Kogarashi Fuzuyora isn’t your normal high schooler – he also happens to be a psychic who has spent a lot of his life chasing around and being possessed by a variety of ghosts and demons, before exorcising them with a single punch of his tempered fists. After hearing about a former hot springs inn that closed and was converted into apartments as paranormal activity chased all of its customers away, Kogarashi decides to move in so he can exorcise it. However, his plan goes astray when he finds the ghost’s rear-end sticking out of his room’s wall, revealing it to be a high school girl named Yuuna who died at the inn many years ago. Being unable to punch a woman, Kogarashi instead decides to find and resolve Yuuna’s lingering regret so she can ascend peacefully to heaven.
It’s easy to pass Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs off as a typical ecchi show, as it is filled with plenty of fanservice and your usual harem hijinks, yet while I usually dismiss these types of shows, I actually came out of this one relatively enjoying it, thanks to its fun and eccentric cast of characters and the surprisingly sweet and wholesome moments that it peppers throughout in order to develop their relationships.
“Wholesome? In an ecchi anime?” I hear you cry? Yes, while it did get some complaints over the sexual content sitting in the pages of Shonen Jump, and while it does feature plenty of nudity, flailing breast physics and nonsensical boob grabs, it’s less about delivering pure titillation and is more about using its fanservice for genuine comedic effect and to punctuate the jokes around the pretty open group of girls staying at the inn suddenly having a guy thrown into their midst.
While this would normally ring alarm bells for them, Kogarashi is thankfully just a dumb but surprisingly innocent harem protagonist who genuinely wants to help out. He just has a tendency to get into compromising situations that aren’t really his fault – something that sees him hilariously flying out of his bedroom window every morning! As such, I found him to be a fairly likable character, and it’s easy to start rooting for him with whatever girl you prefer as he’s just a genuinely nice guy, with the first half of the series showing this well as he has to help each of the main girls get through a particular problem.
These episodes are not just entertaining, but are great for introducing the rest of the cast, fleshing each of them out with some nice details so it’s not just the Kogarashi and Yuuna Show. Ninja girl Sagiri’s encounter with a clothes-eating yokai might sound typical for the genre, but reveals her to be pretty powerful in her own right; Yaya, being a girl possessed by a cat god, gives us some hilarious moments when Kogarashi reveals he can do really good grilled fish; while the alcoholic oni Nonka reveals she’s actually a manga author and ropes Kogarashi into being her assistant when her usual staff fall ill. Even the innkeeper gets in on the action, in a sweet sequence that shows her taking advantage of her physical appearance as a young girl who seems around eleven or twelve years old.
Yuuna, however, is the star of the show and gets the most attention as she and Kogarashi get into a variety of weird situations that frequently result in them getting closer together. She’s very much an excitable airhead who often misunderstands things and ends up quite literally dunking it on Kogarashi, whether that’s his mornings in the river or passing out in a swimming pool, which are all pretty funny to watch.
Unfortunately, the series does lose some of its momentum in the second half, as it starts to run out of its own unique ideas and falls back on tried and tested tropes which, while it still executes them well, made me start to lose interest slightly as I’d seen it all before. In addition, I didn’t really like the pair of episodes where Yuuna is kidnapped by Ryuuga, the water dragon god, and basically forced to become his plaything as he forces her into a variety of fetishized costumes. It just becomes a little too much for me personally, even though you do get to see Kogarashi in a decent fight with Ryuuga’s subordinate Oboro.
The series is animated by Xebec and directed by Tsuyoshi Nagasawa (best known for directing the rom-com classics MM! and Nyaruko: Crawling with Love), and while it’s nothing exceptional, the animation is pretty decent for this kind of series. The visuals are often bright and colourful, while the character designs are strong and reflect each one’s personality well.
MVM’s release of the series is a little barebones to say the least. It is a subtitle-only release but there’s no extras to be found on the discs, and is missing the OVA episodes that were bundled with the manga in Japan, along with other things you’d maybe expect to see here like trailers and the creditless opening and ending animations. On that note, even the opening and ending in the show lack the subtitling you’d expect on a physical release compared to the streaming on-demand version.
The Japanese voice cast all give good performances, featuring some high-profile voice actors such as Yuuki Ono (Josuke Higashikata in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable) playing Kogarashi and Rie Takahashi (Emilia in Re:Zero) as Sagiri. Yuuna meanwhile is played by Miyuri Shimabukuro, who is probably most well known for her role as Carole in Carole & Tuesday.
The soundtrack, composed by Tomoki Kikuya (sporting credits for shows such as Eromanga Sensei and Squid Girl), is both cheery and cheeky, matching the tone of the series well. The opening and ending also follow along the same lines, with the opening, Haruna Luna’s “Momoiro Typhoon” being an upbeat J-Pop number, and the ending, “Happen ~Kogarashi ni Fukarete~”, sung by Eri Suzuki, Miyuri Shimabukuro, and Rie Takahashi, being a chill and easy-to-listen-to track that fittingly closes out each episode.
Overall, Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs is a decent ecchi romantic comedy that is at times surprisingly good-hearted when it puts its full weight against its fun cast of characters. While I found that it started to run out of road in its second half, it’s mostly fairly harmless harem hijinks and I think anyone who likes this type of show will have a good time. It’s just a shame the release itself is a little sparse in its presentation.