SPOILERS FOR HOUSING COMPLEX C, READ AT YOUR OWN WILL!
[Writer’s Note: This review centers on the English dub.]
Human nature has always been a topic of interest, whether it be through how learning society works or exploring how certain things divide us. For one thing, the topic of human nature and humanity as a whole has been the focus of many movies and shows and as much as it has been explored, its many messages are still interesting to look into. For Adult Swim’s first anime, Housing Complex C, understanding and interpreting human nature is a crucial factor of this show’s story, but the many extra plot points clunk up an otherwise good show.
Housing Complex C follows the residents of an isolated apartment complex after a series of bizarre incidents begins to plague the community of Kurosaki as well as newcomers from abroad. Community life-bringer Kimi (Xanthe Huynh), with the help of the newest young resident Yuri (Kayli Mills), must find out the cause behind this mystery and the secrets that lie within Housing Complex C. However, with new residents coming in, the community that has lived in the complex must learn how to adapt to their newfound circumstances.
The show utilizes a combination of religious devotion and belief in human nature to develop the main story: the old world was ultimately in a chaotic state where war and death reign, though after some time, the world was finally brought to peace. The housing complex, the main location of the show, stands as a veil between “eternity” and the mortal world as the surrounding environment is entrapped in a time bubble and Kimi is the only one who knows about it. The interns from abroad and the residents of the complex have such differing and opposing beliefs about each other that, by the third episode, they generate distrust between one another. This issue doesn’t get resolved until the final episode, where the heavy story details are dropped in hopes that you’ll finally get it.
Kimi is the key to understanding human nature in this show: her pure innocence mixed with her kindness and curiosity in an otherwise harsh world makes her a perfect communicator between these two groups (and they are indeed charmed by her blooming personality.) There are many scenes in this show that make Kimi a standout character and show that while she is innocent, she is willing to put herself out to others for the betterment of all of the characters. She indirectly puts these groups into precarious situations without their knowledge in hopes they can live in peace with one another. However, as all things go, trouble always brews as the mystery continues on. Overall, Huynh does a great job making Kimi into this curious and innocent character amidst a variety of characters.
As for Yuri, her role in Housing Complex C is quite intriguing. Yuri and her family are initially introduced as new residents who want to make a life for themselves, though there’s not much of a change in role between Yuri’s parents until the final episode. As the series goes on, Yuri plays a more influential role for Kimi as the mystery of the complex begins to become more extreme. She continues to push Kimi to solve this mystery even though Kimi grows more hesitant of what’s happening and from here, Kimi and her family’s involvement slowly becomes more obvious. However, by the final episode, there is are certain twists, both from Yuri and Kimi, that come out, in surprise and out of nowhere, that honestly made me a little confused and confounded. Nonetheless, Mills does great with balancing Yuri’s urgency, interest, and trust for such a character and her chemistry with Huynh slowly grew on me.
The rest of the cast provides a lot of diversity to create the story, from the main residents to the interns, though in the time we spend with them, it felt like they were mostly utilized to progress the story. This is mostly relegated to the elderly residents of the complex as they provide bits of context and understanding to this show. Luckily, we do get some background and involvement from some characters, like Kanchan (Bob Carter), and it was nice to see their involvement whenever possible. Honestly, Kanchan is also a standout character: even though he’s reserved at the beginning, by the middle of the show, he slowly begins opening up to Kimi and Yuri and he has a “big brother” personality that makes him special in a show like this.
As for the story itself, it honestly felt like a mixed bag for me. The pacing of the story was ultimately the cause of this issue: it has a slow build-up from the first to the third episode and then it drops a bombshell of plot details that leave you in a state of recovery. As said before, the story focuses on human nature and the division of people through opposing beliefs. For the first three episodes, we are heavily focused on this storyline while getting bits of world-building through Kimi and Yuri’s misadventures. The religious side of things are interwoven with the main story to create the division between the residents and interns, but it doesn’t feel like it’s successfully played off in the final episode. In the finale, it’s revealed that Yuri and her family have been causing chaos for the residents through their sacrifices for a lesser god. However, knowing Kimi’s godly powers in the final episode and how the story was progressing, it didn’t seem like the series was heading in this direction even though we did get a drop of weirdness before this finale.
With the show’s main message of harmony and peace amidst the chaos of humanity, I’d say it did good for the most part, but it just needed to flow more smoothly throughout the episodes rather than relegate all the important information for its finale.
Nonetheless, Housing Complex C knows what it wants to do and creates a great cast of characters to cover certain aspects of its theme, but it compromises its storytelling potential with its twists and turns that ultimately changes its flow. However, with this being Adult Swim’s first outing for an anime series, hopefully there is an improvement that balances the story progression while maintaining the aspects that made a show like Housing Complex C great.
Housing Complex C is available on HBO Max.