- Genre: Supernatural, romance, reverse harem, adventure, isekai
- Episodes: 26
- Studio: Gonzo
They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. But I’ve long suspected it’s the way to anyone’s heart. It certainly works for me, as well as every single pet I’ve ever had. Turns out, it’s also the way to a Yokai’s heart. This is very good news for Aoi when she finds herself suddenly spirited away to the hidden realm having been left as collateral for her grandfather’s debt to the great Orc master. If it hadn’t been for her prodigious cooking skills she might have found herself married off to the great spirit without so much as a say in the matter. Now at least she has a chance to work off the debt as a chef at the master’s Inn. But great Orcs might not be quite as bad as they seem, there are worse things than a powerful mate to take care of us. Still Aoi is determined to prove her worth on her own in this strange new world full of supernatural threats, wondrous magic and delicious delights.
Occasionally I’ll do this little exercise at the beginning of a new season. I’ll line up a bunch of shows and watch the first few minutes of episode one to determine whether I should just installed drop them, continue watching them as they air or set them aside for binge consumption. Option 2 doesn’t get a lot of use.
Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits was one of those shows I was holding off on until it finished airing and I was really looking forward to it. I already knew it was a calm slightly silly story filled with Yokai and magic. I realized that the art was not my favorite but it was serviceable and the colors were nice. I built up some fairly unreasonable expectations based on my past experiences with Yokai themed anime. Did it live up to my self generated hype?
Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits is a two cour show. I mention it because I assume this has some impact on budgeting. I don’t actually know. However, it’s what I’ve decided to blame for just how uneven this production is. Soundtrack is fine but extremely repetitive. The voice cast is a bit all over the place. Although no one is downright awful, you can clearly hear the difference in acting levels between the different characters, which robs a lot of scenes of emotional resonance.
But of all the technical elements, it’s art and animation that suffer most. Animation is fairly minimal in general, which isn’t a bad thing in this case, but occasionally episodes will throw in so many still shots you could start thinking you’re watching an extremely slow stop motion animation. And art is completely uneven. The base designs are pretty good. I think there’s something wrong with the proportions of Ali’s head when her hair is down but otherwise everyone is good to great looking. The problem is the art is so inconsistent it can be difficult to recognize characters if it weren’t for their outfits. You have no idea how many screenshots I threw out because they were ugly.
This inconsistency is glaring from scene to scene and can really take you out of the moment. The show is mostly an isekai adventure with some romantic elements and a few dramatic beats. It’s the sort of story that really benefits from suspension of disbelief and allowing the audience to get lost in the adventure but this goes straight out the window when you find yourself bursting in laughter at how randomly derpy everyone looks every other episode.
However, I really mean the art is uneven. There are also beautiful scenes and great design choices. I regularly found myself staring at how Ginji’s kimono was held together by a strap around his shoulders. It folded with his movements as well. It’s a traditional men’s kimono design, nothing particularly extravagant but it was well executed band suited the character. Little touches like that are also omnipresent so you just never know what to expect.
I won’t lie. Of course I thought of Natsume. I always think of Natsume so if you give me a story like Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits, full of sad childhoods and feisty Yokai, I really don’t have a choice but to make the comparison. This is unfair to any show and seems particularly cruel to a reverse harem. Not that genre means anything…. Fact is I really should I should have been comparing it to Ayakashi Gohan! For those of you that have never heard of it, it’s a delightful of otome that I played because Naja told me to. The stories aren’t identical but definitely similar with the orphaned lady taken in by Yokai and the importance of and connections we make through food.
That doesn’t tell you much though. Let’s put it this way, Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits is a shaky structure built on strong foundations. The base premise is downright wonderful. After the death of her grandfather and guardian, Aoi, a strong willed young woman who can see Yokai, finds out that her beloved grandad left her as collateral for a huge partying bill he wracked up in the Yokai world. Now she must either marry the ogre lord who owns the Dept or find another way to repay it. It’s a fun and full of possibilities. I really like it as a start off point. Even though the actual plot (or rather plots) stray from it quite a bit, eventually turning the second season closer to a quest based adventure, it’s also consistently interesting.
The inhabitants of the southern reaches of the Yokai world must perform a ceremony every 100 years or so to avoid disaster but in order to proceed they must collect an assortment of elusive treasures and face deadly obstacles. Cool right? Sounds like you could have a lot of fun with that. Throw in just a peppering of romance, a bit of humour, and you have a sturdy formula.
Unfortunately, the character building and dialogue just doesn’t do it justice. There’s a lot of clunky exposition and lackluster wordplay. Everyone is a slight variation of eccentric but nice with Raiju being the only exception. Mostly every character was pleasant and the anime as a whole was comfortable but forgettable.
I’m a fan of reverse harems, anime recipes and Yokai centric stories so Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits checked a lot of boxes for me. I can’t say I regret watching all 24 episodes and would probably watch more if available. However, there’s no denying that this is an objectivity average show at best and there’s no need to go out of your way to watch it unless you also have these particular fetishes…
Favorite characters: The krane twins but I’m also team Ginji
What this anime taught me: I was looking at the scene showing Ginji in his beast form and he really reminded me of someone… Is Nyanko a kitsune spirit??
Exercise makes you look better naked, so does wine. Your choice..
Suggested drink: Fir Gin Fix
- Every time Aoi is threatened by her fiancee (this will make sense) – take a sip
- Every time Aoi cooks – breath in
- Every time the debt is mentioned – take a sip
- Every time we see Aoi’s grandfather – get some water
- if he’s young – switch back to booze
- Every time Aoi takes care of an injured or sick yokai – take a sip
- Every time we see falling sakura petals – take a sip
- Every time discovers something questionable about her grandfather – raise your glass
- Every time there’s a double entendre – just me?
- Every time anyone says Aoi resembles Shiro – take a sip
- Every time anyone gets drunk – join them
- Every time flashback to the time Aoi’s mom left – be sad
- Every time anyone mentions or eats curry – et a snack
- Every time Ginji shapeshifts – clap
- Every time chibi eats a cucumber – get a different snack. You’ve drank a lot, you need something to soak that up with.
I took a completely unreasonable amount of screencaps so here are a few, you can see the rest here!