Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits[1] had a strong first half but kind of petered out in the second.

Aoi Tsubaki, a college student, has always been able to see yokai and other spirits. One day she offers food to one such, an oni, and is promptly kidnapped by him to the Hidden Realm. It turns out that her late grandfather owed debts to Odanna, and basically pledged Aoi’s hand in marriage in payment.

Aoi is… unimpressed by this and seeks to instead pay off the debt by working at Odanna’s inn Tenjin-ya, eventually opening her own izakaya called Moonflower as part of the Tenjin-ya business.

The first half of the series deals with the establishment, and early successes, of Moonflower. Despite the problematic setup, this half works well and Aoi has considerable agency as a lead character. The various yokai or ayakashi are generally well represented, and an interesting set of dynamics emerges.

The problem lies in the second half where Aoi is kidnapped (again) to another inn in the Hidden Realm with a mysterious ceremony approaching. This ceremony is needed to appease a mysterious ayakashi that only appears every 100 years, and disasters will befall the southern land if it fails.

The problem I found with the second half was that Aoi managed to become, simultaneously, the solution to every problem with the approaching ceremony and largely devoid of agency.

I didn’t feel like Aoi was working for her wins, they were just… happening because she happened to be involved. Individual episodes remained pleasant to watch, it was only in the aggregate that I felt that the show was losing the appeal of the first half.

Overall: Worth a look for the various dishes Aoi prepares, and a quite rich view of Japanese mythology in terms of the yokai/ayakashi. But the first half is definitely stronger than the second.

Here’s the first OP (which I really liked):

[1] AKA Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi