Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits Volumes 4 and 5 by Waco Ioka, Midori Yuma and Laruha
I feel like now Kakuriyo has settled into a reliable rhythm for the reader, with each volume blending elements of food preparation and consumption and showcasing supernatural entities with some hints at the ongoing mystery surrounding Aoi’s grandfather and his relationship with the spirit world.
One of the reasons why I enjoy this manga is because it blends in very mundane concerns with a supernatural setting. This was particularly on display in volume 4 when Aoi needs to take into consideration vital aspects of business administration in her attempt to launch a cafe in a slightly inconvenient corner of the Tenjin-ya Inn. Aoi treats everyone who has been helping her get the cafe ready for opening to rice balls with individualized flavors that appeal to their unique personalities. When Aoi ventures out with Odanna to the local markets and gets a clue about a mask she remembers an ayakashi wearing who helped her a long time ago. Aoi is still running into resistance from other members of the Tenjin-ya staff, but she finds some ways of winning over new customers by creating special bento boxes for a sequestered writer. I do still sometimes wish the art for Kakuriyo was a little more elaborately detailed or creative, but I’m happy to see some unsettling ayakashi character designs such as a three-eyed woman with a snarky three-eyed baby, or the no-face handmaidens who always show up to give Aoi a makeover.
The fifth volume opens with Aoi sharing a quiet moment with Odanna, as she follows him out to his mountain retreat and learns about a new delicacy – fire chicken eggs cooked in a hot spring. Aoi also gets a new clue about the white-masked ayakashi from her past and an impactful endorsement from the badger demon novelist. Business starts to look up a little bit after Aoi also gets a visit from a fortune spirit who loves red bean paste desserts. I found myself really enjoying the way this manga is paced, with Aoi slowly finding out more about the strange world she’s been transported to, and her low key ways of getting to know ayakashi through preparing simple dishes with their unique needs in mind. Five volumes into the series, it is much more satisfying as a food manga, with the food preparation showcased in at least a page or two instead of being skipped over.