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.