It's gentle, intelligent and likeable. Sometimes, perhaps, it's a bit too gentle. There's plenty of emotional depth, but the show's also capable of relaxing into something not far off a supernatural slice-of-life show. Its weaker episodes will drift past pleasantly, but have more cooking than drama.
It's worth watching when it's good, though. I also liked the finale, which is charming and emotionally intelligent in all the best ways.
Tsubaki Aoi is almost the only human in the show. She's the granddaughter of the late Tsubaki Shiro, who appears to have been an appalling reprobate who hung out with supernatural lowlifes and was always getting into trouble. Even now, he's still famous in the spirit world and he's got fans and friends all over the place. Almost everyone thinks he was great, including Aoi. She's even still fond of his memory after learning that he used her hand in marriage as debt collateral after going on an insane spending spree. She's been promised to an oni called Odanna, aka. Ogre God or Master Innkeeper. Humans are Odanna's favourite food, but this one he's quite keen on marrying.
Aoi tells him to pull his head out of his arse. (She's inherited her grandfather's level of diplomacy.) She'll pay off Shiro's debt the old-fashioned way, by working. It's not easy for a human to find employment in the spirit world, but Aoi can cook.
It's a pleasant show. Almost everyone is nice and wants to help Aoi, although sometimes it takes work to drill past their surface personality. Odanna turns out to be the dream husband to end all dream husbands, although Aoi sticks to her guns throughout. (Beautifully polite, rich, respectful, urbane, super-intelligent, ridiculously faithful and one of the eight most important ayakashi in this realm. He rules a chunk of it.) He also has competition in the romantic department, with Aoi also getting close to a nine-tailed fox shapeshifter, Ginji.
This isn't a reverse-harem anime, but it's not hard to tell that it's a fantasy for a female audience.
Sometimes it can be a bit bland. Aoi cooks! Everyone likes her cooking! (She can recharge an ayakashi's spiritual power.) Everyone's encouraging and supportive! The more cooking-heavy episodes are the less interesting ones. Ep.18 stands out, for instance, in having more emotional weight than the episodes around it. There's a conflict between a hot-headed tengu father and son, with the former having long ago disowned the latter. (If there's one thing I've learned from anime, it's that tengu can be a pain in the neck. If you say that someone's "become a tengu" in Japanese, you're calling them conceited. They're also liable to be vain, stubborn, self-important, pig-headed, etc. although the ones here will be loyal allies if you can manage to befriend them.)
There's the supernatural angle, of course. The spirit world is dangerous and not all of its inhabitants mean well. Aoi gets in reality-bending trouble more than once, but this would have had more weight had the show ever given us some nice, juicy anthropophagy. We're often told that ayakashi eat people, but we never see it. Even Raiju doesn't do it and he's the most malicious, sadistic being in the show.
There's a lot to like here, though. Aoi has more spine and irreverence than usual for this kind of protagonist, being downright rude to Odanna at the beginning but also pleasingly strict about keeping her promises. When she wants (e.g. ep.5), she can be downright sneaky and dodgy.
I also quite liked the supporting cast. They're a bit short on quirks, but the pathetic bloke with a burning head in ep.11 made me laugh and that tiny, daft kappa ends up being the catalyst of ep.26. The show also has a neat line in amusingly adorable ayakashi. The cuddly spider siblings in ep.4 look wonderful, while the insufferably high-handed Ranmaru who talks down at everyone turns out to be capable of a Cute Puppy Monster Form.
Is this a good show? You could probably say so, yes. I won't be keeping the episodes and I can't see myself needing to rewatch it, but it's consistently decent with some stronger episodes. The second biggest strike against the show is that it's 26 episodes long, to be honest, which is a lot of time to spend on a relatively modest amount of plot. It's about its characters more than its storyline... but it carries itself fairly well and I never felt the show was dragging or anything. (The show's biggest problem is all that cooking, but that's just my personal prejudice. Avoid this show if you prefer action-based anime, though.) That said, though, they do manage to create some high stakes and a handicap for the cooking finale, before turning it around with an idea that's unexpected, funny and heartwarming.
There are things I'd expected that didn't happen. We never meet Aoi's mum. (The original light novels are still ongoing, so I presume that'll happen one day.) However it's a well made, warm, emotionally mature trip into Japanese mythology, by way of lots of cooking and an arranged marriage. It's nice.