In Episode 3 of Elegant Yokai Apartment Life (Youkai Apato no Yuuga na Nichijou), we learn the back story about the small ghost child we met in episode 1 (Kuri) and the puppy that appears to follow him around (Shiro). It is a sad tale and for those who are not up to date on the series, I recommend you skip this article until you have caught up. Don’t worry, I can wait…
Caught up? Excellent. Let’s go.
Kuri was a child born to an unwed mother. She believed truly that the man she loved would marry her if she was pregnant and had his child. He didn’t. In fact, he pushed her away further. This drove her to madness as her child (Kuri) continued to serve as a reminder of the love she lost. She neglected him and treated him with nothing but contempt. He ends up finding a dog named Shiro. Shiro loves Kuri and stays with him through everything. As a small child alone in the world, Shiro was the only friend Kuri had. Seeing the two of them together, in a fit of rage, Kuri’s mother murders her son.
Shiro then dives right for the throat, killing Kuri’s mother. Witnesses who did not know everything that happened just saw a dog murder a person and beat Shiro to death. Shiro let it happen. He did not fight back. He chose to die after saving his friend. He opted to follow his friend into the hereafter. He works with the gods of all dogs to provide personal protection to Kuri’s ghost. Through a series of events, that leads them to the Yokai Apartment building our main character lives in. The ghost of his mother continues to wander, hoping to still cause harm to her deceased son.
Our main character, Yuushi, has such mixed emotions about the entire affair. He has grown fond of Kuri and wants to protect the small child. He also cannot fathom a mother wanting to harm their child. He had recently lost his parents and had a loving relationship with his parents. He can’t imagine the anger, the rage, and the evil in the heart of Kuri’s mother. As a parent myself, I have a more guttural reaction than Yuushi.
Rage. A mother murdering her child enrages me. I understand that the woman had been through quite a bit of difficulty in life which led her to madness (example from Pokemon Sun/Moon), but that does not absolve her of her actions. She chose herself over her child. She chose selfishness over selfless devotion. She chose anger over love. She chose this evil. As the episode continues we see that the evil, the rage had consumed her transforming her into a monster that barely resembles a human any longer.
Parenting is a lifetime commitment to another human being. You are permanently offering up your time, treasure, and love to another person. It is inherently a selfless act, or at least it needs to be, or else the child will suffer from your unwillingness to put them first. I’ve talked about bad and good examples of parents in anime before. This one quickly rises to the top of awful anime parents and the evil committed by this mother beyond her own life is beyond my comprehension.
That said, there is something else striking about the episode. In this case, Kuri gets a new, better parent provided by the gods, an eternal dog-kami named Akane. She loves and protects Kuri when she is not serving as a local Shrine deity. She knows the people at the apartment will keep Kuri safe. Akane adopts Kuri into her family. As Christians, we too are adopted into a family with a better parent, a perfect parent, a divine parent. God.
Our perfect Father in Heaven will not let us down. He will never fail us. He will always watch out for us. He will always love us with an undying love. Kuri never got anything like that from his earthly parents. Yet, he now has that kind of love from a divine parent who loves him. I strive to be that kind of parent. A loving parent who will never fail my children. I pray I never fall victim to the selfish attitude which eventually led to the evil that consumed Kuri’s mother.
Elegant Yokai Apartment Life (Youkai Apato no Yuuga na Nichijou) can be streamed legally at Crunchyroll in the United States.