The spirit world is scandalized when the Ogre Lord takes Aoi out for dinner. Unfortunately, she’s got much bigger problems than the front page of tomorrow’s Kakuriyo Enquirer.
Original Story: Midori Yuma
Art: Waco Ioka
Character Design: Laura
Translation/Adaptation: Tomo Kimura
Touch-Up Art and Lettering: Joanna Estep
Design: Alice Lewis
Editor: Pancha Diaz
What They Say:
Aoi Tsubaki inherited her grandfather’s ability to see spirits—and his massive debt to them! Now she’s been kidnapped and taken to Kakuriyo, the spirit world, to make good on his bill. Her options: marry the head of the inn her grandfather trashed, or get eaten by ayakashi. But Aoi isn’t the type to let spirits push her around, and she’s determined to redeem her grandfather’s IOU on her own terms!
Aoi’s having no luck finding a job at the Tenjin-ya inn, but a chance encounter with the tengu Matsuba might give her another option! Her home cooking and kind manner impress Matsuba, and when he finds out why she’s in Kakuriyo, he offers to welcome her into his family as a daughter-in-law to pay off her debt! Can the still unemployed Aoi afford to turn down such a generous offer?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The Kakuriyo manga is such a faithful adaptation of the anime that I’m having trouble parsing any sorts of feelings about the manga itself. Fortunately, the anime was good, so the manga is good too. However, when I’m reading it, I’m not sure how much I’m interpreting the manga as a manga, and how much I’m just remembering the episodes in my head. It’s a compliment to the adaptation that it’s so seamless, but I’m having a hard time imagining how this would read to someone who wasn’t already familiar with the story.
Aoi continues to solve her problems with cooking rather than force, which I never get tired of reading about. Kakuriyo is far from the only manga to do this, but there’s something special about this particular approach. You never see the kind of complex, ambitious dishes here that you might encounter in say, Food Wars!; Aoi only makes simple fare, like a meat-and-potato stew. She makes the kind of home-cooked dishes that people remember from their childhoods, and being able to tap into those kinds of memories has a lot of value, even in the spirit world.
There’s something interesting going on here with how humans are perceived by the ayakashi. In the first volume, Aoi suffered a lot of verbal abuse for being human, yet it’s clear that human culture, and particularly human food, are held in high regard in this world. Add the fact that human women are preferred as brides for certain classes of ayakashi, and you have to wonder if the constant human-bashing is really just a cover story for a fixation with humans. But if the ayakashi are obsessed with humans, why is that? Is there something lacking in their own world, or is it just the appeal of the exotic, forbidden fruit?
Psychology of the spirit world aside, the flirty banter between Aoi and the Ogre Lord continues to be a lot of fun. He’s amused that they’ve fallen into a kind of classic romance trope, and is clearly enjoying it. Aoi wants to be angry and righteously indignant, since it’s her life that’s being messed with, but on some level, she’s clearly amused by the situation despite herself. She does get angry at her suitor for his presumptuous treatment of her at times, but he’s not the one she’s really mad at; the person who put her in this situation, as she well knows, was her grandfather. And since her grandfather is no longer here for her to yell at, being angry is a waste of energy.
It doesn’t even occur to Aoi to be angry at her mother, an absent figure who nevertheless casts a dark shadow on this volume. Aoi’s mother abandoned her (and may have been abusive before then, depending on how much you read between the lines), and it’s likely thanks to this difficult childhood that Aoi developed her tough-as-nails personality. It’s curious what we’re supposed to make of this; Aoi’s toughness and self-reliance are admirable traits, but she clearly acquired them the hard way, to put it mildly. After having such a rough time in the human world, maybe Aoi isn’t even that bothered by being abducted to Kakuriyo…even if she hasn’t necessarily realized that yet. Ginji, an adorable spirit fox (who totally knows more about Aoi’s past than he’s letting on), seems determined to make her captivity as pleasant as possible, at the very least.
In fact, thanks to Ginji, Aoi now has a plan to pay back her grandfather’s debt: open a restaurant on the grounds of the inn that serves the kind of comfort food she specializes in, but separate from the rest of Tenjin-Ya. Since every ayakashi who touches Aoi’s food tends to react like they’ve just discovered the Holy Grail of Yum Yums, it seems like this will be an easy way to earn the cash she needs. However, it’s not that simple; not everyone at Tenjin-Ya is happy that the Ogre Lord is fixated on a human female, and they’re prepared to implement some frighteningly permanent solutions to the problem.
Can Aoi make a name for herself as a newbie restaurateur while fending off supernatural assassination attempts? Furthermore, can she charm her would-be assassins into friendship with the promise of home-made ice cream? Of course, she can, because this is Kakuriyo: it’s a truly magical place.
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: B
Age Rating: Teen
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: March 5, 2019
MSRP: $9.99 USA/ $12.99 CAN