Slice of Afterlife – Your Friendly Youkai and Ayakashi
I’ve always preferred slice of life anime(s) since it somehow reflects what is happening in reality, as well the things we often take for granted, exploited, and even those things that go unnoticed. Still, I’m amazed that there are two anime(s) so far that was able to relate both afterlife and life itself to produce an uncanny yet interesting series about youkais with relation to humans.
xxxHolic didn’t really appealed to me that much at the very moment I heard of it thanks to its girlish title. Yep, it was my mistake to judge the book by its cover. Meanwhile, I don’t know why I decided not to pick up Natsume Yuujinchou last year. Nyanko-sensei is just not so adorable as Mokona I guess.
xxxHolic and Natsume both deals with humans with relation to youkais, or the so-called demons on Japanese folklore. Probably xxxHolic is the one who achieved a higher feat in the idea regarding correlation of youkais and humans. It was those customers of Yuuko that show the relation of the lives and decisions of humans to that of youkais around them. The shop might really be a shop that fulfills the wish of those who inevitably stumbled upon the doorstep but more than that is the resolve of the people who came inside in exchange for the thing they consider significant. Because of this, it still carries that certain genre of slice of life with regards to handling your priorities and resolve to get rid what is trifling with your life.
Natsume Yuujinchou still falls on this category but it was mainly focused to Natsume. It was on his actions that we see how he handles certain encounters with different youkais. Also, we can observe a much more closer look here on the relation between Nyanko-sensei and Natsume as the very example of the human-youkai relationship. The barrier between humans and youkais, which is time, is also centered on the story on how the monsters with their names written on Yuujinchou responded the moment they knew that Natsume Reiko already died long time ago.
Slice of afterlife anime is rather very not so fascinating at first because the audience probably treats monster/youkai-related anime(s) to be cliche already. Well, there are indeed so many anime(s) which involves youkais, demons, ayakashi and such but slice of afterlife anime(s) could make you see a different side of youkais since they are seen in this genre as factors that can affect humans, and vice versa, not simply just cheap anomalous creatures our protagonists need to kill or defeat. If there would be fights, it’s just minimal to compensate the dose of action for the viewers.
It explores a dimension one haven’t fully understands yet, the life together with youkais, something no one would normally desire, and the spirit world. It somehow lets us realize how lucky that we don’t experience such supernatural aberration.
Of the two protagonists from the two series, I feel more empathic towards Natsume since he was the one who experience being chased away by those around him because of his paranormal capability to sense and see youkais. He experienced being passed around to all of his relatives unlike Watanuki who somehow lived a normal social life, besides being alone and chased by youkais. Also, unlike Watanuki, Natsume has lived by always lying in order to avoid such nuisances regarding the youkais. It is rather sad, that even those concerned people that would like to help him, like Tanuma and Taki are sometimes being driven away as well. Meanwhile I don’t remember Watanuki putting up such pretenses while talking to anyone.
Between the two series, I am more attached to Natsume Yuujinchou because I just can’t continue to think of how it’s going to end. The life of humans is transient compared to youkais. If the ending of the series would be the parting between Natsume and Nyanko-sensei, that would be very heart-breaking to witness. Natsume Yuujinchou also possess a subtle story, a story set on an countryside where a young man faces and struggles to live his life at its best while dealing with youkais. Meanwhile, I think xxxHolic has a serious, with some awkward slapstick moments, atmosphere because it often deals with serious cases in life and what lies beyond it.
I really recommend both series since they are very worthwhile to watch. They are the only two series that encompass the genre of supernatural, contemporary fantasy, with connection to daily life.