Note: Review copy supplied by MVM Entertainment
Title: Yuuna And The Haunted Hot Springs
Anime Studio: Xebec
Genre: Supernatural / Harem Comedy
Once a hot springs inn, now a boarding house with extraordinarily cheap rent, Yuragi-sou is virtually uninhabited save for a few peculiar residents. As rumour has it, it is haunted by a vile ghost which scares away all potential tenants. Therefore, it is the perfect refuge for Fuyuzora Kogarashi—a broke, homeless psychic seeking an affordable roof to stay under and ghosts to exorcise.
Kogarashi prepares for a face-off against the ghost, only to find out it is not as malicious as the rumours made it out to be. Instead, it is the ghost of a beautiful, silver-haired girl whose only recollection of her life before death is her name: Yuuna. Even more baffling is that the other tenants of Yuragi-sou not only are able to see Yuuna as well, but each has their own supernatural ability. Amidst the chaos caused by his quirky fellow residents, Kogarashi attempts to uncover the regret that keeps Yuuna anchored to the world of the living, lest she become an evil spirit sentenced to spend her afterlife in hell.
At its core, Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs has plenty of positives. For one, Kogarashi is a really good male lead. Rather than the bland, average guy that harem shows normally present, he feels a lot more rounded. He’s kind-hearted like you’d expect, sure, but it feels like there’s more to him than that. In a way, his supernatural abilities made him feel more like a shonen action hero at times, and he even had a couple of odd moments that put me in mind of Kenji Kazama in D-Frag!
The rest of the core cast lean a little more into specific character types but aren’t entirely one-dimensional either. Each of the various girls has a suitably different design to be easily recognisable, and they aren’t without character development either. Sagiri and Chisaki, for example, grow in terms of how they approach Kogarashi and the world around them. Others, such as Chitose, reveal little snippets of their lives during their own episodes without really changing. In that regard, much as Kogarashi isn’t a blank canvas for viewers to project themselves onto, the harem also has enough heart to be interesting.
At times, the humour is also really fun. Kogarashi has a habit of being able to rise to many an occasion with hitherto unknown skills, which are explained away as him being possessed by someone with said skills in a time before the series. It’s a joke that isn’t overused, making it work well whenever it pops up.
The whole set up of the show is interesting too and lends itself to quirky supernatural elements. At the same time, it knows how to pull it back too, throwing in some more serious moments, such as when Kogarashi and Yuuna attempt to reunite two deceased lovers. The voice cast is fine in their roles, with Yui Ogura, in particular, standing out for me as the catgirl, Yaya. Meanwhile, the animation isn’t going to blow anyone away, but it certainly isn’t bad either.
For all these positives though, the series was an unfortunately frustrating watch for me. A lot of this has to do with how the fan service was presented. Honestly, the sheer amount of nipple shots was ridiculous. Worse still, it never felt natural. There are shows that have plenty of fan service moments without it being obtrusive. Black Lagoon is a good example. Here though, it felt tacked on, almost like it the studio felt it was expected and so decided to go all-in on it.
Then there was the unwelcome trope of groping without consent, both intentional and unintentional. Not to mention Ryuuga seemingly assaults every woman he takes a fancy to. Were scenes like this a one-off in a single episode, maybe two, it would be an eye roll thing. Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs goes out of its way to present this every chance it gets though, and it does little more than temporarily derail the episodes under the pretence of it apparently being funny.
This all leaves a bit of a strange mixed reaction from me. If asked to sum the series up, I feel like it would be accurate to say, “Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs is a harem comedy with a generally interesting cast, a likeable lead, and plenty of supernatural shenanigans.” At the same time, it would be equally accurate to say, “Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs is the story of a boy with a history of being possessed who gathers a harem of nipples.”
If you like ecchi themes in your anime, you’ll likely look past – or maybe even enjoy – the things I found problematic. For me, they took away from the parts I enjoyed though. In the end, I found it to be equal parts enjoyable and frustrating. So, I’ll give this a balanced 3 out of 5.