Female college student Aoi inherited her deceased grandfather's ability to see ayakashi. One day, while Aoi is feeding some ayakashi, a demon appears! He declares that Aoi's grandfather owed a great debt, and as compensation, Aoi must marry the demon! Aoi refuses, and decides to pay off the debt by working.
I had got the impression that Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi (Hidden realm: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits) was more or less a copy of Kamisama Hajimemashita (which I highly enjoyed). Both seemed to have the same premise; a Japanese folk lore setting, a mundane girl in her late teens who are involved with spirits (ayakashi) from the hidden realm, with the potential for a reverse harem and lots of shoujo romance stuff. Which sure can be a very good thing if done as in Kamisama Hajimemashita.
I was both right and wrong. The premise was indeed similar, with our girl Aoi Tsubaki having her life changed drastically
and are forced to a new life in the Hidden realm, the Japanese folk lore setting, and lots of cute ayakashi guys for a potential reverse harem. Aoi like Nanami looks like your average lead for this kind of show with mouse brown hair and plain features.
But the similarities only go so far. Because, the main theme of the KnY isn´t a reverse harem, or even romance. It´s mainly about food and the importance of food in our lives really. As this can be utterly disappointing for some, I actually grow to highly appreciate KnY for just this reason.
The narrative is mostly episodic with each episode address some kind of problem for Aoi to solve (mostly by cooking delicious food). There is a more overarching plot though, it´s just not the main focus the first half of the show. And those 1-episode stories actually contribute to the overarching plot in the end as well, so the feeling that I wasted my time on filler bs never occurred.
I mentioned that the show focused a lot on food and how it influences our lives. Well, cooking isn´t just a hobby for Aoi, it’s a way of survival. You see, Aoi has a strong spiritual energy and have always been able to see ayakashi. Said strong spiritual energy has attracted hungry ayakashi all her life, and to give her a tool to protect herself her grandfather taught her to cook delicious food that ayakashi like, so she could give them the food instead of getting eaten herself (this isn´t a spoiler, it is established very early in the show). When she gets spirited away by a handsome Ogre spirit and declared as his bride as payment for her grandfather’s debt, she refuses and want to work of the debt instead. And here is where her cooking skills really come to use.
I grow highly interested in the Japanese kitchen during this watch. It´s so different from where I come from, and I really do want to try some of the food she made. But the allure of the food and cooking extended further than just that it looked tasty, it also brought up the spiritual and mental emotions that food can create. Just imagine that you been gone from your home for a long time and then someone cooks a dish that you love from your home town. The nostalgia, the happiness and even safety one can feel at such a moment is really astonishing. Or that you are so bored with food that you pretty much lost your appetite, and then someone places a delightful home cooked meal that surprises all your senses (smell, texture, taste, vision etc.). Or that you just are hangry and get a lovely meal, and what it does for your state of mind. Or how it can connect us, shearing food together and rejoice in the flavours and how satisfied it can make us feel.
KnY brings up all these scenarios and then some. Of course, the show isn´t exclusively about food and cooking, but it is the topic in the spotlight and I aren´t complaining. There is definitely some romance going on but it´s heavily taking the backseat, so don´t expect a full-blown romance to develop fast, because then you only will get disappointed.
The reverse harem theme is also almost absent, even if there are a lot of cute ayakashi guys around. But they have more independent roles than being a harem member, which worked absolutely fine in this case. And there are almost as many female characters present, which many have funny personalities and important roles as well.
Aoi as the female lead does differ a bit from your copy and past persona for this kind of role. She is very ordinary yes, but in the most relatable way, because she has indeed a personality and background as well. She knows her limits and works with what she has – a bone hard determination, a genuine will to understand others and brilliant skills in cooking. She is kind, stubborn, positive and caring, a real goodie good girl but not the least mentally weak. Aoi gets a lot of mean shit thrown at her in the Hidden realm, and copes with it like a boss.
Oodanna (the handsome Ogre spirit) could´ve been portrayed as a real creep, but wasn´t. I have had problems with this type of set up before, the older mystical creature declares young female to be his bride (yes, looking at you The Ancient Magus' Bride). But besides calling Aoi his wife, he does no creepy things like bathing her as a first thing when she arrives to the Hidden realm. He looks after her from a non-intruding angle, gives her the tools and protection she needs, and lets her find her own way in this new strange situation.
Studio Gonzo has done a good job on the art and animation. Not perfect per say, but over my expectations. Vivid colours, detailed backgrounds and environments, and varied and distinct character designs. The food looks yummy, the ayakashi´s magic looks dramatic, and the atmosphere is spot on.
Honestly, I haven´t paid much attention to the soundtrack, but it´s for sure not bad. The 2 openings however are awesome, especially the second one. Certainly, the best in a long while. Recommend you look them up, even if you´re not going to watch the show itself. Voice acting is also top notch, with veterans such as Noa Touyama and Katsuyuki Konishi as the main leads.
