Anyone who has learnt a bit of basic Japanese will recognise “roku” as the number six, which will give you a clue as to the meaning of the title of this anime. Rokujouma isn’t a district or a town, but it is a place. It’s a “six tatami mat room”. Measurements of Japanese apartments are given in the number of tatami mats that fit on the floor, so a six mat room is a relatively small apartment of around 100 square feet, just enough room for… oh, I don’t know… about half a dozen female visitors? So why would anyone want to invade a room? That’s a good question, and I’m not sure I entirely understood the answer.
When Kotaro Satomi starts high school he decides to get a place of his own, which is apparently a thing in Japan. He thinks he has dropped in lucky when he gets a room for only 5000 yen a month. That’s only about £35, so it’s a ridiculously cheap rent. The reason, or at least part of the reason, is that Room 106 is haunted.
We aren’t talking a scary haunting here, so don’t come into this series expecting The Grudge or something. No, we’re talking a high school girl who floats. She wants her apartment back, but all she can do is try to make a nuisance of herself, and Kotaro is determined to keep hold of his good deal. Very rapidly, other “invaders” start to show up: a magical girl, a girl from an underground civilisation, and a couple of aliens. This is all thrown in right at the start, and is a bit confusing and overwhelming. As the series comes close to running out of ideas at certain points later in the run, it would have made more sense to spread out the initial “invasions” over a few episodes. I also couldn’t quite figure out what was special about this particular apartment. The arrival of all these unusual female characters seems to be little more than a coincidence.
They are fun characters, though. The ghost is Sanae, who quickly forms an attachment to Kotaro, and finds a way to experience things like taste by latching onto him in a sort of a piggy-back. Later in the series we see her literally sleeping inside him at night times, with just her head emerging from his chest, which she says is nice and warm. It’s funny, but also a bit weird.
The two aliens are Theia (or “Tulip”, as Kotaro calls her), and her servant Ruth. Tulip is a princess, who has parked her spaceship somewhere near the Earth, and is able to do a sort of teleport thing in and out of the room when she wants to. The thing is, although this is superficially a series about a ghost, some aliens, etc, this is simply just another route to a harem anime with the usual kind of mix of girls. Tulip will be familiar to fans as a particular anime archetype: the rich blonde girl with an attitude. Ruth, on the other hand, is just boring, and there isn’t much to her character apart from an odd obsession with rhinoceros beetles.
The underground girl (Doctor Who fans, think Silurians, but if the Silurians were just humans and looked like girls with big boobs) is Kiriha, and she gets the best story arc, developing her first ever friendship with Kotaro. She gets some really good, gradual character development, and her story is given room to breathe.
My favourite character was sadly underutilised: the magical girl Yurika. The running joke is that nobody believes she has any powers, and instead they just think she’s a chunibyo girl (i.e. she’s pretending and just fantasising about magical powers). To maintain the joke, she tends to be on the outside of the action, using her powers from a distance, which can make her a bit of an outsider at times, often kept separate from the rest of the group, despite being one of the two girls who actually lives with Kotaro. Later in the series she gets a great storyline where her true power is finally revealed beyond a doubt, when a genuinely dangerous enemy turns up. The series takes a turn towards serious drama for a while, and away from the gentle comedy, and for a couple of episodes it feels like a different series, but I have found this is not uncommon in these sorts of comedic anime series.
Making up the numbers is Shizuka, Kotaro’s landlady, who is also a schoolgirl, because… well, just because this is a harem anime. But it’s quite a different kind of a harem anime, mainly because of a character I haven’t mentioned yet: Harumi. She belongs to the same club as Kotaro, and he clearly has feeling for her. That’s quite unusual for a series like this with lots of female characters, where the main character is more often a clueless bloke who doesn’t realise anyone is interested in him and doesn’t have the first idea about who or what he wants. This is much better, with Kotaro clearly attracted to Harumi. Whilst the other girls to a certain extent show an inevitable interest in him, the series moves nicely in the direction of building them up as friendships with no strings attached, particularly Kiriha, who is enjoying her first meaningful friendship, and Sanae, who becomes like a little sister to Kotaro. Yurika also doesn’t seem to have much interest in him, so that just leaves the two alien girls to provide the jealous looks.
This could have done with a second series. By the sound of it, the novel series went into some interesting territory, especially in terms of the true nature of Sanae, who isn’t quite what she seems to be. But I’m well used to anime series that don’t conclude, and tempt the viewers to find out more by investing in a book series. It’s an inevitable part of being an anime fan, whether we like it or not.
This series squandered a lot of its potential by using the various girls’ powers as little more than a shortcut to get them into Kotaro’s room and head down the usual harem anime route, but there is enough of a focus on friendship instead of romance, and enough deviation from the format into more interesting territory, to mark this one out as definitely worth a look. These are some of the least threatening invaders ever, but also some of the most fun. Kotaro definitely got a good deal. RP