Get comfortable everyone, because I have a lot to say about this finale.
First thing first: UMI-BOUZU IS A PRECIOUS CHILD WHO NEEDS TO BE PROTECTED FROM THE EVIL WORLD DAMN IT! Oh my god, I died when we saw him. Comedy?! What comedy?! NO, LET US DROWN IN THE SEA OF EMOTIONS!!!!!
Umi-Bouzu is actually a tiny little one who is suffering from loneliness. He was so happy when Chibi came waltzing in to keep him company, that he broke down into tears. As it turns out, he and Aoi share a lot in common. Both of them suffer from loneliness and hunger, so when Aoi realized this, she decided to do things her way, spoil Umi-Bouzu with everything he wants, and eat alongside him. Screw whoever came up with that horrible things of how misfortune would befall the one who sets eyes upon him! He means no harm! I am so glad everyone came to sit with him, the crane twins, Ginji and Ranmaru (oh my god, it was so cute how he snuggled with their fluffy tails, I died from the cuteness overload!) The saddest part about Umi-Bouzu is how he is imprisoned in that he is only able to get out of that confined space once every hundred years. So the ceremony and the treatment is like a dream to him, especially this one since for the first time, he wasn’t alone. I just wanted to freaking hug him and protect him, and Aoi wanted to do the same. She even offered him to stay by her side– excuse me, I need a moment damnit. And then, you know what he said, ‘see you in a hundred years’. That’s pretty much when I was like NOPE NOPE NOPE. DOn’T DO THIS TO ME. AOI MIGHT NOT BE THERE IN 100 YEARS. OH GOD, I don’t even want to imagine the heartbreak Umi-Bouzu would have to go through about that. It’s too cruel!
So it is an understatement to say finale was absolute emotional rollercoaster. But as we got closer to the end, they basically left us with a major cliffhanger that is going to drive us bonkers! You can’t possibly not have a second season after ending with THAT kind of bombshell reveal! Oh goodness, I really hope we will hear an announcement for a sequel sooner than later. I don’t care if we have to wait until Volume 10 is published (sometime in 2019, Volume 9 comes out October 15th 2018), just please, announce that it’s gonna happen. I mean, they didn’t make an “Anime End” edition, so surely there is hope, right? RIGHT?!
Actuallllyyyy~ maybe it’s just me being delusional, (spare me please, I’m already having withdrawals) but after looking at the final shot, more carefully, I wonder if the autumn leaves in the background of the final shot, is an easter egg of a sorts to imply there is hope for a second season. The main reason why I think this, is not because the season we’re in is now fall, but this is actually something that is featured on the 6th Volume Cover. All we can do is hope it will happen!
Okay feels aside, there is a lot of talk about, both good and bad, so let’s start off with the more frustrating stuff, to get that out of the way, starting with Aoi confronting Ginji about the Mystery Akayashi.
It was just as many of us feared, the case of the Mystery Ayakashi wasn’t exactly cleanly resolved. Rather, instead of getting a proper answer, we get an incomplete one. What I mean by that, is how Ginji merely confirmed he was not working alone, nor was he the one responsible for finding her, but refuses to confirm Aoi’s suspicions that the other “half” of the Mystery Ayakashi was Oodanna. His reason? He says he is not in the position to tell her that.
But along with the truth, came an even bigger reveal that leads us to yet another mystery: They did not just save Aoi was not just save from starvation, but from her original fate.
This really changes things up, because this means Aoi was likely supposed to die alone from starvation, and it was Oodanna who found her and took action to prevent that from happening. In order to save her, certain conditions needed to be fulfilled, and for that Oodanna needed time. So he assigned Ginji to watch over her, make sure she is fed and is kept alive until he finishes preparing the food that would change her destiny. This is why Aoi remembers Ginji more vividly, because he was the one who was feeding her until Oodanna finished the preparations. This also explains why it took so long for her to be rescued by the Humans, because it was only after she ate her final dish (the one Oodanna had made), she was finally taken to the orphanage, where there she was eventually picked up by her Grandfather, Shiro.