This has been my “feel-good” show during it´s airing time, and I enjoyed it a lot, even if the reasons for said enjoyment originate from completely different sources then I first believed. Which is a bit odd since that I´m not even that into the SoL-genre. The setting is a familiar one in anime, but it´s has its own main themes and feeling. I can warmly recommend KnY to anyone that is looking for a Japanese folk lore setting, cosy atmosphere, and a wee bit of romance. And especially if you enjoy food in any way, eating it, cooking it, exploring new kitchens etc. It was a surprisingly stimulating main theme.
Cast in a spirit world of mythology and supernatural entities, Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi (Bed & Breakfast for Spirits) came together as a 2-cour show of enchanting brilliance. It’s actually based on a light novel but the ideas behind it reminds me of reading fantasy literature where the author knows what the readers wants. As a show that people probably overlooked this year, this anime definitely sets the bar.
Written by Midori Yuuma, some of the authors’ work all contain several genres mixed together. When I began watching this show, it gave me the impression of a mythical slice of life while blending in cooking elements. Then,
you add some demonic entities in this show and volia, we have Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi. Make no mistake, Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi is relatively simple to understand but may be hard to truly embrace. From my first viewing, it felt like the series was aiming to please a certain demographic. Folks who enjoy slice of life with an easy pacing may find this more watchable than others. However, this anime does accomplish a variety of goals that I think needs to be recognized.
The plot focuses on a college student named Aoi Tsubaki who has the ability to see Ayakashi. These entities are spirits that we’ll see often throughout the show and she inherited this ability from her grandmother. It doesn’t take long for an Ayakashi to take her to a place known as the “Hidden Realm”. It’s a place where Ayakashi spends their lives. Aoi finds out the hard way as she realized her grandfather owed a debt. The collateral? It’s herself. It sets up for an arranged marriage as Aoi is forced to marry Oodanna to pay off the debt. However, she proposes to pay the debt by working at a restaurant there. What we get now is a human girl in this spirit world as her life changes forever. What does this all sound to you? If it reminds you of series like Kamisama Kiss or The Ancient Magus Bride, then you would be right. Both series involves a human girl getting involved with a not-so-normal entity while they adapt with a new lifestyle. From there on, they take on their role while surprising everyone at what they can really do. However, I would also say that this anime made a distinction of its own.
To put it into perspective, the sensation I got from this series blends slice of life with fantasy with also a bit of shoujo vibe. Aoi is a standard female protagonist and despite her unique talent, she still falls under traps of being a damsel in distress. She often gets herself caught in danger by being at the wrong place at the wrong time. This is especially shown early in the series when she gets lost around the Hidden Realm. However, Aoi is also a very kind and gentle person. She accepts others for who they are and sincerely cares about the well-being of others, especially those who she trusts. Throughout the series, others sees her as a reliable and honorable person rather than just a marriage candidate. I think this is particular true for Oodanna as the two begins to understand each other more. Of course, there’s some subtle romance elements between the two. However, the show doesn’t fully explore that territory as this isn’t a love story. Joining them also includes other bishounens like Ginj, Akatsuki, and Byakuya. Ginji is noticeable from this list as he’s the first Ayakashi to show kindness to Aoi. As a nine-tailed fox, he also has the unique ability to shapeshift. It didn’t take long for him to notice Aoi’s culinary talent either. On the other hand, Akatsuki comes off as one of the more unfriendly characters. It’s hard to get along with him and the show makes it clear through effective storytelling in the form of flashbacks. Indeed, be prepared for a lot of flashbacks in the show especially on Aoi. She is the most important character in the story and this show attempts its best at getting us to understand her more.
As Aoi meets and more characters, some will definitely find her as a nuisance and even sees the girl as a rival. Oryou is the most prominent example of this as she becomes jealous of her presence. It’s not exactly a love rivalry despite her obvious feelings towards Oodona. It’s more about Oryou trying to prove herself as being better. After a certain incident, she sees Aoi less as a rival and more as a friend. This sort of Aoi’s innate ability to change certain characters in the series is definitely something valuable. Initially, many characters in the series distrust her simply because she is human. However, Aoi can virtually make friends with just about anyone after proving herself. Other female characters in the series such as Kasuga and Shizuna also respects her as a person they can trust in.
With 26 episodes, you may be asking yourself how to really enjoy this series. To be honest, there isn’t an easy answer but treating this show as a fantasy slice of life feels like the best route to go. The plot isn’t complex and it’s easy to understand the story. It doesn’t try to mislead viewers or try be something it’s not. There’s also cooking elements in the show that enhances the experience for those who seek some decorative slice of life. I’ve seen plenty of slice of life series and this anime crafts its cooking content with creativity.
