Demons, demons, demons. There does seem to be a fascination with demons, especially when we present them as more humanish than demonoidal. I mean, most of us see demons as someone who will burn you up or mow you down or cleave you in twain. Yeah, you might want to get some kind of PR firm to help burnish that image a touch. But what happens when a demon come after you for a debt that a relative owes them? How did this happen? Such is the premise behind Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits” (“Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi”, or “Afterlife Inn Cooking”). Oh, did I forget to mention it’s also a kind of cooking show? Oh, did I forget to mention it’s also a kind of isakai? Oh, did I forget to mention it’s also a kind of romance? Man, I would lose my head if it wasn’t screwed on to my shoulders. *THUNK*
Aoi Tsubaki (her at the lower left) is a college student who has the ability to see ayakashi, a trait she inherited from her deceased grandfather. OK, whether you want to call them yokai or spirits or monsters, it’s all the same thing: she can see these creatures. One day, when Aoi walks past a shrine, she sees an ayakashi sitting there, who announces that it is hungry. Now what have we said about talking to strangers, or stranger creatures, right? You remember that?
Anyway, not willing to let someone suffer, she gives it food. Yeah, now it turns into a really bad idea, as she is kidnapped by the ayakashi, an Ogre called Odanna (look for the horns). He takes her to the Hidden Realm, a world where all the ayakashi live, and tells Aoi that her grandfather owed him a debt. A really REALLY big debt (like 100,000,000 ¥!). As compensation, Aoi must marry Odanna.
Well, that was not in the plans for this one. Aoi negotiates with the Ogre instead, asking to work at the ogre’s inn, the Tenjin’ya. The stories detail her trying to work off the debt, avoiding having to marry the ogre and the problems with a human in the Hidden Realm.
It’s just that it’s so formulaic. We have the Big Bad Ogre, who isn’t all that bad, but has to project a certain persona, lest others think him weak. There is a friend on the inside to help shepherd our young naif through the intricacies of this new world. Making the scene is the true and noble ally, who was befriended by our maiden and now, they have an unbreakable bond. And we can’t forget the jealous rival, who will do anything and everything to destroy her fragile world.
Yeah, you’ve seen this all before; so have I. It’s just that whether it is a debt incurred by others, or self-imposed (‘Ouran High School Host Club’, anyone?), it seems as though they will never make good on this, as the harder they try, the deeper they sink. Even ‘Radiant’ played up the ‘you owe us a ton of money’ aspect. And if anyone plays the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ card, I’m gonna trump you really hard.
Now, it’s not a bad series. It is enjoyable to watch as we see what Aoi does to make good. She also learns a lot about her grandfather, much which was kept secret from her. It just felt like a Sisyphean task and that she is never going to get out from this crushing burden that grows more onerous very day. Plus, she has to worry about what else might befall her in the demon realm. I mean, demons do not really understand how hospitality works, so it’s all death and destruction, regardless that you have a fabulous hot springs.
I would not do a straight binge, but break it up into smaller arcs, as the show tends to bind itself into these smaller arcs. You also might get tired of seeing Aoi get bailed out time and again by the few demon friends she has.
I guess the cooking aspect of it smacked heavily of “Food Wars” and I guess I am tired of that cropping up whenever there is a show that has cooking in it. Put those concerns aside and you have an intriguing show before you.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (Better backgrounds than characters)
Plot 7 (Been there, done that, got the t-shirt)
Pacing 7 (A bit too stop-and-start)
Effectiveness 8 (Good use of flashbacks)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Bingeability 4 (Nothing gained from it)
Overall 7 (Got too hopeless for me)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. He owes how much?