Kakuriyo -Bed & Breakfast for Spirits-

Kakuriyo -Bed & Breakfast for Spirits-

After losing her grandfather, Aoi—a girl who can see spirits known as ayakashi—is suddenly approached by an ogre. Demanding she pay her grandfather’s debt, he makes a huge request: her hand in marriage! Refusing this absurd offer, Aoi decides to work at the Tenjin-ya bed and breakfast for the ayakashi to pay back what her family owes.

After offering an ayakashi spirit some food, Aoi finds herself spirited away to a hidden realm where spirits dwell. She awakens in Tenjin-ya, an inn run by the ogre Odanna. When Odanna reveals that Aoi has been promised to him by her late grandpa, she is appalled. She can’t believe that he would arrange such a thing in order to pay ff a debt – yet here she is.

To Aoi’s credit, she refuses to be an ogre’s concubine despite the repercussions of no longer having his protection in this alien world if she does so – and she’s living in a realm of spirits that enjoy the taste of human flesh. She offers to pay the debt off through hard work, though no one in the inn will hire her. She stumbles into an empty building that Ginji, a nine-tailed fox spirit and young master at Tenjn-ya, informs her that this annex is set up as a restaurant, but never receives any customers. After watching Aoi whip up some delicious snacks, hr suggests that she takes over the restaurant to provide human food to an array of spirits here in the hidden realm.

Although a lot of inhabitants take an instant dislike or aversion to Aoi due to her sudden arrival and the obvious favour shown to her by the handsome Odanna, her kind ways and strong spirit eventually start to garner her some allies. After nursing an old man back to health, not knowing that he was one of the eight great yokai that rule the ayakashi world, she makes a friend in a high place and once again gains the attention of those that work at Tenjin-ya. With her outlook lifted, Ai begins to think that she just might be able to pay off her grandfather’s debt after all.

In a season where there is so much great anime available (I couldn’t drop much – I wanted to see it all!), I would have usually dropped Kakuriyo -Bed & Breakfast for Spirits- in favour of returning favourites, but something made me keep this one in my queue, and that was the character of Aoi. She wasn’t just a helpless young female sucked into a different realm thinking that there was nothing else for her to do except throw herself on the mercy of her handsome demon host. She refuses to be his bride from the get-go and her mind races for other ways to pay off her grandfather’s debt. She has a determination that instantly set her apart from the basic, vapid protagonist and it’s nice to see her hold her own against a varied and colourful supporting cast.

We also get to see some shots of great anime food, which is always a plus in my books. Aoi makes some gorgeous-looking cherry ice cream for O-Ryo after she comes down with a fever, and the oyakodon she makes for her when she’s on the mend looked delicious. And it doesn’t end there – this beautiful artwork extends to the decorative dinnerware Odanna gifts Aoi and the external shots of Tenjin-ya and the surrounding areas are just stunning.

You can also tell from an early stage that there are plenty of relationships to be explored on a deeper level. A lot of the residents of Tenjin-ya, unbeknownst to Aoi, know o her grandpa. Some of them disliked him and others admired him and we can already see these facts causing rifts between the siblings Akatsuki and Suzuran now that Aoi is here. But the most intriguing relationship is between Aoi and the ogre Odanna. Though she rejects him, he is still favouring her with gifts and calling her his bride. Is he just humouring her desire to pay off her debt by opening a restaurant, or will be end up respecting her success? Will Aoi end up falling for him naturally? I’ll have to wait and see.

There appears to be a lot of substance to Kakuriyo -Bed & Breakfast for Spirits-, so I’m hoping that we start to examine the supporting cast more deeply and see in which direction the story goes – and whether Aoi will be able, or if she wants to, return to the ‘apparent’ realm once her debt has been paid.