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How Rick & Morty Fans Really Feel About The Great Yokai Battle Of Akihabara

As all episode batches of painstaking animated productions must, Season 5 of "Rick and Morty" has come to an end. And although creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland have promised shorter waits between seasons going forward (via Gamespot), fans of the hit Adult Swim surreal sci-fi comedy know that the absences of Rick, Morty, Summer et al. can be long-drawn and arduous — especially when seasons go out on such explosive finales as "Forgetting Sarick Mortshall"/"Rickmurai Jack."

Thankfully, the makers of the show understand how ravenous their own fanbase is, and have been going out of their way more and more to provide fans with extra "Rick and Morty" content in between episodes and seasons. A great example of that would be the anime-inspired commissioned shorts that Adult Swim has been releasing online since 2020, including "Samurai & Shogun," "Rick and Morty vs. Genocider," and "Summer Meets God (Rick Meets Evil)." These Japanese-produced shorts offer fresh, unexpected perspectives on "Rick and Morty" lore that nonetheless fit right in with the show's trademark goofy humor and wry existentialism. And the latest one, "The Great Yokai Battle of Akihabara," is no exception.

The short is a lively Halloween adventure that pays homage to shōnen anime

Much like the previous "Rick and Morty" anime extras, "The Great Yokai Battle of Akihabara" set about paying homage to the medium in the best way possible: by enlisting actual Japanese creatives to write, direct, animate and voice it.

Directed by Masaru Matsumoto (better-known in the West for co-directing the Sturgill Simpson "Sound & Fury" visual album) and written by Naohiro Fukushima ("My Tyrano: Together, Forever"), both newcomers to the franchise, "Akihabara" is a loving homage to action-oriented shōnen anime that finds Rick and Morty piloting a mecha and fighting a city-ravaging kaiju, among other genre nods. But it's also a typically absurd "Rick & Morty" story. The whole plot hinges on Rick's dogged quest for the perfect screw to repair an AI-powered toaster, which takes him all the way to Akihabara, Tokyo, "the mecca of Japan's technological might." (If you think an AI-powered toaster doesn't sound that much more useful than a regular toaster, you'd be right.)

It is also, fittingly for its release date, a Halloween special, with a whole subplot centered on Morty's visit to a maid café and subsequent discovery of the joys of cosplay. In fact, even though the series' usual creative team had nothing to do with the making of "Akihabara," both Rick and Morty are uncannily in-character all throughout the special — and the Japanese-language voice work of Yohei Tadano and Keisuke Chiba proves a particular delight.

Fans are loving the perfect blend of the show's sensibilities with anime

If we're to judge by the short's reception on YouTube, Twitter, and Reddit, "The Great Yokai Battle of Akihabara" is definitely one of the most successful bits of extra "Rick and Morty" content released so far. On Reddit, user MaltonFuston called it "now one of my favourite episodes," while gwynnegr wrote, "This was shockingly good. The number of Akira references was also appreciated."

On the replies to executive producer Jason DeMarco's tweets about the special, @DoctorDazza was particularly appreciative of the attention to detail. "I can't believe how perfect they captured everything about Akiba. From the age of the maid, to her make-up, and even referencing the basketball court. Cosplay wig off to the team!" the user wrote.

On YouTube, meanwhile, the array of reactions was varied but uniformly positive, with many commenters making note of how well the special melds typical "Rick & Morty" sensibility with madcap anime humor and even Japan-specific political jokes. Commenter Klever wrote, "What really surprises me is that the Japanese director and writer have managed to make an authentic rick and morty experience through and through," while Angus March went even further: "This short is unironically both a better episode of Rick and Morty and a better homage to anime than the Voltron Weasel episode," the commenter wrote, referring to the controversial Season 5 mecha anime parody. Several commenters also praised the special's accuracy in depicting the Akihabara region.