To be honest, Gonzo is an unusual choice for this show. From day one, I asked myself is they can make this show look like what it is and thankfully, there’s no worries. My first impression of the artwork is the shoujo-like character designs. Let’s face it, the bishounens in this series are pretty boys with handsome features. Even as Ayakashi, most of them look human. Then, there’s Aoi with her feminine and delicate character design. The show is also known for creating charming little critters like Chibi. In their mythical forms, most of the characters gives the impression of Japanese mythology. This is because the show is set in a spirit world and everything looks dream-like with a feeling of enchanting mystique. Similarly, this extends to the decorative theme songs of the show and character voices. Last but not least, I can also say with confidence that the food in the show look realistic enough to please. There’s a variety with carefully crafted texture and details for every dish no matter how simple or complicated.
Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi is a hidden gem from this year that most people may have overlooked. I have to admit that prior to watching this show, I had little interest in it either until realizing what it was really about. A fantasy slice of life anime like this doesn’t come by too often and can feel like a trick pony. But after finishing the series, it definitely convinced me to hope for more shows like this in the future.
Please note this review is intended to be read by those that have finished watching Kakuriyo and while care has been taken to minimize story related spoilers there may still be spoilers within character analysis. You have been warned.
A world where determination, great food, kindness and understanding of others can help promote friendship and understanding that transcends race and worlds.
Based off the popular Light Novel of the same name Kakuriyo No Yadomeshi which is often shortened to just Kakuriyo is a supernatural and romance-themed anime that gives us the opportunity to see what will happen if a teenage girl from the realm of
man was to be whisked away and into a parallel world where both spirits and various types of mythical creatures such as Ogre’s, nine-tailed foxes and Yuki-Onna’s exist and most surprisingly be introduced to her future marriage partner that no one has told her about. The idea of being drawn from the human realm to another world is not something that is rare within the anime industry as we can see from the large amounts of anime that make use of the trapped in the game and traveling to another world ideas in the form of renowned series such as Sword Art Online and Log Horizon. However, I felt that Kakuriyo’s premise of being drawn into a parallel world where mythical creatures such as Ogre’s exist and being presented as a bride in order to pay off the debt of a relative was an interesting one as it allowed us as the viewer to see not just how the social standings of the various races work within the world but also allow us to see how a normal human girl like the main character Aoi would react as she enters this world and encounters the various rules and stigma that others view her with. The first episode of the series I felt was an excellent episode that did a great job of not just introducing us to the parallel world within the series but also introduce the two main characters of the series which was Aoi Tsubaki and Oodanna and their strong-willed and conflicting natures that clashed with each other. From this, I was impressed enough in that I decided to watch this series until the very end and I was glad that I did.
Taking place within the parallel world that is called the hidden realm by its inhabitants the hidden realm is a land that resembles a fusion of ancient Japan and a fantasy world. While having many concepts that are recognizable from ancient Japan such as ancient inns, ninja’s and clothing suitable for that era the realm also features many elements of fantasy such as magic, flying ships and of course the various races that inhabit the different realms that make up the hidden realm. It is in this world that is hidden from the realm of human kind that the inhabitants of the realm who call themselves the ayakashi live their lives in a manner that is almost identical to that of normal human beings while co-existing with their fellow ayakashi in an age where conflict is all but unknown and where encounters with beings other than them are rare indeed. The overall story of the series follows the life of Aoi Tsubaki a human college student who while on her way to college one day is kidnapped and brought to a new world called the hidden realm and told that due to her recently deceased grandfathers’ debt Aoi must marry the head of a well-known inn as per an ancient agreement that was agreed between the two of them. Despite the situation facing her the ever so defiant Aoi refuses to obey the contract and instead counters with a proposal of her own in which she would work off her grandfather’s debt by opening up and operating an eatery within the inn.
As Aoi opens up and begins operating her eatery the Moonflower she while overcoming the many hardships and stigma that she faces from the many races that make up the ayakashi would gradually start to realize that preparing delicious and beautiful food would not just allow her to pay off her debt but at the same time allow her to learn about not just the various races that inhabit the realm but also allow her to solve their various problems by listening to them, understanding them and try and devise solutions that will help them overcome such burdens and in the process not just forming strong friendships and bonds with each other but also allow her to come up with solutions to solve the many hidden problems that exist within the realm. Joining Aoi in her quest to use food to forge friendships and understanding between races are a host of characters that while mostly hostile to her at first soon become some of her best friends and most loyal allies. These include the intimidating but surprisingly kind Ogre inn master Oodanna, the kind, and loyal nine-tailed fox Ginji, the arrogant but surprisingly fair young hostess Oryo and the calm but surprisingly perceptive accounting chief Byakuya. Together with her allies Aoi would begin a fantastic adventure that will allow her to not just explore the many different regions that form the hidden realm but also allow her to create many beautiful and delicious food that will be used to not just form friendships but also solve the many problems that exist within the realm.