See? Now we have more questions than answers. But given the circumstances of this incident, this is starting to make me strengthens my belief that their promise of marriage was established before Shiro fell into debt. Again, this would explain why Oodanna didn’t hesitate to accept Aoi as the collateral, especially if he knew it was going to be her. It makes me think back to my theory of Aoi and Oodanna knowing each other in her past lives, but perhaps her destiny has always been one of misfortune and would result an early or horrible death. This could potentially explain why Oodanna went so far as to do such a thing. But at the same time, this also brings us back to the question that has been on all of our minds: How did he find her? Unfortunately it is something that is left unanswered, and we will have to wait and hear from the man himself.
This is what makes this finale’s cliffhanger (so to speak) so agonizing for fans who cannot read Japanese. Many of us can’t just pick up the book and read it for ourselves. (Note: Although the manga that has been localized (coming out Jan 2019), currently there are only five volumes (the 5th one came out earlier this month) and only covers up to Episode 6 – 8, so it’s going to be a while before it gets to the Orio-ya Arc!). Sure, I know there are already spoilers circulating around the internet for sanity’s sake, and in due time, there will be fan translations to read, but nonetheless, this is still a crazy way to even end things when the Mystery Ayakashi has been the main plotline from the very beginning. In the end, this mystery was only partially resolved, leading into yet another mystery that revolves around the dramatic circumstances of changing fate. And considering how Oodanna’s character has been absent for pretty much the entire series, I am willing to bet this is how the story gradually begins its transition into Oodanna’s arc.
And I am sure I wasn’t the only one who felt a bit frustrated with how Aoi didn’t straight up ask Oodanna for confirmation if he was the Mystery Ayakashi’s other half. But then again, perhaps she knew better that Oodanna wouldn’t answer. And if that’s the case, then I understand why she didn’t confront him about it. After-all, throughout the entire season, Oodanna has always been playing coy when it comes to discussing matters about himself, and seems to have no intentions of revealing his role in her rescue. So for the time being, Aoi has resigned to quietly acknowledging that it was him. (In fact, in this edition of the flashback of when he took her hand (and scratched her), they showed his nail this time! So it’s proof that Aoi now knows it’s him.) Still, when he patted her head, it made my heart soar and it was cute with how Aoi said she may need to repay his kindness, and he played as the fool. I really loved the softness in his eyes, perhaps a sign that he recognized that Aoi finally figured it out.
Another thing that irked me, was that they didn’t explain how Aoi got her taste back. Did the curry powder Oodanna had given her do something to break the curse? I highly doubt the curse would just fade away, I doubt Raiju would be that careless, but I also have my doubts that Oodanna expected her eat the food she used for the powder. It’s not like he actually anticipated that she would be able to relate to Umi-Bouzu’s loneliness, unless he actually did. If that’s the case, then damn, this guy is something else. Regardless, this is something I suspect was covered better in the books, as it has been reported of many (crucial) details being cut from the anime, which is really such a shame. Just give us the whole thing!
And this leads me back to the point of Oodanna’s noticeable absence in the finale. Needless to say, it is incredibly unfortunate how he only had two short appearances in the entire episode. The first one was his confrontation with Raiju, which was a chilling scene to say the least. I got the shivers with how eerily Oodanna delivered his warning that if Raiju were to eat Aoi, he will brutally devour both his body and soul himself. It’s a side of Oodanna we haven’t gotten the chance to see, and seeing how intimated Raiju was, it just goes to show that he is actually a lot stronger and fearsome than he actually appears. While he certainly has a gentle heart, mess with the ones he loves, and he will end you. The second one, was with Aoi, and all we got was a head pat.
On the flip-side of thing, Ginji x Aoi fans were certainly given a treat in this finale, they got a hug, special moment, and even their own version of that wonky animation style (WHYYYY ARE THEY DOING THAT?! The episode was gorgeous until that unnecessary change! Stop changing the art-style damnit! Just please pick one!) I will confess though, I am quite salty about Oodanna not getting a proper hug of his own. That’s all I really wanted (more so than the forehead kiss, haha!)
Maybe next season.
Speaking of Ginji— I know, I have been neglecting to talk about this guy.
