Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs Episode 4
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs ?
Last week, the series expanded its options by adding the school setting to its repertoire. This episode takes things a step further by expanding on the lives of the Yuragi Inn's other denizens. First up is the “demon-slaying ninja” Sagiri, while the second half of the episode shifts its focus to Cat God host Yaya, attempting to show that the series can get along without relying on Yuuna herself.
Of the two halves, the first is the better one. It introduces the Chuuma Ninja Army that Sagiri works for, which is a secret organization of ninjas who go around dealing with supernatural occurrences. Surprisingly, Saigiri also attends Kogarashi's school in the same grade; I thought she was a little older than him at first. Her reputation as an unapproachable beauty certainly fits her persona, as does her lack of experience with boys. This being a harem fanservice show, of course she's forced into a situation where she has to pretend to be on a date with Kogarashi in order to lure out a yokai interested in pheromone-soaked clothes, at which point it releases its clothing-dissolving attack. Really, this series couldn't more precisely duplicate the beats of 2000s-era harem series if it tried. (Or perhaps it is trying?) I'm not necessarily saying that as a criticism, since there is a certain enjoyable nostalgia to the end result.
The second part of the episode features Yaya, but not as directly. It does not clarify whether or not she also attends school (or what grade she might be if she does), as we have yet to see her in anything other than casual clothes. We do learn that she's rather shy about asking for things, which leads to her following Kogarashi around in order to get him to cook her favorite food. This part offers little insight beyond that the Cat God looks out for her; it actually reveals more about the other characters. In the episode's best series of jokes, we get to see that Kogarashi is not only the only competent cook beyond the manager, but he's also a culinary master due to having once been possessed and rigorously trained by the ghost of a chef attempting to achieve his masterpiece. I would have been more surprised if he hadn't been able to cook, seeing as this juxtaposition has become a harem anime standard over the past decade or so, but this comedic twist gives the show a unique angle. As with Sagiri's story, this also provides a reason for Yaya to start cozying up to Kogarashi.
So the show's harem trajectory is now more firmly established, but does the series still work with Yuuna shuffled to the background? So far the relationships Kogarashi has with the other Yuragi Inn girls just aren't as interesting or satisfying, even as lighthearted harem shenanigans. The episode also utterly ignores Chisaki, who seems like the #2 girl to my mind. Still, things are going passably well enough that I'm willing to give these threads time to develop.
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