Kakuriyo –Bed & Breakfast for Spirits— is a josei, supernatural anime adaptation of the original light novel series written by Midori Yūma. Studio Gonzo is producing it with direction from Yoshiki Okuda. After watching the first episode, I can safely say that it was about as average, across the board, as you can get.
The story revolves around a young college girl, Aoi, who inherited the ability to see ayakashi, or “otherworldly beings,” from her grandfather, with whom she was also very close. A few days after her grandfather’s passing, while Aoi is on her way back home from school, an Oni demon appears before her and claims that she must marry him to pay off her grandfather’s 100-million-yen debt as per the contract that the two men shared. Aoi flat out refuses him. Instead, she offers to work to pay off the debt. Through various plot elements, she ends up becoming a cook at a local inn for the ayakashi.
The basic premise of the story did not blow my mind or feel unique to me. I have seen it many times, usually within the shōjo genre, where a girl must marry someone to pay off her familial debts. The one thing that did stand out, was Aoi’s very stubborn and independent nature. I always wonder why girls dumbly agree to marry strangers on a whim, especially ones who are very dominant and obnoxious, however. Aoi does not do that. She is very adamant about not getting married to someone she knows nothing about, and someone who is also from another plane or world. It is the most common-sense attitude and being able to see it—quite possibly for the first time in anime/manga—made me feel happy.
Aoi’s character design is also quite basic. She does not have extraordinary beauty or colourful traits (red or pink hair, purple eyes, etc.) that scream she is the protagonist. She has short brown hair and naturally coloured eyes. Her design is purely simple. On one hand, it does nothing to really set the visual design of the anime overall apart from others this season, on the other, I found it to be a pleasant change of pace from the bizarre construction of leading ladies typical to the medium. I mention this odd quality now because it was something that stood out to me during the 24-minutes I was watching the pilot. Not having a visually loud character helped me to pay more attention to the story that was unfolding, and it also allowed me to pay attention to other characters surrounding her.
Because the anime’s main setting is the Hidden Realm where the ayakashi reside, there is a strong traditional and historical Japanese aesthetic to it. We see Edo Era-style buildings and attire, with lots of cherry blossom petals flying this way and that. The animation quality itself is quite average, but this aesthetic makes up for it, especially when coupled with the traditional shamisen-infused music. I found them to be very enjoyable.
The last thing I liked is the food. I mention it often on my blog, so some of you may recognise my gravitation to this element, but I love anime food and serials that revolve around cooking. As someone who is a passionate chef whenever I can be, the conjuring of yummy delights and interesting recipes will always catch my eye. Aoi makes a simple dish in the episode, and the idea of learning more recipes and seeing more such dishes, is a facet that makes me want to keep watching.
Yet, aside from a female protagonist who is not a pushover, the mild richness of classic Japanese culture, and good munchies, the episode was rather rudimentary, to the point where it could be construed as boring. There is nothing special about the Oni demon, in his design or attitude. The other characters that Aoi meets give off a strong reverse harem vibe, which is a trope I do not enjoy unless it is written well (Yona of the Dawn is an excellent example, you should check it out). The main trope of a girl having to pay off her family’s debt plays out in a formulaic and unoriginal means. In addition, the overall animation, particularly for a pilot episode, is wholly unimpressive and subpar.
Ultimately, I would not recommend Kakuriyo unless you really love the central trope used in the narrative, or, like me, you like anime with food. Aside from that, the episode was boring and uneventful. Nonetheless, I do acknowledge that it was an introduction, and a tiny part of me hopes that the story will obtain much more depth as it goes on.
You can catch Kakuriyo –Bed & Breakfast for Spirits— on CrunchyRoll on Monday mornings.