Based on the whimsical anime, Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits is a gorgeously rendered isekai story. It brings together enemies, friends, and family through cooking, and includes a slowly simmering, sweet romantic plot. For fans who have already seen the anime, it will be a delightful treat to follow along this beautiful fantasy sprinkled with lots of yummy dishes along the way.

Aoi Tsubaki, a young woman who has just lost her grandfather, gets spirited away to Kakuriyo (the spirit world). Her grandfather ran up a debt to an ogre innkeeper and signed a contract for Aoi to become his bride.

Aoi is left with two choices, marry the master of the inn or be eaten by ayakashi who live in Kakuriyo. Refusing to accept either choice, Aoi renegotiates the contract with the rather attractive ogre: She will pay off her grandfather’s debt by working at Tenjin-ya, the inn that the ogre runs.

However, the ogre’s terms are strict: Aoi must find someone within the inn willing to hire her. Undeterred, Aoi forges ahead, finding out just how difficult it is to meet her captor’s terms. None of the spirits want to hire her and some are downright hostile to her presence.

The only solace Aoi can find is in the friendly charms of a fox spirit named Ginji, who guides her to a abandoned cottage that was formerly a restaurant. She makes Ginji a meal, which gives her the idea of opening a restaurant in the unused space. As the idea begins to form, a fight breaks out at Tenjin-ya among some tengu guests. In the ensuing chaos, Aoi is injured. At the end of volume one, Aoi’s spirit is a little broken by how the innkeeper and the others have treated her, not to mention the injury to her head.

Volume two picks up immediately after, with Aoi taking care of her injuries back in the abandoned restaurant as a drunken tengu named Lord Matsuba crash lands outside the cottage. Aoi brings him in and offers him some food to help him sober up. As a reward for saving the inn from further destruction from the drunken tengu, the innkeeper takes her out shopping and they share a meal.

Later on, Tenjin-ya’s jealous hostess, the snow woman Oryo, attempts to discredit Aoi. Her plan is thwarted and she is punished by the innkeeper who strips her of her position. This causes Oryo to fall ill due to the distress of it all. She winds up on Aoi’s doorstep and, just like with the Tengu lord, Aoi nurses her back to health. The volume ends with a tender bonus story of Aoi and her grandfather.

This story has the undeniable air of mysticism that comes with any fantasy manga portraying the spirit world. Though the manga is black and white, it felt as though the story came to life before my eyes. It also helped that I’d seen the anime a couple of times. Although the plot closely follows the anime, sticking to the same storyline, but has a different feel to it. The lines are more defined and the writer seems to have more time to delve a little deeper into characters’ storylines and feelings.

Aoi is a charming young woman. Though she faces a seemingly impossible situation in which there seems to be no happy ending, she doesn’t let that stop her from surviving in the best way she can. She is empathetic and nurturing to all the ayakashi she meets and feeds, even those that may treat her poorly. She’s positive in a way that is aware of herself, her past, and how she can use that knowledge to shape her future. It helps draw the reader further into this wonderful story.

The artwork is gorgeous with beautifully defined characters and art. This is especially important because of the food aspect within the manga. It’s not something that was haphazardly drawn. The food, which plays a vital role in the story, is meticulously drawn in a mouth watering detail. In terms of translation though, there are a few words that a novice manga reader manga may not understand. However, volume one includes an extensive glossary of definitions, including the names for the specific spirits and terms for Japanese inn customs and terms of address. 

I would say that the teen rating for this book is appropriate, there isn’t any nudity, cursing, or anything that would bring up red flags to the reader. This manga series would do well in a library with a large collection of manga, due to some of the untranslated words within the manga. It would also do well in collections where fantasy manga is popular.

This is a new series, but with an anime tie-in, so readers who pick this up will definitely enjoy knowing that they can watch as well as read. I’m personally excited to have this series as part of my collection, as I thoroughly enjoyed the anime.

Kakuriyo Bed & Breakfast for Spirits
By Waco Ioka
vol 1 ISBN: 9781974703722
vol 2 ISBN: 9781974703739
Publisher Age Rating: 13+

  • Nathalie

    Past Reviewer

    Nathalie DeFelice is currently an MLIS student at the University of North Texas, as well as a full time Information Assistant at the Springdale Public Library in Springdale, Arkansas. When she's not filling her brain with library knowledge, she can often be found browsing Hulu, Netflix, Crunchyroll, and Funimation for new anime to watch. She can also be found lurking in the manga sections of bookstores around town. She also loves travelling, Wonder Woman, and has a special fondness for Ikea.

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