Aoi voiced by veteran seiyuu singer Nao Touyama of The World God Only Knows and Kancolle fame is one of the main characters of the series and is the main heroine of the series. A college student from the human realm that was brought to the hidden realm through somewhat forceful means Aoi in the beginning of the series while understandably upset at the turn of events was also shown to be a kind and caring person that while getting scared easily was also steadfast in her beliefs even when faced by the most intimidating of ayakashi. While easily scared Aoi was also an intelligent, curious and fast thinking person that thanks to her perceptive skills was not just able to identify sudden shifts to people’s behaviors but also act upon them by using this to further her understanding of both people and events within this new world. While a quiet person by nature Aoi was also someone that was friendly, good-natured and humble and while facing a lot of hostility in the beginning was able to convert these feelings of antagonism and use these to forge bonds and friendship with the staff of the inn something that was helped greatly by her fair and honest nature and her desire to do her best for all of her friends and customers. As a result of her friendly and honest nature Aoi was someone that always believed that one must act based on what their heart tells them and while this choice may not always be the best choice in some situations it can be seen that Aoi is someone that believes firmly in this belief even when the alternative might have been better. This is seen in her attempts to help those in need and her attempts to solve the problems that they are burdened with despite not getting anything back in return showing just how caring she is as a person. While a quiet and calm person by nature Aoi while often hard pressed in the beginning of the series also showed that rather than causing her undue pressure that would cause most normal people to mess up the extra pressure instead had the opposite effect in that it actually helped in allowing her to come up with not just solutions but also new dishes that can be used to handle situations no matter how sudden a trait that I felt took great advantage of Aoi’s ability to not just think outside of the box but also take advantage of her knowledge of dishes from the human realm as well. This trait of being able to use pressure from others as a source of motivation for Aoi to create new dishes I felt was one that suited her personality really well.
A key part of Aoi’s personality that stems from her friendly and caring nature was her skills as a listener that takes advantage of her perception skills which allows her to not just understand the surface problem that someone is burdened with but also the underlying issues that may not be immediately visible due to a need to hide that fact something that I felt matched her image as both a cook and an eatery owner perfectly. While a very capable cook Aoi while loving the opportunity to both discover new recipes and ingredients is someone that can be surprisingly open-minded and honest in that she is willing to take feedback from others regarding her dishes and work hard to improve them showing not just how hardworking she is but also how determined she is to make sure that her dishes are able to fulfill the many promises that she has been bestowed with.
As the series goes on and as Aoi, not just realizes just how vast the hidden realm was but also encounter many different people and situations Aoi’s personality gradually starts to change. From the onset, it can be seen that Aoi while having a great deal of respect for her grandfather didn’t particularly hold him in high regard due to his rather eccentric personality and actions and indeed seem to view him with some amount of dislike. After his passing and seeing the kind of bonds and effects that he had within the hidden realm however this instead is replaced by a sense of regret in that she did not seek to renew their strained bonds even as he neared his end. As a result of this sense of regret Aoi also developed a belief that regrets were something that was very sad and that no one should have any regrets which soon served to become one of Aoi’s most potent sources of motivation as she set about the task of running her eatery. This is shown in Aoi’s development as not just a capable cook but also a person as well as she will by improving her cooking skills also seek to understand her customers and the regrets and needs that they have and create the perfect dish for them that ensures that after having her dish both their physical hunger and their psychological burden has been dealt with. While having few friends at the beginning of the series this gradually changes as the series goes on as Aoi’s friendly and honest nature soon begins to change the views of the people around her. As a result of this Aoi becomes very protective of the bonds of friendship that’s been formed between them and becomes very loyal to her friends and will do her utmost to protect them from harm even if it meant that she must take some daring actions to do so. A trait that I felt was an interesting development since Aoi initially was someone that was used to being alone.
A prominent belief that arose within Aoi as the series progressed was the belief that with her cooking ability she will be able to bridge not just the gap that exists between the human realm and the hidden realm but also between fellow ayakashi whose contrasting ideas often causes disagreements to form between them. A belief that only grows much more important during the second arc of the series as a result of Aoi bonding with the many ayakashi that inhabit the southern lands and the dire situation that the land is in due to past failures of an important ceremony. This belief I felt was an important development for Aoi as it showed the fact that Aoi has not just realized the importance of having loyal and important friends but also that her cooking ability can also be used for a much larger and more important purpose of mending the rifts that result from strained bonds and in the process saving a land from its cruel fate.
The character of Aoi I felt was an interesting one that was both well designed and developed. Aoi’s development from someone that was lonely, scared and had a deep sense of regret to someone that was not just brave but also determined to help those with their own burdens by understanding the underlying issues that plague them and creating a dish that solves it and in the process forming bonds of friendship with them being especially well thought out. I felt that her seiyuu Nao Touyama really did an excellent job at portraying the character of Aoi.