I’m sorry, Oodanna is my biaswrecker. I definitely felt like some of his unspoken and unaware feelings seeped out a bit when he rescued Aoi from the accidental severe wave Umi-Bouzu caused when he returned to sea. I also found it quite interesting how Ginji didn’t look too happy to tell her about the background of the Mystery Akayashi. I think it might have to do with how he describes himself, as a helpless Ayakashi who can only be by her side. I definitely get the feeling Ginji wished he was the one who found her and rescued her, and has subconsciously grown envious of Oodanna. Aoi of course doesn’t believe he is powerless, because just being there with her gave her hope to survive. Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how Ginji’s feelings will evolve now. Up until this point, there hasn’t been a love triangle, but I am starting to wonder if now there is even a chance of that happening. It is hard to say how it will play out, especially when Aoi is starting to fall for Oodanna, and perhaps she has fallen for him even more, now that she knows he played a crucial part in her rescue. Either way, Ginji is at a major disadvantage right now since he is only gradually becoming aware of his own feelings at a really bad time.
And that’s right, Ginji has returned to Tenjin-ya alongside Aoi and Oodanna. It was actually Ranmaru who encouraged him to do so, having finally come to terms that even though they aren’t together, Ginji still cares for him deeply. I am glad the two of them are on good terms again. It also helps that perhaps the ceremony will be less stressful to prepare now that they have gotten the chance to communicate and understand Umi-Bouzu’s desires and why the ceremony is necessary.
Lastly, in the final shot, it is quite apparent now that flower on Aoi’s pin has officially started to bloom. I think it is important to note two things: while the outer-layers of the petals have opened up, the one the inner petals are still closed. And two, once it fully blooms, it will fall off. So time is certainly ticking for Aoi, but with her finally falling in love with Oodanna, it is a curious thing to see whether or not the flower is actually something that responds to her feelings (though that probably won’t work considering she didn’t have it on her the majority of the time she was at Orio-ya) or what will become of debt in due time. Actually, I wonder how far along Aoi is at this point?
Final Thoughts: (Are you guys still with me? I told you it was going to be a long one! Haha!)
Let me just start off by saying I am so freaking glad I had the opportunity to cover this show. It has been such a long time coming since I have been so passionately invested in an anime, heck any title for that matter. This is the first time in years that I have been so excited about a series that made go, “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!!” I went crazy, I bought everything I could possibly afford, the books, the manga, the first BD disc, the characters CDs (hopefully the first CD has finally arrived today, the second one has been pre-ordered) an cat-Oodanna keychain because I missed the pre-orders and wasn’t thinking about the merchandise at the time. I also couldn’t shut up about it, so I must apologize to my fellow teammates for my flurry of emotions every Monday, and how I pretty much rewatched the entire series from episode 1 all over again almost every week. Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi was that show that gave me so much joy and excitement, I found myself hoping it would be Monday sooner. I am also so relieved this show even got twenty-six episodes to work with, because good lord, thirteen episodes wouldn’t have done this show justice.
So what was it about the series that made me so invested in it? Well, there were a number of things, it was a fantasy romance done right. Was it perfect, absolutely not, but we got ayakashi, a badass heroine, intriguing characters, charming male leads, oh and it was exactly what I have been dreaming of watching for years. What I mean by that, is one the slow-burn romance, because I love that stuff, no love triangles (at least not yet), no stupid petty misunderstandings, mature characters that aren’t in high school for an exchange, characters who can communicate, a heroine who has a spine and most importantly, just great guys in general. I am so done with with boys who act like a dick to the girl they like, or lash out or be stupid because of failed communications and jealousies. So naturally it was refreshing to have mature and sensible characters like Aoi and Oodanna, and even though it has been a slow progress, both of them have come a long way. Oodanna being so good to Aoi without asking anything in return, and Aoi gradually coming around to learning about her own feelings through his small efforts, made me appreciate and develop even more patience for their slow but beautiful love story that is looking to blossom between them. What’s crazy was, their conversations, interactions and Oodanna’s support was so lovely, that it didn’t matter to me if we were never going to see them kiss. I didn’t care, I was satisfied with just that, which says a lot.(The kiss on the forehead was a surprising treat itself!) Of course eventually I started to feel disappointed once I learned the anime has severely watered down many of their special scenes and interactions, but it still doesn’t take away from the fact of how much I love this adaption. I am grateful that it even happened since it was what introduced me to this series in the first place.
