening. After bemoaning the almost total absence of Buchio (and his wing of the narrative building) these last two weeks, he and Takumi had the entire episode (almost) today. And it did nothing but confirm my belief that for me at least, Tonari no Youkai-san is much better this way. It absolutely felt as if a weight had been lifted from the story – all that leaden drama and navel-gazing really takes its toll. The sheer tonal chasm between the two main threads of this series is among the widest I can recall in quite a while.

As someone who’s spent his whole life fervently wishing that you didn’t have to say goodbye to cats you love, there’s a particular poignancy to Buchio and Takumi’s arc. It’s sort of a role reversal here, with the cat in the position of fretting over saying goodbye too soon – a common theme in youkai-human stories of course. It’s kind of a wish-fulfilment fantasy really – Takumi’s best friend is his beloved cat, and now they get to hang around together and talk about cool stuff. Takumi whizzes around on his bike with Buchio riding in his backpack, chasing down conspiracy theories and having a great time. What a joy that is to see.

What Takumi is chasing down this time is the Space Time Agency, back in town investigating something. That something is an incident in 1520 when a meteor crashed to Earth. And the head tengu of the time, Tengenbo (a wonderful little cameo for Miki Shin’ichirou) saved everyone by sacrificing himself. He knew his tree body was running out of time and was determined to go out fulfilling a “tengu’s duty”, which he certainly did. Reading about this starts the waterworks flowing for the extremely sentimental Buchio, which Takumi gently chides him over.

I loved the exchange those two had over Takumi’s dreams for the future. Buchio – who’s been watching Takumi closely for literally Takumi’s entire life – notes how the boy lights up when he’s pursuing stuff like this, and notes that he should do it for a career. Takumi replies that “you can’t make a career out of something just because you like it”, and declares that he’s going to be a salaryman who pursues his interests as a hobby (whee). Takumi expresses envy over how easily things seem to come for Buchio since his transformation – he’s now about to go to Tokyo for job training – though Ryou later points out that it’s Buchio’s ability to connect with people that’s allowed him to adapt so quickly to nekomata existence.

As for the science ladies, what they were investigating is something we’ve seen already, a rift in the barrier between worlds. That could be a big problem for many reasons. Buchio notes that the other world could be full of kaibutsu, and Takumi that all common knowledge could become moot. This will become a factor once the pair of them arrive in Tokyo. Takumi muses at the beginning that he’d like to come along, Buchio resists because Takumi is too young to be sightseeing in Tokyo alone, and eventually Wagen is enlisted to chaperone him.

I literally groaned when the scene shifted to Mutsumi and Jirou, but happily that lasted for only a moment or two (Ma-san has started venturing out of doors). The main event is in the big city, where there’s a “flash of darkness” (a very effective moment) and a giant crack appears in the sky. Judging how how worried Sanmoto-san looks when he sees it, it’s safe to assume this is big deal. Look for Buchio to go into protector mode with Takumi officially in his care when the shit goes down.

The post Tonari no Youkai-san – 11 appeared first on Lost in Anime.

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