Ginji voiced by new voice actor Shunichi Toki is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Aoi’s allies within the series. An ayakashi that takes the form of a nine-tailed fox that’s silver in color Ginji is also a shapeshifter whose human form is the form that Aoi and the members of the inn encounter the most. The young master of the Tenjin ya inn and effectively part of that inn’s upper management Ginji from initial appearances was a kind, caring and positive being that despite his position was also an honest and modest being that had little ego and helped all those that he met in his duties. A responsible person by nature Ginji was someone that approached each situation in a calm and composed manner and will do his best in everything that he does which is shown in his attempts to help Aoi as her assistant despite the added duties that this entails. This however also means Ginji can be somewhat reluctant in letting others do his job as he feels that it's his responsibility given his role. Due to his personality its perhaps unsurprising that Ginji was one of Aoi’s first friends as unlike the rest of the inn he did not see Aoi as an enemy and indeed was somewhat intrigued that Aoi’s skills as a cook was that impressive and as a result as their bonds deepened Ginji grows very protective of Aoi and dislikes seeing her being used by others.
As the series goes on and more of Ginji’s character is revealed and expanded upon Ginji’s personality gradually starts to change. Despite his easy-going and friendly nature Ginji is someone that has a surprising lack of confidence in himself and while he has no shortage of acquaintances and fellow staffers that he can call upon it can be seen that Ginji tries to keep distance from them due to his low confidence and the fact that he feels that they do not trust him due his past. In fact, until Aoi’s appearance, Ginji’s best-known friendship was with the inn master Oodanna due to their long association in the past. Perhaps as a result of this Ginji was able to forge an immediate bond with Aoi due to her friendly and honest nature and in the process discover what its really like to have friends that he can count on. As a result of this, it can be seen that Ginji while valuing the fact that he can eat and have fun with his new friends is also very loyal to them and serious about their welfare and can become very distraught when he feels that he has failed them in some way.
The character of Ginji I felt was an interesting one that was both well designed and developed. In a way I felt that Ginji’s inner darkness which served as his development was very similar to how Aoi was in the past before her coming into the hidden realm in that both were lonely and had few people that they could trust and indeed it can be said that Aoi’s development as a character was what opened his heart to the many joys that friendship and trust can bring to someone and in the process liberate him from the darkness that held him back. This shared sense of development between the two of them I thought was pretty well done and illustrated the fact that friendships and bonds can also be used to liberate someone from the darkness that constrained their lives.
Oodanna voiced by veteran voice actor Katsuyuki Konishi of Bleach and Fairy Tail fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Aoi’s allies within the series. An ayakashi in the form of an ogre in human form and the master of the Tenjin Ya inn within the hidden realm Oodanna at the start of the series was a calm, composed and self-confident person that while quiet was also very professional and was highly regarded by both customers and his staff who viewed him with a high degree of respect. While appearing seemingly cold at first glance this was far from the truth as he was not just kind and caring but also intelligent and perceptive and treated everything and everyone fairly and is willing to place his trust in his staff something that his staff will do their utmost as to not betray. While a quiet person Oodanna was someone that was very loyal to his friends and while his usual self was normally polite and diplomatic this attitude can change dramatically if his friends are being treated harshly by others and will try to help them when needed. At the beginning of the series, Oodanna’s relationship with his bride Aoi was a tense one given the unique situation and though he is put off by her initial refusal to the proposal his impression of her gradually starts to change after seeing her determination to pay back her debt by working. In the beginning, while taking care to remain neutral to her work at the inn it can be seen that he also shows a great deal of concern for her and tries hard to dissuade her from any dangerous plans that she has thought off.
As the series goes on and Oodanna’s relationship with Aoi improves and as they are confronted with one crisis after another Oodanna’s personality gradually starts to change. While initially not supportive of Aoi’s efforts to open up an eatery as the series goes on and as Oodanna saw with his own eyes just how much effort Aoi was putting in to prove herself this attitude of his eventually changes and Oodanna begins to slowly support her and be willing to come running when she calls. Despite his aloof nature, Oodanna is not someone that will let his station hold him back and indeed when things get busy Oodanna can also willingly let go of his role and work alongside his staff by taking care of guests and cooking for them a side of his character that I felt was surprising. A prominent part of Oodanna’s personality is, without doubt, his motivations both as a person and as an inn master. While having great faith in not just his friends but also in his staff as well Oodanna is someone that encourages them to not just do their best at their duties but also have ambition and dreams as Oodanna believes that without it the ayakashi would not be able to advance themselves. As a result of this Oodanna is someone that hates those that have neither which is one of the reasons why he pushed Aoi to work harder and why he let his staff do actions on their own free will. As a result of this the bonds that he shares with his staff and forges with Aoi can be seen to be a strong one and its easy to see just why Oodanna has so much faith in Aoi not just as a person but also as a cook since he knows that both are trying hard to achieve their dreams. The character of Oodanna I felt was an interesting one that was both well designed and developed with his contrasting personality and his way of motivating both Aoi and the members of his staff being one of the best things about his character. I felt that his voice actor Katsuyuki Konishi did an excellent job of portraying the character of Oodanna.
