Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs
Episodes 1-2

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs ?

This could be the first season in quite a while with some serious competition for the strongest (male-targeted) fanservice title, between How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord and this show. But based on their first couple episodes, I have to give the clear edge to Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs.

Of course, the playing field isn't exactly equal. Demon Lord is an isekai title that's throwing in generous doses of fan service as a complement to the bigger story, while this series shows every sign of being a purer classic harem romcom romp. Without troublesome worldbuilding to get in the way, this show has many more opportunities to get sexy, and it doesn't hesitate to take advantage of them. The ghostly Yuuna shares a bedroom with protagonist Kogarashi (she's bound to the room as a ghost, and it's the only room he can afford), creating a situation primed for all kinds of accidental compromising positions, and Kogarashi has already showed the customary talent for accidental groping during falls. The presence of hot springs on-site provide regular opportunities for nudity, and Yuuna's discovery near the end of episode 2 that she can willfully trigger her poltergeist power by flashing her panties to Kogarashi is doubtlessly going to come into play going forward too. Yuuna is far from the only busty girl in the cast, and one character's shape-shifting ability is sure to offer additional opportunities for naked escapades. It's actually impressive how well the series has set itself up to smoothly incorporate frequent fanservice.

So with its fanservice cred being so solid, the real question is whether the series offers any appeal beyond that. Based more on episode 1 than episode 2, I think it does. Yuuna is a likable ditz, and the relationship she's starting to form with exorcist Kogarashi is already starting to show promise. Their nighttime conversation in episode 1 lays the groundwork, and Kogarashi's dedication to finding a peaceful way to send her to Heaven before corruption drags her down to Hell (which can be a problem for spirits who linger too long in the mortal realm) is both admirable and emotionally endearing. There also has to be a story behind how she ended up as a ghost in the first place; rumor has it that a girl once drowned in one of the hot springs, but I suspect there's more to it than just an accident. I also liked the notion that people without strong spiritual power don't see her real nature; it shows that at least more thought than necessary was put into this show's supernatural concepts.

Episode 2 also delivers a series of big reveals about the other denizens of Yuragi Inn. The one who constantly takes Kogarashi to task for perceived immorality is actually a demon-slaying ninja, the busty drunkard is actually a descendant of the legendary oni Shuten-doji (and thus fantastically strong), and the girl who likes to cuddle in warm places is actually possessed by the spirit of a cat god, which means that she can transform into a cat and also summon the deity out to “play” with opponents. Finally, the diminutive manager is actually a luck-manipulating house deity. In other words, they aren't to be trifled with and are perhaps inherently sympathetic to Yuuna's situation. Whether or not they'll get interested enough in Kogarashi to turn this into a true harem scenario remains to be seen.

Overall, Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs isn't doing anything fresh or innovative, as the personalities and situations involved are largely stock fare, and the technical merits don't stand out much, either. However, the story does have some effective humor and a certain degree of charm to complement all its fanservice. For now, that's enough.

Rating: B-

Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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