And can we really, just really take a moment to appreciate Oodanna’s character one more time? Although Oodanna didn’t get to appear much throughout the series, he made sure every time he did, it was a memorable experience. His character is so damn likeable, you just want to see him more! Better yet, he completely defied the image of the ruthless and cruel ogres, by showing he can be a loyal, supportive and loving lover. One of the things I absolutely love about his character, is how he not only tries to give Aoi as much freedom as he possible, but he also holds Aoi at a high regards, treating her as an equal, and empowering her in any way he can. Even though she opened up Moonflower as a means to pay off the debt to escape the arranged marriage, Oodanna still supported her efforts, by giving her business advice and word of encouragements. He also never hesitated to support her when she decided to get involved with the ceremony. Heck, even when he was jealous, he kept it to himself, and never made a fuss about it. How often do you see that?! And even when things went south for Aoi, Oodanna continued to show he had absolute faith in her ability to make things work. But I think the highlight of their relationship in this show was how they never had a petty misunderstanding between them. In fact when they aren’t playing coy with each other, the two of them are actually very good at communicating with each other.
This is precisely why it made me sad how early on, a lot of people were quick to disregarded Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi under the assumptions it was a ‘reverse-harm’, the heroine is some miracle worker or is was just going to be another one of those ‘cliche’ romance in the spirit world. Although it wasn’t perfect, the heart of what made Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi so enjoyable were the characters. All of the characters (except for Raiju, he’s a scum through and through) are not perfect, they all have their flaws, and that’s what really defines them and their growth. Aoi for instance, has some serious flaws of her own, she is reckless, nosy, and experiences tunnel-vision when she really focused on something. She doesn’t necessarily think before she acts, and forgets to heed warnings of danger that shouldn’t be forgotten.
Many of the characters have come a long way from where they have began, noticeably starting with the staff of Tenjin-ya. As we stepped into the Orio-ya arc, it became quite apparent how the difference of dynamics and relationships between the staff of the two inns. For instance, it is very apparent how the Orio-ya staff are very close to one another. This is probably because they understand the importance of their responsibilities they have of running the place, especially at the time of the ceremony. The Southern Lands is a poor region, so it’s understandable why many of them are closely knit to one another. This is how I came to realize, in the beginning, Tenjin-ya’s staff weren’t exactly… close to say the least, or at least were never presented as such. While everyone was a hard worker, most of them really looked out for themselves, which was exactly as we saw with how O-Ryo was dumped onto Aoi because nobody was wiling to take care of her. They were very much spread thin, but all of that changed when Aoi came into the picture. She became the thread that tied everyone together, and made Tenjin-ya come together in a way they haven’t before. We saw the fruition of that with everyone taking care of Moonflower while she was gone, of becoming the family she never had.
And the theme of Aoi discovering the family and friends she never had is one of the most charming things about this show. It was endearing how the characters, such as Akatsuki and Hatori became the big brothers she never had, always looking out of her, wanting to make sure she is safe and sound. I loved how she could have normal friendship with the boys, without them turning into love interests. The only exception is probably Ginji, who has no idea he actually likes her due to his inexperience with love.
So yeah, I absolutely love this series, I am a passionate fan to say the least. Although there will surely be novel spoilers all around the web, I have decided I will leave myself in the dark about it to fuel my motivation and dedications to my Japanese studies. It will be like working to uncover a hidden code that’s right in front of me (I have all the books except for Volume 8 because that’s out of stock, Volume 9 is preordered)! Obviously it will be a while, before I can read it, but hey if we’re lucky, a second season will be out before then!
And so I will wrap things up with this: I have always considered Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi as one of the hidden gems of the Spring 2018 Season. It is a show with delicious food, emotional and heartwarming stories, and endearing characters. It took me a while to become accustomed to it, but this is not a show where the worst case scenarios happens, which is nice change of pace to say the least. However it is important to note one shouldn’t take this adaption as face value of the series. Many fans strongly recommend to read the books over the anime, which is understandable with how much they either left out or watered down altogether. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it. Of course while I have been an avid supporter of this series, constantly trying to publicize and encourage people to give it a chance, now that it’s over, I feel obliged to give the word of caution: you may be unsatisfied with the ending. And it’s natural of course, given that there’s so many loose ends. See if there were to be a second season to be released in the future, then yes, but since the show ended with more questions than answers, I understand this is something that may frustrate the hell out of the viewers, and make them feel as though they wasted their time.
Final Score: 8/10
You are probably surprised by how I scored this. But as much as I love this show, even I know it is far from perfect. Loose ends (aka unfinished business) and an overall weak animation presentation are some of its most glaring flaws, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t special. So if you can deal with that, then I absolutely encourage you to give it a shot! (And hopefully we will get an Season 2 in due time!)