Byakuya voiced by veteran voice actor Atsushi Tamaru of Asterisk Wars and Seiren fame is one of the main support characters of the series and is one of Aoi’s many allies within the series. The head of Tenjin Ya’s accounting department and thus one of Aoi’s bosses within the series Byakuya on initial appearances is a calm, composed and efficient person by nature that comes off as someone that’s strict and unsociable. A fact that is reinforced by the manner in which he treats Aoi at first as he only saw her as being the owner of a business that was not making a profit. While calm and composed Byakuya is also an intelligent, rational and logical person that while very serious about his job is also someone that’s willing to give people chances if they display the determination to do so. As a result of these qualities, it's perhaps unsurprising that Byakuya acts as the second in command to Oodanna where both his intellect and rational nature can also be used to locate and deal with threats to both the inn and to his friends and allies including to Aoi herself.
As the series goes on however and Byakuya’s personality is expanded upon it can be seen that while certainly strict and stern at times beneath this Byakuya is actually someone that has a surprisingly caring side to him which is best shown in the fact that he takes care of stray ayakashi in his spare time rather than say hole up in a dark room somewhere crunching numbers as most accountants would. In this state, it can be seen that Byakuya’s alternate personality is one that’s positive, cheerful and caring traits that I felt contrasted greatly with his normal strict self. As a result of this interesting side to his personality, I felt that it was quite funny at seeing him panic when he realizes that his secret has been exposed. At the beginning of the series, Byakuya as a result of his role as the head accountant of the inn had a somewhat antagonist relationship with Aoi due to the fact that despite Moonflower not making any profits at first Aoi was determined to keep it open as she tries to come up with the perfect recipes. However, as the series goes on and Byakuya came to both understand Aoi as a person as well as see the effects that her food has had on her many customers this sense of antagonism gradually disappears and is replaced by a healthy amount of respect for Aoi as both a person and a cook and as a result Byakuya gradually began to see her as a member of the inn. An interesting trait of Byakuya is that despite his calm and composed nature he can still get angry and when that happens his demeanor can be quite menacing which when used in dealing with upstarts like Raiju can be quite entertaining to watch.
Oryou voiced by veteran seiyuu Ai Kakuma of The Asterisk War and Brave Witches fame is one of the main support characters of the series and is one of Aoi’s allies within the series. An ayakashi in the form of a Yuki-onna that had taken on human form Oryou is the Tenjin Ya’s young hostess and as a result is the head of the hostesses that serve the many customers that come to Tenjin Ya. From the onset, it can be seen that Oryou is someone that while confident was also someone that was arrogant and rude to people and as a result while she was respected by the staff for her rank she had very few people that she can call her friends. This isn’t helped by the fact that in addition to being arrogant Oryou is also very rule-bound and would punish any infraction no matter how minor it is. As a result of this from the beginning of the series, Oryou actively viewed Aoi as a rival to her due to a combination of being the inn master’s fiancée and the fact that her hard work is earning her the respect of the staff while Oryou despite being here longer than her was getting nothing.
As the series goes on however and as Oryou gets to interact with Aoi more her personality gradually starts to change. While rule bound to a degree it can be seen that Oryou beneath her arrogant surface personality is actually someone that’s fair and honest with her feelings. Indeed, looking at her past it can be seen that Oryou when she first become a hostess was someone that was not just determined but also worked hard at everything that she did which is similar to how Aoi is within the anime. From this, it can be seen where her pride actually comes from as its obvious that she’s very proud of her status as the young hostess. Despite her confident nature, it can be seen that beneath this Oryou can be surprisingly fragile due in part to her lack of friends and to the fact that she distrusts outsiders to the inn which served to limit the interactions that she could have with Aoi. However, after being taken care off by Aoi after she had collapsed due to overwork Oryou’s attitude towards Aoi began to change after seeing how much effort Aoi put in to help her recover which caused her to realize just how foolish her own actions had been in trying to belittle her. As a result of this, the relationship between the two gradually thawed as Oryou becomes friendlier not just bonding with Aoi but also becoming not just fast friends but also one of Aoi’s most trusted allies. At the same time as a result of this change Oryou while still arrogant and distrustful of others become much friendlier and willing to help others with their problems a notable example being her attempts to help Nene her opposite number at the Orio Ya inn overcome her insecurity by covertly helping her with some tricky customers. While showing her skills as a hostess this I felt also did a great job of showing the kind of contacts that she has across the realm something that is pretty important to a hostess. The character of Oryou I felt was an interesting one that was both well designed and developed with her gradual evolution from an arrogant and condescending hostess to one that was both friendly, caring and willing to help her juniors improve their skills so that they can both help the inn and themselves being especially well done. The manner of how Oryou and Aoi bonded by having them share memories of how they were in the past I felt was pretty interesting. I felt that her seiyuu Ai Kakuma really did an excellent job of portraying the character of Oryou.
