Nobuo TobitaAyahi TakagakiAi OrikasaH.P. Lovecraft
Housing Complex C
Also known as: C Danchi
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2022
Director: Yuji Nara
Original creator: H.P. Lovecraft
Actor: Ai Orikasa, Ayahi Takagaki, Haruka Tomatsu, Kazuhiro Yamaji, Kujira, Nobuo Tobita, Sayaka Ohara, Takaya Kuroda, Takeshi Nishimura, Wataru Hatano, Yusaku Yara
Keywords: anime, fantasy, horror
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: Four 25-minute episodes
Website category: Anime 2022
Review date: 4 June 2024
C Danchi
I liked it a lot more than I'd expected from all the negative reviews. This little co-production series (Japanese anime but to date it's only aired on Adult Swim's Toonami programming block) is the following:
(a) a gentle, likeable ramble with the residents of Housing Complex C. They're mostly old folks, so there's some racism when a group of Muslims move in and start praying. There's a bubbly nine-year-old girl, Kimi, and a married couple who are managing those foreign interns. Technically, this is a horror series, but it doesn't usually suggest that and we're usually just relaxing with the old farts and agreeing with their general opinion that Kimi's lovely. The show's not claustrophobic or unsettling. It's not trying to make us scared of small communities. It's happy to spend time just getting to know a mixed assortment of neighbours, while only occasionally dropping hints that something may or may not be odd. Cthulhoid things on the rocks? Well, we never saw it again. Smartphones in the year 2000? You can wonder about that, if you feel like it.
(b) an exploration of Lovecraftian ideas in a modern setting. The concluding revelations made me laugh, especially a certain god's view of all these unpleasant humans who insist on trying to worship them. Did I ask for a human sacrifice? Come off it. And grow up. Or you could swell into a blood balloon and pop, I'm easy either way.
The series subverts Lovecraft's racist undercurrents. We're not meant to agree with that landlady's attitude to the Muslims, while the mutual hostility at the start of ep.3 just means everyone's being an idiot. Also, that bloke who looks like a Deep One is lovely, even though I reckon he really was a Deep One but in a show that believed he could still be a nice chap anyway. (More than once in this series, someone scary and likely to excite prejudice will actually be nice underneath, whereas the really dangerous bastards look normal.)
I also loved the Lovecraftian squid in the playground, with slides and stairs for the children.
This show will get categorised as horror, but it's not scary. Bad things happen, yes, but as part of a story that's ultimately about being friendly and getting on with the people next door. (And if you don't, watch out.) Being "horror that's not frightening" has damned this in many people's eyes, but I liked it. It's presenting Lovecraft's ideas with an unusual tone, in a world where Deep Ones on the rocks and creepy red-eyed things in the dark aren't actually important. They're just more neighbours. Or maybe they weren't there in the first place? We only glimpsed them briefly, after all.
If you're a Lovecraft fan, this is definitely worth a look. Apart from anything else, it's short!