What do you do when you find a nice apartment with cheap rent, only to encounter a bunch of freeloaders want to take it off you? Who cares if the place is haunted, or if the underground people want to use it to take over the world! A penniless student has to protect his lodgings with all his might!
This is the plot of INVADERS of the ROKUJYOMA!?, the screwball comedy anime based off a series of equally goofy light novels. The anime only ran for 12 episodes, but the light novel series has 25 volumes in publication as of the time of this writing—and the series is still ongoing! Who knew that a simple fight over an apartment room could evolve into such an epic saga?
J-Novel Club has recently released the first three volumes of the light novel in English, so now’s a good time as ever to revisit the anime series on Crunchyroll. The anime made quite a few changes to the light novel, so if you want the full version of the story it’s best to check out the light novels, but the anime does do a good job of showcasing the most memorable moments of the original. Let’s take a closer look!
Note: This review only refers to the first volume of the light novel, which is covered in the first episode of the anime.
It’s amazing how much content the anime manages to condense into a single episode. The first volume of the light novel was 362 pages long, which puts it on the long side for an LN volume, which usually average around 300 pages. Given that it often takes around four or five anime episodes to adapt an average-sized LN volume with some trimming of the content, you can see that the Rokujyoma anime must have used some extreme cutting to fit everything in one episode. Even an anime-only viewer would probably be able to tell that the pacing of the first episode is on overdrive.
I suspect that the anime zipped through the first volume to ensure that every main character makes an appearance in the first episode. This definitely does enhance the comedic value of the story in some ways. The joke is that our MC Koutarou gets overwhelmed by a new invader just as he’s about to get comfortable. Although this all takes place over the course of a few days in the LN, it happens within a few minutes in the anime. It’s enough to make the audience feel overwhelmed too—or maybe laugh and think, “Well, that escalated quickly!”
This frenetic pace does, admittedly, come with a few downsides. You’re not given a reason to root for any of the characters from the first episode. Although the first half of the second episode does incorporate some character-establishing scenes from the first volume, like when the ghost girl sees Koutarou off to school or when the shrine maiden girl’s attempt to manipulate him through her cooking, these parts are heavily abridged and not quite as enjoyable.
Koutarou arguably suffers the most from the lack of detailed characterization in the anime. In the LN, he’s shown to be a hard-working and diligent young man, who has moved out of home so that he won’t cause his widowed father any extra trouble. Despite his burly frame (which doesn’t look all that burly in the anime, honestly), he joins the knitting club because he earnestly wants to learn how to knit a sweater. The first chapter describes his tiring moving-in process in great detail, along with the hard work he does at his part-time job just so he can sustain himself without a guardian. He has a good reason to be attached to his apartment with its 5000-yen monthly rent, which is less than one-tenth the cost of most Tokyo apartments.
In the anime, we do see Koutarou at his part-time job at an excavation site, but his hard-working nature is not really emphasized in that scene. The part-time job is simply used to set the scene for his surreal encounter with a mystical figure, which is never explained or even alluded to at all in the rest of the episode. His encounter with the president of the knitting club is also omitted entirely, so anime viewers never learn about his motivations for joining. When anime Koutarou insists that he’ll protect his apartment from the invaders, it’s harder for anime-only viewers to understand just why he’s being so stubborn.
Having said all that, the most important aspects of the first volume are retained in the anime—the wacky antics. And it is here where the anime brims with energy. My favorite part, the fight between Sanae and Koutarou, has some neat visual flair. You can actually see Koutarou’s brain ticking as he dodges Sanae’s attacks and figures out how to beat her—only to get owned a second later.
Sanae’s banter with Koutarou in the light novel is charming in its own right, but her over-the-top reactions in the anime make it even more fun to watch. Both her bratty personality and honest personality are fully expressed in her mannerisms. All in all, she’s probably the most memorable girl out of the cast.
I’m also a fan of the music choices in this anime. The anime uses a range of goofy and over-the-top tunes to accentuate the jokes. When Yurika the magical girl introduces herself as a protector of the people, an upbeat tune plays—only for it to get abruptly cut short because nobody cares. When she warns Koutarou and Sanae that their room is in danger, an ominous tune plays—but that gets cut short too when Yurika gets kicked out of the apartment.
All these little touches make Rokujyoma a really good comedy, even if some of the characterization was lost in the transition to anime. I definitely recommend picking up the light novel to appreciate what was cut, but the anime does still preserve the best jokes. If you can handle the lightning-fast introductions, then I say the anime’s first episode is worth a try. If not, the first three volumes of the light novel can currently be read for free on the J-Novel Club website.
If you’re anything like Koutarou, an offer that good is worth defending with your life!