In terms of animation, I felt that the character designs for the series many characters were pretty well designed with the many species of ayakashi especially being so. This was helped greatly by the large variety of species that form the ayakashi that Aoi encounters within the series. I felt that the incorporation of species like Ogre’s, nine-tailed foxes, Yuki-Onna’s and the other races that feature prominently within Japanese mythology matched well with the fact that the world of the hidden realm is one that fuses ancient Japan with a fantasy world. The various settings and locations that Aoi and the cast visit I felt was pretty well designed and featured quite an impressive variety of terrain that made great use of the world’s lore. In particular, I felt that the areas around Tenjin Ya and the southern lands that housed Orio ya contrasted well with each other as the former while lacking in beauty and resources was stable and at peace while the southern lands while beautiful were also one plagued by misfortune. While Kakuriyo is a supernatural and romance-themed anime the few combat scenes within the series I felt while short was also well designed as while they showed the ayakashi’s desire to keep peace and avoid conflict with each other the scenes also showed how powerful the ayakashi can be if they were fighting to protect those dear to them.
The music within the series I felt was pretty well done with the OST, in particular, doing a great job of providing a great variety of music to the many kinds of situations that Aoi encounters while exploring the hidden realm. The series in total made use of two opening themes which was Tomoshibi No Manimani by Aoi’s seiyuu Nao Touyama and Utsushiyo no Yume that was sung by Nano. In total the series made use of 10 ending themes which was quite a lot even for a full season anime. I felt that the two opening themes both did a great job at conveying a sense of anticipation for the series with the first one doing a better job at this than the second one. The many ending themes for the series I felt did a great job at conveying the unique emotions and feelings that were attached to the events of each of the episodes in which they were featured in.
In terms of voice acting, I felt that the voice cast did an excellent job at portraying their assigned characters whether they were main ones or supporting ones. In particular, I felt that Nao Touyama, Shunichi Toki, Katsuyuki Konishi, Atsushi Tamaru and Ai Kakuma who portrayed the characters of Aoi, Ginji, Oodanna, Byakuya and Oryou respectively all did an excellent job at portraying their assigned characters. In addition, while I didn’t cover them I felt that Yuma Uchida, Maaya Uchida, Reina Ueda, Mitsuki Nakae, Aoi Yuki, Kaito Ishikawa and Sayaka Kaneko who portrayed the characters of Akatsuki, Suzuran, Shizuna, Kasuga, Ougon Douji, Ranmaru and Nene respectively all did an excellent job at voicing their assigned roles.
In overall Kakuriyo was an anime that I really enjoyed and was one of the few animes that I felt really deserves a full season. I felt that Kakuriyo’s greatest strengths were its interesting premise, excellent story, well designed and developed characters, creative emotional problems that require Aoi to solve, excellent voice acting and a lot of interesting life lessons.
The overall premise of the series which was the kidnapping of Aoi and being told that you have been promised to marry the ogre that you have been brought before and Aoi’s subsequent determination to not just refuse it but also display a desire to pay back the debt by working within the world I felt was an interesting one and certainly one that’s rare within the world of anime. However, while strong this premise won’t be enough if it doesn’t have a good enough story that it marries itself too and in this is another of Kakuriyo’s strengths. As a result of both the fact that Aoi is the fiancée to the inn’s popular master and also of the fact that Aoi is also a human it won’t be an understatement to say that Aoi’s journey to start to work off her debt by first opening her eatery was an easy one as the inn’s staff definitely tried their hardest to stop her. However while these actions were often petty these actions also allowed us to see how Aoi not just withstands these abuse but also start to gradually overcome the innate hatred and distrust that her detractors have for her via her actions that not only help the inn’s but also serve to prove to them that while human Aoi isn’t just a pretty face and has both a kind and caring personality and plenty of skills that easily make her an equal to her detractors. Watching Aoi gradually win over her detractors by not just showing her creativeness but also her excellent ability as both a cook and a listener I felt was something that was really well done and resonated well with the series main theme of forging bonds and friendships with the ayakashi and changing their opinion of humans.
While the story did a great job of showing how Aoi’s attempts to help others and solve their problems managed to win over plenty of ayakashi who formerly disliked her I felt that the reverse is also true as by interacting with the ayakashi and seeing their world Aoi not only realized how similar this world was to her own but gradually came to like it as well something that was the complete opposite of what she thought at first upon her arrival and a good indication that not just the ayakashi but Aoi herself is changing as they both interact with each other.
While the main plot was interesting I felt that the series also made great use of a number of subplots that not just took great advantage of the different lands and species that made up the realm by not just introducing the large variety of support characters that existed within the series but also expand upon them by allowing Aoi to interact with them and understand the issues that they are burdened with. While allowing Aoi to convert them from enemies to allies and friends these subplots also allowed us to see the many unique problems that bother each of the support characters which serve to expand upon their personalities something that I felt was well thought out. Overall Kakuriyo was an anime that I really enjoyed with its main strong points being its unique premise, story, characters, creative problems and excellent voice acting. As a final score I felt that Kakuriyo easily deserves a final score of 10/10.
