Review for Yuuna And The Haunted Hot Springs Collection
Fan service can be so annoying in anime, and often completely out of place. You’re watching a slice of life, feel-good comedy about cute girls doing cute things, and the director will for no reason linger on panties. It may be an end of the world drama, all tense and edgy, and the protagonist will have over-sized boobs, with half the budget blown on getting the bounce just right. It can feel so out of place in a story when the creators just stop everything in its tracks just to cater for a prurient target demographic. Just once you’d want a show to just blatantly sell its fan service, just put it out there, front and centre, that the show will be about sex with no pretensions to anything more. Enter Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs. And of course enter the BBFC, who have this belief that while sixteen year olds can have sex, it has to be below the covers and with the lights off until they are eighteen, and they go and rate the show beyond the reach of its ideal target audience. Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs is an Aniplex Show, so you might be expecting a premium price and volume count; only it turns out that Aniplex haven’t yet released the show in the US as yet, it’s still restricted to streaming. It hasn’t even been announced for Australia. We’re actually getting it first in the UK!
Kogarashi Fuyuzora had a dismal childhood, as he was prone to being possessed by any wandering spirit. Some intense training has toughened up his spiritual core to prevent that, and as a bonus, he’s learned how to exorcise malicious spirits, albeit by punching them. Now a teenager, he’s transferring to a new high school where hopefully he can live a normal life, albeit supporting himself by performing the occasional exorcism on the side.
He’s also got a ridiculously cheap room at the Yuragi Hot Springs Inn which will make things easier. There’s a reason why the room is so cheap though. It’s already got someone living there, the ghost of a teenage girl named Yuuna. It could be an easy thing to deal with, but Kogarashi can’t punch girls to begin with, and Yuuna is exceptionally cute, and apt to have a wardrobe malfunction at the drop of a hat. She not an evil spirit, and Kogarashi offers to help her cross over peacefully... and the ghost isn’t the only supernatural entity residing at the Yuragi Hot Springs Inn.
12 episodes of Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs are presented across two Blu-ray discs from MVM.
1. The Yuragi Inn’s Yuuna
2. Yuuna and the Hot Springs Ping Pong
3. Yuuna Goes to School
4. Sagiri is Watching Youkai!/Yaya is Cautious
5. Yuuna’s Body Measurements/Nonko’s Crunch Time
6. Ms Nakai’s Secret Adventures/A Sweet Day Off With Yuuna
7. Yuuna’s Mysterious Disappearance
8. Oboro Stops at Nothing
9. Chisaki of the Yuragi Inn
10. The Overly Aggressive Sagiri/The Seaside School and Kogarashi
11. Dancing Cheek to Cheek with Yuuna/Sagiri and the Final Exam
12. Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs And...
Yuuna gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on these discs. It’s a good transfer, clear and sharp with consistent colours. There are no visible issues with compression or aliasing and only the slightest indication of banding, which is to be expected given that this is a predominantly bright and colourful comedy show. The animation is smooth and the character designs are distinctive and memorable. The emphasis is on fan service, and nudity certainly abounds in this show. It makes me wonder if animators have to attend special classes to learn how to draw areolae.
The sole audio option here is a PCM 2.0 Stereo Japanese track with English subtitles locked during playback. They are of a small, yellow font with thick black outlines, very easy to read. There are one or two typos though, even if they are accurately timed. The audio is fine, the actors suited well to their roles, the dialogue is clear, and the action and the music comes across without any issue. It must be noted that there are no song lyric subtitles for the credits’ theme songs.
As near as I can tell, this is the first English language home video release for Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs, which makes this an MVM authored release. Unlike many home-authored releases, there are no problems displaying multiple lines of subtitles and captions simultaneously. The discs boot to animated menus, but there are no extras at all with this release; certainly not the more recent OVA episodes, but not even the usual textless credits.
This is what Love Hina could have been like, if the animators had been able to conform to Ken Akamatsu’s manga more faithfully. Believe it or not, that show had its lewdness toned down, its bathing scenes delicately hidden, and its sauciness curtailed. There’s none of that restraint in Yuuna, or if there is, then the original manga must be sold from behind the counter in anonymous brown paper packaging. Shock, horror, people actually get naked to bathe in this show and it is saucy in the extreme with the kind of sexually provocative mishaps that would be grounds for assault charges in the real world. And when it comes down to it, and perhaps because of it, Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs is the most fun I’ve had with a simple harem comedy in a long, long time, since Monster Musume. Naturally it’s rated 18, which is probably right for the content, but once again rates the show outside its ideal audience demographic. This is what I’d have wanted to watch when I was fifteen.
One notable difference is that the protagonist is actually interesting for a change. Usually the milquetoast male lead is such a non-descript teenage entity that he acts merely as a proxy for the audience. But here Kogarashi Fuyuzora actually has a backbone, he has a personality and some strength. He’s a teenage exorcist with some serious spiritual mojo, able to dispatch wayward spirits with a single punch. His weakness is that he can’t hit women, which is why he winds up moving in with Yuuna, the teenage girl ghost, promising to help her move on instead of just exor-punching her to heaven. The other residents of the hot springs inn also turn out to supernatural in nature, a luck goddess in the form of a middle school girl running the inn, a voluptuous, heavy-drinking and lustful mangaka descended from ogres, the vassal of a cat god with all those traits apparent (catgirl), and a demon fighting tsundere ninja girl, all unpunchable, and all powerful potential members of his harem.
He winds up sharing a room with Yuuna, and Yuuna’s a tactile sleeper who tends to lose her clothes and become semi corporeal when she sleeps, but when she wakes up wrapped around Kogarashi, her embarrassment awakens her poltergeist side, and through no fault of his own, Kogarashi winds up thrown into a nearby moat. This is the level of saucy humour to expect from the show, and with little or no pretence, it’s still a load of fun. Back to Kogarashi, who also has this aspect where as a child he was prone to being possessed by ghosts, which is why he trained up to be an exorcist to begin with and through the series, he’s continually revealing new special abilities that he learned while being possessed by certain spirits.
There are also more potential harem members to be met as the series unfolds, including a school-girl who Kogarashi helps with a possession incident, and who becomes friends with the ghost girl that she can’t see. There is a little shape-shifting raccoon girl who causes mischief early on because of her love of breasts, and winds up moving into the hot springs where there are supernatural well-endowed women willing to share. And there is also the demon girl, vassal of a dragon god, who sees Kogarashi’s power, and becomes determined to bring that powerful blood to her clan by bearing his child, whether he wants to or not.
Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs is pretty run of the mill for a harem comedy. That there are hot springs episodes will be no great shock, but there are a couple of beach episodes as well, some high school antics, a test of courage, a day at a swim park, basically any excuse to get the female cast in bikinis, all peppered with some supernatural overtones. The thing about Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs is that it is so unashamedly blatant about what it’s trying to achieve that it comes across as refreshing in the same way as the aforementioned Monster Musume did. And also, right now there aren’t as many saucy harem comedies being made as there once was. For me, this show is on the same level as Ah My Buddha, which was never the pinnacle of the genre. It’s just that as Yuuna isn’t facing that much competition in the harem comedy field; it’s actually a lot more fun.