Bingo Review 16: Money!
Basically, this is a fairy tale about an impossible debt, and how to pay it without having to get married to some random rich or important guy. Here’s the set up: Aoi Tsubaki is a Japanese college student who has recently lost the grandfather who raised her. The key thing they shared was an ability to see and interact with the spirit world. One day, Aoi stops to help a hungry ayakashi (catch-all term for folkloric monster-creature) and he drags her back into the supernatural realm with him. As it turns out, her late grandfather was a bit of a troublemaker in the supernatural world when he would visit, and he ended up owing one of the high-end inns about $1 million. He couldn’t pay it, so he gave the inn-keep an IOU, that the ogre inn-keeper could have one of his granddaughters as payment for the debt. The ogre, who happens to be the one who took Aoi into the spirit world, tells her that she can either marry him or get eaten to pay off the debt. She takes options 3: get a job and pay it off. The ogre, who goes by Odanna (not his name; it’s more of a title), decides to allow her 24 hours to find a job, which turns out to be difficult since all of the department heads either think she’s too weak as a human girl or they don’t like her because they dislike the idea of their beloved boss lowering himself to be marry a human girl.
This scenario above, about the impossible debt to be paid, seems to be the thing that gets the rest of the plot moving, but it’s always in the background, so it isn’t just a plot device/excuse for adventures- although it probably is a little bit that too. It’s the reason to get Aoi to interact with a variety of creatures, some of whom she helps out or befriends, and few who decide to help her. This is also a story about how trying hard will get you what you want in the end in a Rapunzel-esque way, and for the record, Rapunzel also has a big money-related element to it. It’s also looking to be a story about Aoi and the Odanna getting to know each other; I’ll bet an awful lot that the finale of the story has something to do with Aoi paying off the debt and having to decide if she really wants to go back to school in the human world, or if she’s going to stay with all her new supernatural friends and maybe even marry the ogre who seems like he might actually be kind of a good guy, in the manner of Beauty and the Beast.
The whole folklore fairy tale angle suggests to me that this is going to have that kind of vibe the whole way through, but what makes it stand out a little bit as interesting is that Aoi is not the stereotypical princess who needs to be rescued, or the purely self-sacrificing female; it’s more like she needs a hand to get started, like how Ginji the nine-tail fox comes up with the idea of Aoi opening a restaurant in an abandoned building (apparently she’s a pretty good cook), and then she might actually manage to pay off that million dollars, and learn more about her grandfather and heritage while she’s at it; Odanna hints there’s something about Grandpa Shiro that might be important. It looks like Aoi really does have to follow or chase the money in order to save herself in both a literal and meta- kind of way.