Title: Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits Vol. 1
Author: Midori Yuma (Story), Waco Ioka (Art), Laruha (Character Art)
Publisher: Viz Media
Publication Date: January 1, 2019
Aoi’s grandfather Shiro passed away. Apparently, he was a feisty fellow who garnered a lot of enemies thanks to his exploits. Aoi isn’t Shiro’s true granddaughter in the sense that he adopted her. Despite this, Aoi and Shiro had one thing in common: They could both see Ayakashi or spirits. Ayakashi would appear in the human world with the intent to eat humans, but Aoi would feed them and ended up becoming a bit famous for her generosity. One day, Aoi comes across a human in a mask that she could sense to be an Ayakashi. She feeds him and when she returns from class to retrieve her lunch box, she is swept away to Kakuriyo, the realm of the spirits.
There, she learns that the spirit who took her is an Odanna, the master of an inn that serves spirits and one of the eight guardians of the gates that link their world to the human world. Shiro had the power to travel in between worlds at will and ended up staying at the inn many times. He racked up a 100 million yen debt based off of a drunken tirade and couldn’t pay it off. His choices were to either work it off or to be eaten by the Ayakashi. He chose Option C and promised the Odanna one of his granddaughters as a bride. This is where Aoi comes in.
She makes a bargain with the Odanna, saying she will work off her grandfather’s debt in exchange to be excused from the marriage but none of the staff there will hire her simply on the fact that she is a human. One Ayakashi named Ginji treats her well and runs an establishment of his own. When he learns that Aoi knows how to cook, he wants her to cook for him again… but doesn’t exactly offer her a job. A disturbance at the inn happens when a high-ranking Ayakashi, called a Tengu, was displeased with the food and started making a scene. Our volume ends abruptly on a rather non-cliffhanger note of Aoi feeling like she’s wasting her time.
The premise is rather interesting but the first volume doesn’t really kick things into a gear that it needs to in order to hook its readers. It feels like the first volume is unfinished in the sense that there wasn’t anything to hook the reader into reading a second volume. All it needed was a couple of more pages and have Aoi serve the Tengu some of her food, thus forcing her way onto the staff as the next head chef. That would have been a better resolution than her just walking away defeated. I felt that the first volume dropped many obvious clues as to where the story was going but did nothing to really indicate that the story was going in that direction. The whole volume was just filled with implications that went nowhere.
Aoi is just as the Ayakashi describe her: plain. She has no real redeeming qualities in her character outside of the fact that she’s a good cook. Her personality is rather flat and she doesn’t exactly play the victim role all that well here. She’s very quick to accept what happened to her and her protest wasn’t really convincing enough to have me believe that she really wants to leave. We get that she dislikes the Odanna for bringing her here and that’s about the only interesting conflict with her. While she seemed happy to have met Ginji, she didn’t seem overly relieved that there was only one Ayakashi that was on her side. It was like “ok, you’re friendly, I’ll roll with it.” I don’t know if it was the art or the dialogue to blame but she is a very plain and uninteresting main character.
The Odanna is a more interesting main character because he is as Ginji described him… caring yet relentless. Get on his good side, he’ll treat you like gold. Refuse his offers and he’ll verbally lash you like no other. His smug and cocky attitude also help shape his character and the respect that he commands just by being present in a room speaks for itself. His fair side is shown when he agrees to allow Aoi to work off her grandfather’s debt but his relentless side showed when he said he would not offer any assistance. It would be up to her to find work and if she can’t she will either be eaten or forced to marry him. He also wants to marry her only for the raise in status and nothing else. There’s zero love between the two of them.
Ginji, though, happens to be my favorite character thus far. He’s very polite and can shapeshift between nine different forms which is an ability of being a nine-tailed fox (dattebayo!). Ginji can appear as an adult, a child, a fox pup, or even a woman. We haven’t seen his other forms yet but he, apparently, has known Aoi since she was little and has had many interactions with her grandfather. This explains why he’s so willing to help her but the rest of his past is still shrouded a bit in mystery. So far, he’s the best-developed character out of the whole cast which is why I find him the most interesting.
I just can’t agree with the pacing of volume one. While the groundwork is there, I don’t feel like the series went anywhere. Typically, in a first volume, you want to establish the main cast of characters, introduce the world, build a conflict, and end the volume on a note that emphasizes that conflict and makes readers want to read volume two.
We got the cast, we established the world, but the conflict, while present, seemed to take a back seat to Ginji befriending Aoi. Almost to the point where it became an afterthought. Sure, the conflict was there and present throughout the whole volume but the way the characters were handled, it didn’t seem like the conflict was put at the forefront enough. Then, we didn’t get a cliffhanger ending to emphasize that conflict and bait the readers into picking up a second volume.
Don’t get me wrong. The story is rather interesting and I’m sure volume two will develop things a bit further. I’m just saying that there was more potential here in volume one and it was completely missed. I’ll still keep an eye on this series as I’m hoping it finds its pacing and rhythm. I mean, it was good enough to get a television anime that received a fairly high rating so it has to get better from here, right?
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This item was provided for review by Viz Media