When it comes to the theme of this column, which is “hidden gems of anime”, one of the shows that represents this theme best personally is the 2014 show Invaders of the Rokujyoma!? (Japanese title: Rokujyouma no Shinryakusha!?), not so much because I think it is one of the best anime ever, but it was a show that I did not think of too highly at first, until the show surprised me with how good it ended up being. At first it looked like just another harem light novel adaptation, featuring a bunch of girls with a variety of classic anime-esque backgrounds: a ghost girl, a magical girl, a girl from a clan of underground people, and a high-tech girl from the future. That was pretty much all the initial appeal I needed to at least try the show, because who wouldn’t want to see what kind of chaos these different types of anime girls would create when put in the same room? The first episode more or less kept my expectations the same going in, being mildly entertaining but nothing too special, and suggesting to me that I was just going to be in for a show that would make for a decent dinner viewing: fun enough but with nothing special to it.
And then it turned out how very wrong I was.
All things considered, I probably should have saw coming how much I would come to love this show. After all, I have a very particular type of show that I tend to really like: shows centering around some kind of dorm/apartment complex and the tenants within. I refer to these as “-sou” shows since -sou is the Japanese suffix for a living complex and is at the end of the names of the apartments featured in the show, and they have very consistently provided great viewing experiences: Hidamari Sketch (featuring Hidamarisou) is one of the absolute best cute-girls-doing-cute-things shows, Mahoraba ~Heartful Days~ (featuring Narutakisou) is a 2006 show that I’m still hoping gets licensed someday, The Pet Girl of Sakurasou is so much better than the title sounds, Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou (English title The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior) was another great 2014 show, and Love Hina (featuring Hinatasou)… well, I couldn’t get through the anime, but I read through all of the manga and enjoyed that, so it still counts. Seeing the characters of these shows go through life together in close quarters is really nice and provides a great picture of what it’s like to be in a close-knit community. And Rokujyoma, with its Coronasou–well, specifically, room 106 of Coronasou–probably should have been considered a contender for joining this group of shows, too.
What probably threw me, though, was that, unlike all the other shows mentioned above, the various tenants of Coronasou all definitively considered each other as enemies at the start. There might have been various initial begrudgings in the other shows (especially Love Hina), but there are no pretenses of the tenants getting along in the first episode. Lone guy Koutarou wants to keep his low-rent room, ghost-girl Sanae wants to defend the room as her haunt, magical girl Yurika needs to protect the magical energy in the room from evil forces (everyone else just thinks she wants the room for a cosplay party), underground girl Kuriha wants to claim the room as a shrine and a starting point for an invasion of the upper world, and future girl and princess Theiamillis was tasked to take over the room as part of her royal training.
This leads to the first few episodes being spent on these six battling it out for control of Room 106. When the landlady forbids them to fight physically (and while the landlady is a high school girl, you seriously do not want to mess with her), they use card games and a school marathon/obstacle course event to try to settle things. Despite occasional breaks for meals and an alliance between Koutarou and Sanae, this antagonistic mood hangs over much of these first three episodes, especially as even Koutarou does some underhanded things to mess with the other girls.
However, starting in the fourth episode, the atmosphere among these invaders starts to change.
It starts with a truce as the group goes to enjoy a trip at a hot springs “resort” (which is not really resort-like, but that’s besides the point). At the hot springs, the girls have a chance to talk in more detail about their reasons for wanting to take over Room 106, and as it turns out, many of them have very personal reasons for their invasions. After this moment, while the girls still recognize each other as enemies due to their conflicting goals, the antagonistic mood among them has largely faded away.
Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse before they get better, as a small incident causes Koutarou to accidentally hurt Sanae with a pair of Japanese charms that he was wearing. This leads to a bitter argument in which Koutarou insists that because he and Sanae are enemies, they cannot truly understand each other. This causes Sanae to run away, and before Koutarou or any of the others can find her, she gets captured by ghost hunters. A ghost that is helping the hunters tells her that ghosts do not belong in this world, and that they are naturally hated by humans, which only makes her feel worse.
