Female college student Aoi has been able to see ayakashi for as long as she can remember. One day Aoi hands over her lunch box to a hungry oni, but in return he kidnaps her and spirits her away to the hidden realm. The oni has taken her to Tenjin-ya, the inn he runs, and is determined to make her his bride as copensation for her grandfather’s debt to him. Aoi refuses and gives him a counter offer: rather than marrying him, she will work off the debt at his inn instead.
This has been the first premiere this season that has pleasantly surprised me. There are so many high profile releases this Spring that Kakuriyo got lost in the shuffle so I had zero expectations going into this first episode.
A big part of why I liked this episode was due to the lead’s personality. The opening scenes of the episode establish that she is kind-hearted; she is attentive to the needs of the ayakashi that only she can see as she goes about her morning, giving them bits of food here and there, and even her lunch box when she encounters the oni later in the episode. Part of this is because of the fact that ayakashi are dangerous to humans when they’re hungry, but it still establishes her generosity. However, she’s no pushover; she attempts to flee from the inn when she first arrives, and when the oni insists that she marry him she point blank refuses and insists that she will work to pay off her grandfather’s debt in his place. Despite the strange and unfamiliar situation she has found herself in she stands her ground.
We are introduced to the oni, who is unnamed as of this first episode, and Ginji, a nine tailed fox who is the young master of the inn. The oni doesn’t make a great first impression; he is very insistent about marrying Aoi against her wishes, and doesn’t think there is anything strange about the fact that her grandfather basically sold her away to get out of a debt. There are hints that he has a softer side deep down, with Ginja describing him as “cool-headed and merciless”, but also big hearted and well respected by his employees, as well as the fact that his idea of “Torture In Hell” which he subjects Aoi to is actually just a chill hot springs spa treatment. We can assume that as he and Aoi grow closer he will let his softer side show. Ginji is much more immediately likeable; he sneaks Aoi an evening meal and does everything he can to help her find a job to earn her keep at Tenjin-ya.
By the end of the episode, Aoi has found herself a niche to fill at the inn. There is an abandoned restaurant out back. Despite being warned that the building is cursed and her business will most likely fail, she decides to open an eatery there on the advice of Ginji because her cooking is different to the posh fare at the inn and could draw in some customers. I love a good food-related anime, so when I found out that this was what she’d be doing I knew I’d be giving this series at least a few more episodes. Despite the fact that the rest of the production is fairly middling, the food featured so far looks pretty good! I’m more than happy to watch twenty-six episodes of Aoi feeding the various ayakashi that show up at the eatery.
Other than the initial premise of Aoi running the restaurant to pay off her debt, we get a taste of things to come when we see a new character revealing that he knows a human has arrived and that it’s an interesting development when the day of a mysterious “ceremony” that remains unexplained is fast approaching. I’m interested to know where that story hook is going even though it probably won’t be addressed right away. I also want to know why her grandfather thought it was okay to literally sell his granddaughter after going on a binge at a fancy inn, but whether that will get covered is another matter.
Although it doesn’t have a huge amount of wow factor, Kakuriyo has started the season with a solid first episode that lays the groundwork for what could be a decent anime. If you like supernatural stories, cute demon guys or tasty looking food then this is well worth half an hour of your time. I’ll certainly be giving it a few more episodes to prove itself.
- Aoi is an immediately likeable protagonist thrust into a Spirited Away-esque scenario
- The “Torture In Hell” spa day scene
- As a potential love interest the master of the inn can come off a bit creepy initially with his entitlement to Aoi and the fact that he sees nothing wrong with essentially buying her as his wife through a debt