Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs
Kogarashi has it rough – all his life he's been able to see ghosts, yokai, and other spirits, with the result that he's been tormented by the supernatural to the point where he's homeless and in debt. Fortunately for him, he's learned to punch away his problems with a very special style of exorcism, and that's gotten him a job at a haunted hot spring inn turned boarding house. All Kogarashi has to do to get free rent for life is exorcise the ghost there…who turns out to be a hot high school girl named Yuuna. Unable to bring himself to punch her into the next life, Kogarashi instead offers to help her resolve her business on Earth.
Protagonist Kogarashi finds himself living in an old boarding house that used to be a hot springs inn with four beautiful women who have a tendency to smack him into orbit for anything they perceive as a perverted action. That he's rarely, if ever, actually at fault harkens back to the days when Ken Akamatsu ruled the shounen rom-com world, and that's likely to be a deciding factor as to whether or not you want to pick up this otherwise quite fun story, because if it annoyed you in Love Hina, it'll probably annoy you here.
If you don't mind random violence against the hapless hero, however, there's a fair amount to enjoy here. Kogarashi is a down-on-his-luck sixteen-year-old who has been plagued by his ability to see and interact with the supernatural all his life – he got possessed by anatomical models in elementary school, forced into weird sports training regimens by random ghosts, and has managed to end up in debt because no one else could see what was actually breaking things and he got blamed. Eventually he ended up on the streets, learned from a master how to literally punch ghosts into the afterlife, and tried to get by with odd exorcism jobs. That's why the job at the old hot springs inn sounds like such a godsend – cheap rent, food included, and, if he successfully banishes the ghost of a teenage girl who was murdered back when it was still an inn, he can live there for free forever. Kogarashi accepts before he realizes that this means having to punch a girl in the face.
Now gender really shouldn't be a factor in whether or not to smack someone, and as it turns out, it really isn't – the main issue is that Yuuna, the ghost, is a really nice person. She's not sure why she's still stuck as a ghost an undisclosed number of years after her death (her slang sounds like maybe she's from the 1980s), but she's actually pretty happy living with the other three women boarding at the old inn and the youthful female landlady. They, as it turns out, are a surprise for Kogarashi in a few ways. In terms of plot, however, they seem to exist simply to round out the cast before Kogarashi begins high school in the last quarter of the volume – all three are basic cookie-cutter harem members sporting the requisite torpedo boobs (with two exceptions, both of whom appear to have been created to be the loli ones), and none of them have much in the way of personality. One is Angry, one is Drunk!, and one is Sleepy, with Competent being filled by the landlady and Cute coming in at the end of the book. At this point they aren't looking like they'll be any competition for Yuuna in the romance department, which again makes their presence more of an irritant than anything.
At its heart, Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs is a romance. Since Kogarashi can't bring himself to hit Yuuna, his decision to help her move on by finding out what her lingering regrets or attachments are puts him in the position of acting more like her constant companion or boyfriend much of the time. He's only beginning to become aware of this by the end of the volume, but throughout it's clear that he likes Yuuna as a person. Yuuna, for her part, is just a genuinely nice, cheerful person, and she enjoys spending time with Kogarashi and seeing the world beyond the old inn with him. There's plenty of fanservice and goofy situations, yes, but underneath all of that this could develop into a very sweet love story.
Speaking of fanservice, Miura does not skimp on that front. That's hardly surprising given that this is a title in Seven Seas' new mature Ghost Ship line, so if you like your romance with plenty of breasts (with nipples) and crotches, this absolutely fits the bill. Accidental grope scenes aside, there isn't much actual sexual content, but Miura draws a nice, full-figured female body that's nice to look at. He also doesn't have all of the women wearing the same fetish underwear, which sounds like an odd thing to mention, but does give a touch of reality to the girls as characters in that we can assume that they chose their own instead of following some weird ecchi manga rule.
Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs' first volume has a nice story partially hiding under some old-school harem tropes and a lot of fanservice. While some of the harem characters don't feel necessary to the actual story, Kogarashi and Yuuna are embarking on an interesting relationship and the art is attractive. If you're in the mood for a shounen romantic comedy, this is a good bet.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B+
+ Good relationship forming between Yuuna and Kogarashi, some funny moments, attractive art
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