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In general, I’m naturally fascinated by show that explore folklore, because I tend to see it as a gateway into the thoughts of older generations. Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi is kind of an odd case, though. I never felt particularly impressed by the series while I was watching it (until the very end). If you look at the posts I wrote while the show was airing, there was a common theme that I didn’t think the show was “right” for me, and I stick with that evaluation. I think I was always going to compare this show to Konohana Kitan, a similar show that I greatly enjoyed.
The main character, Aoi Tsubaki, is a student with the ability to see ayakashi. After her grandfather dies, an oni appears before her and tells her that she is to be his wife in compensation for a debt incurred by her late grandfather. Aoi naturally refuses, stating instead that she will create a restaurant to pay off the debt. Right off the bat, I think that this is a bit of a strange premise, and it ultimately serves as a bad running joke to justify the plot in my eyes.
Part of what I think the series does well is treating the various ayakashi as “effectively human”, each having their own set of concerns and goals. It’s as if the series is approaching it with the idea that “we’re all the same”, which isn’t necessarily a bad approach. It makes the heartwarming moments work well, and I think the show feels a bit more grounded as a result.
The reason I say that this doesn’t appeal specifically for me is that I typically enjoy seeing how shows “interpret” older folk tales. This puts the focus on the stories themselves, and I think it explores what the people who created the stories might have been thinking at the time. Instead, Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi is almost more like a show about a typical “human” setting, and the characters just happen to be ayakashi.
This series also has a weird problem at the halfway point. In the main story of the series, Aoi’s husband-to-be runs a spirit world inn, and Aoi typically befriends the various characters with her cooking ability. However, there’s a point in the story where it almost resets itself, putting Aoi in a new inn with a completely different set of characters to befriend in practically the same way. It’s a jarring shift that I still think is awkwardly placed. As a result, I think the series ends up with more characters than it can reasonably keep track of, as well.
Along with that, there’s always this weird sense that Aoi’s only special because she can reasonably make human food. In a world where everyone can use magic, it seems like being somewhat ordinary gives her a suitable power of her own. That being said, I thought that the series was generally pretty solid. As I mentioned before, it has strong character focus that is handled well. It also happens to have some of my favorite music in its airing seasons, which was surprising for me.