Meanwhile, Koutarou, in trying to find Sanae and figure out why she was so upset, gets some advice from an upperclassman in his school club, who tells him that even though what he said might have technically been true, it still hurt her feelings for how unkind it was, especially after the two of them had spent so much time together. Whether he wanted it to or not, the time he spent with those girls, even if much of it was antagonistic, had already closed the gap between them.
In our lives, we will likely encounter many people who, for one reason or another, we consider our enemies. Maybe we are competing with them for something important, or maybe they are trying to hurt us for one reason or another, or maybe their beliefs are so different from ours that discussions frequently erupt into heated debates. Whatever the case, these are likely the people that are hardest for us to love, which makes Jesus’s commandment to “love our enemies” one of the hardest commandments to follow. After all, even if we do not have outright malicious feelings toward them, the fact that they are so opposed to us can make it hard to imagine what “loving” them would even look like.
This is where Rokujyoma can possibly help out. One thing we can do with some of our enemies is to simply talk with them and get to understand where they are coming from. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to stereotype others in various ways and assume we know why they are against us. A good talk can help break assumptions and come to a better understanding (as long as there is no attempt to “convert” the other person; there might be a time for that later, but not at this time). The two of you may still be in opposition to each other, but oftentimes, that understanding is all you really need for any sour moods between you to die out.
Other times, we might simply just need to spend more time with the other person, and simply let the natural intimacy that is built from shared time together to develop. The exact nature of the time spent together can change how effective this is–generally speaking, that time should be spent less going at each other and more doing pleasant things together. Under the right conditions, though, that time together can help you reach out and care for your enemies.
Sometimes, we simply have to stop believing that reconciliation is impossible. Now, there are some cases where reconciliation should not be attempted, particularly if your own safety is at risk, at which point all we can really do is “pray for those who persecute you” and leave it at that. But other times, rather than just saying, “She’s my enemy; I’ll just pray for her and leave her alone”, we must change that way of thinking and consider what ways we can tangibly show love to our enemies instead. After all, more than an enemy, that person is someone created and loved by God. And if the “enemy” is a Christian (which is certainly possible, especially if you have major denominational disagreements), they are also first and foremost a brother or sister in Christ. Thinking of that person in that way, rather than as an enemy, can be that important first step in reconciliation, or at least making things between you better than what they were.
As for how Koutarou’s and Sanae’s reconciliation goes, I will not spoil it, but suffice it to say that it is a really sweet moment, and the moment when this show, for me, went from “good enough” to downright “good”. At that point, I knew I had found myself another hidden gem: a show that, like many other “-sou” shows, is about a group of people in a shared living space growing closer, with the kicker being that they had to get past being “enemies” first. As long as you do not hate harem light novel adaptations, it is definitely a show I believe is worth trying out; you might have to stick it out for a couple of episodes before things really get good, but this show has some real heart to it, which makes all the comedy and craziness just that much more fulfilling.
And in the meantime, think of how you can show love to the “enemies” in your life. It is definitely not easy, but if the love of Christ was easy to show, no one in the world would pay attention to it. It is because, with Christ’s power, we can love the last people others expect us to love, that others might start thinking that there’s something special about Christianity after all.
Invaders of the Rokujyoma!? can be found streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu, or you can buy the DVD or Blu-ray of the complete series at your preferred anime retailer. Also, if you’re interested in some of the other Christian themes in this show, check out this post by D.M. Dutcher about the resident magical girl (and best girl), Yurika (spoilers up to episode 8).
Some quick content warnings: as a harem light novel adaptation, expect some fanservice–below average for the genre, but still enough to warn about it. Also, if you’re not comfortable with the incantations-and-pentagrams form of magic, the magical-girl part of the show might be of issue.