What’s the manga? Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs, Volume One.
“Hot Springs” huh? At what point do you just admit that this entire blog is just reviews of harems and cute girls shows? I know you’re being intentionally standoffish but when it comes to manga they cost a lot more than anime so I have to be pretty selective about the ones I buy and so a safe bet for me is my favourite genres, maybe when I get a job I’ll be able to expand my manga horizons but until then it’s all harem and cute girls!
Eh, fair enough I suppose. So what’s this one about? It’s about Kogarashi, a homeless high-school boy and casual ghost-hunter. After rescuing an old couple from a prankster ghost, they let him know of a deal that’s too good to be true, a room at a hot springs for rent only 1000 yen (~$10US) a month! The only catch, it may or may not be haunted.
Of course it is. And the ghost in question? The titular Yuuna (pun intended) is a ghost who’s stuck haunting the hot springs after her death, she’s a happy but clumsy and easily flustered girl who gets Kogarashi into all sorts of awkward predicaments. And speaking of awkward predicaments Kogarashi finds himself torn between his ghost-busting duties—and the reward of free food and rent for life for ‘exorcising’ her—and his growing friendship and attraction to the ghostly girl.
You’ve mentioned the protagonist is a ‘ghost hunter’ or ‘ghost buster’, how does he perform these duties? Well he punches ghosts.
He… punches ghosts? Yes, it’s his chosen method of exorcism, he can punch even the most powerful of undead spirits and down them in one hit. Which is also another reason why he doesn’t immediately exorcise Yuuna on their first meeting, because he doesn’t want to hit a girl.
Some ghost hunter he is if 50% of his exorcism targets he doesn’t even deal with. Well I guess he’s a gentleman, but yeah, probably explains a part of the reason he’s been homeless if he refuses half his exorcism jobs.
So what’s the manga’s plot? The central plot is Yuuna’s “unfinished business” which is the reason her ghost is tethered to this world, she wants to be able to “move on” but can’t until they find out what exactly is the thing keeping her from moving on but that’s going to prove difficult as she doesn’t remember anything from being alive.
I’m guessing you have some ideas though? Well, it’s either going to be that she’s never had a boyfriend or that she’s never had sex. I’m still not sure which though, I guess it depends how ~lewd~ this manga wants to get with the idea.
Uh-huh, speaking of “lewd”, this is a harem manga correct? I can’t help but realise you’ve only mentioned one girl so far though. It’s a harem, in that the other inhabitants of the hot springs inn are all attractive girls/women and there’s the usual kinds of harem shenanigans such as accidentally walking in on the girls in various states of undress, etc. But right now, none of the girls show any interest in Kogarashi. In fact some of them barely tolerate his presence.
And why is that? Because of a particularly embarassing situation early on they’ve all branded him a pervert.
Right… and is he? As far as harem protagonists go, not only is he considerably respectful of women and not much of a pervert at all but he’s actually ~interesting~ which is especially rare—at least for harem protagonists, he’s got back-story and personality and a sense of humour.
And what about the other girls, you kinda glossed over them? Well it’s only because they get hardly any page-time (is that the book equivilent of screen-time?) in this first volume. You get a vague idea about their personality types not to mention their ‘special abilites’ but the majority of the time is spent with Yuuna and Kogarashi.
Wait, what’s these ‘special abilities’ you’re speaking of? You can’t just drop something like that and move on so quickly! Well there’s Chitose the inn’s caretaker who has the power to change people’s fortunes (it’s complicated). Super serious Sagiri, a ninja (tsun). Yaya, a cute and shy girl who’s the earthly vessel of a cat god (meaning cat ears and a tail, of course). And Nonoka, a boisterous alcoholic mangaka who’s also an oni (ogre) and whose oni powers get more powerful the more she drinks.
I see… any other characters I should know about? Well he attends high school, and due to Yuuna’s ghostly interferences ends up making a bad impression on the first day, except with Chisaki, a popular girl who’s having troubles with her soft toy collection being haunted. They form an unlikely friendship which will no doubt progress to some ~stronger~ feelings in future volumes.
So you’ve talked a lot about the manga’s plot and characters but I haven’t really gotten a sense of what you think of the manga? It’s very good, seldom do I find myself immediately attaching to a harem manga like I did here, it’s usually a couple of volumes before I’m really invested in the characters, but Yuuna—as clumsy as she is, has an endearing spirit (no pun intended) and while her amnesia kind of robs her of any tangiable back-story she never lets that get in the way with her interactions with other people. I think the fact we spend so much time with Yuuna and because Yuuna and Kogarashi share a room together means we get a lot more exposure to her (again, no pun intended) than you’d get in a similar manga that would maybe spread the pages of the first volume between a lot of supporting characters early on.
They share a room together? That’s very forward thinking… Well the reason Kogarashi’s room is so cheap is because it’s perpetually haunted by Yuuna and despite being a ghost she still needs a place to sleep. Them being so close in proximity allows them to get close to each other in more ways than one.
‘Shenanigans?’ You know it!
So final score and recommendation for Yunna and the Haunted Hot Springs, Volume 1? While this manga is unlikely to change people’s opinions on the harem and ecchi genre I honestly think series shows great promise, at least with regards to its characterisation. It’s fun and light-hearted at times but there’s the overarching mystery of Yuuna’s death and her ‘unfinished business’ as well as Kogarashi’s back-story and his ghost-punching abilitis add much needed variety to the formula. The art is crisply drawn and detailed and the character designs are distinctive enough. Things are getting steamy in this hot springs; 85 out of 100.
Oh and isn’t it going to be adapted into an anime soon too? Yes! July 2018 there’s going to be a Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs anime, I think it’ll make a great series and I’m looking forward to it!
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