Going through the intensive 6 months of this series, I have only but one word to describe this series: Decent. It's fine, it's meh, nothing good nor bad, both traits cancelled and equaled each other. And it's been a while since Gonzo has done a 2-cour series (since 2009), but the studio's quality of making anime has deteriorated overtime, and Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi is no different.
It's very easy to summarize the entirety of the show, not just because of the source material, but of how shallow the series the staff working on this show decided to place the various scenes around with coherent but inconsistent
- Girl gets summoned into the supernatural world (tempted to call it an Isekai, similarity sake) because of her predecssor's problems, then gets coerced into a "legal"-binding marriage with an ayakashi (or Spirit).
- To avoid this controversy of a major problem (pay off all debts of her deceased uncle), she sets up "shop" at the inn so that they can monitor her every action while she cooks up food from the apparent realm (the world humans live in) to appease and satisate all of the ayakashi's taste buds. Together with her companion Chibi (which is the small tortoise-looking kappa), the weird "love-romance" interest between Aoi and the Master (Oodanna) exists...? More likely as a source of protection.
Result: The first few episodes really got me intrigued...but somehow along the way it becomes repetitive. And also, you can throw the Isekai Shokudou reference out already, because this line is played consistently in EVERY episode, so much to the fact that it has gotten boring overtime.
- To make matters worse, she is caught in the fire of another inn, this time serving in the land of no return and acting as the rival inn to the one that she resides in.
- Adding the fuel to the fire, the rival inn ALSO knows of the travesty of the girl's deceased uncle, and aims to shoot everything at her feet while not giving her leeway to do as she pleases.
- The nail in the coffin: Some traditional festival to please the ayakashi god of that festival to maintain peace and prosperity, and the ayakashi in charge acts like some mean and demeanor villain to derail the rival inn and the girl's efforts...just to invoke some senseless and forced emotional "drama".
Result: A story that while handled by series composer, veteran Tomoko Konparu (Nodame Cantabile, NANA, Kimi no Todoke), is handled by someone whom has done a lot of Side-B directorials (key animation, character designs etc.) and this is her very first overall directorial work. But somehow, as good as how we perceived this series to be, the problems start showing up one after another, so much so when we needed the understanding link, it is nowhere to be found.
Aoi Tsubaki is a firm and steady girl, and does not give in to peer pressure, and I applaud Nao Touyama for voicing as her because for all intensive purposes, she is the perfect character for Aoi. Amidst the travesty of having to bear her uncle's (Shiro) tainted footsteps, by redeeming herself to restore the dignity of her relative, can she ever find relief in doing the things she loves.
The spirits governing and managing both Tenjin-ya and Orio-ya...let's just say "one's a company, two's a crowd, three's a party". Throughout the course of the series, they appear at the key moments where the Master and Aoi were having problems of their own, and they were the catalyst to "keep things moving" and substantiate the relationship of Aoi and the other ayakashi.
I never thought I would say this, but the number of characters here were perhaps a bit overbearing, like "What's the point of them showing up only when (specific) things occur"? The initial focus on both the romance of Aoi and Oodanna (this ain't a reverse harem), along with the friendships of the closest aide Ginji and Chibi the annoying kappa (which only eats cucumber), that switch is always on and off, to the point that I was wondering what is the resolution of the characters if they were meant to serve that one-and-only purpose.
Art and animation:
No surprise here, it's Gonzo. Their works of recent are less than impressive with nothing noteworthy of mention, and it doesn't help that the artwork is seriously washed out, animation is cut-thin while being of decent quality, and the entirely has an incomplete sense of quality. And despite all that, I think this is the perfect series that compromises everything about the studio: decent to downright mediocre. Nothing more to say about this aspect.
This particular OST is rife with the usual 2-cour OPs but MANY EDs due to the fact that certain episodes encompass the main male ayakashi as the centrifugal position (majority of screentime) where the series storytelling lands into. I'd say this was a somewhat interesting mix, so let's break it down:
OP: Great with Nao Touyama's voice talents and absolutely brillant with nano.
ED: Main EDs are great, with the various male ayakashi's VAs being OK at best.
Easily the best part about the series. And then again, nothing more.
In the end, this series, while being a poor man's effort of every other series done right, be it subtle references of such, is sadly a chore to watch once you get to know what is happening, and that as is remains for the core foundation of everything. So much so that the boredom and tireness tells the story of one irrefutable destiny that is laid dormant and never focused again. What a shame this is, playing the lame game all the time.
Although it still feels like it only just started, we are now somehow halfway through the Spring 2018 anime season already, and trends are now clearly starting to emerge. In the past three weeks, Boku no Hero Academia returns to prominence, Persona 5 sinks like a stone and more.
In these opening weeks of the Spring 2018 anime season, Steins;Gate 0 starts off as the by far highest rated anime, although Megalo Box is the new heavy hitter if we look past sequels. This and more in the opening edition of The Seasonal Quarterly.