In a bustling village of spirits, Yuzu, a cheerful fox girl, starts her first job as an attendant at the traditional hot springs inn Konohanatei. Though Yuzu has no experience working at such a high-class establishment, Kiri, the affable and reliable head attendant, immediately puts her to work learning the basics.
While Yuzu's eagerness initially proves to be more of a hindrance than a blessing, her playful nature brings a unique charm to the inn, as both customers and her fellow workers quickly warm up to her clumsy yet well-meaning mistakes. Under the guidance of the other foxes—the rigid Satsuki, the carefree Natsume, the critical Ren, and the quiet Sakura—Yuzu steadily learns the trade of an inn attendant while learning to love the magical world surrounding her.
Konohana Kitan presents the heartwarming tale of a simple fox girl forging bonds with others and finding a home amidst the mysterious, beautiful world of spirits.
Please note this review is intended to be read by those that have finished watching Konohana Kitan and while care has been taken to minimise spoilers there may still be spoilers within character analysis. You have been warned.
Based off a well-known manga of the same name Konohana Kitan gives us the opportunity to see what the life and duties of a team of fox girls would be if they decided to operate a traditional hot spring inn in an setting reminiscent of ancient Japan that’s mixed with a fantasy world The first episode of the series really did an excellent job of introducing
me to a world where all sorts of races exist and live alongside each other and left a pretty good impression on me enough that I decided to stick with it and im glad that I did.
Taking place in a fantasy world that combines the traditional culture of ancient Japan with the fantasy world is a world that is populated by all sorts of races and creatures each of which has their own cultures and mannerisms. Here humans are but one race that exists in harmony with many other races that live in the world. The overall story follows the adventures of Yuzu a young fox girl that until now has been living with her master and guardian on the outskirts of the city and follows her exploits as she joins the staff of the Konohantei a large and popular hot spring inn that serves as the city’s main flagship hotel that has a well-earned reputation of being able to provide its guests with attentive service and solutions for problems that bother them. As Yuzu joins the inn’s staff to work as an attendant she will be joining a number of interesting characters that include the workaholic and serious-minded Satsuki, the elegant and refined Ren, the tomboyish but considerate Natsume, the quiet but helpful Sakura and the relaxed but intelligent head attendant Kiri. Working together with such a colourful cast and at such a relaxing hotel Yuzu would soon learn that providing rooms and helping with the needs of the hotel’s guests is only half of their duties and a true attendant also works to ensure that any problems that they are bothered with are dealt with and ensure that they can enjoy their time here to the fullest.
Yuzu voiced by new seiyuu Yuuko Oono is one of the main characters of the series and is the main protagonist of the series. A fox girl that had until the start of the series had lived her whole life with her master Yuzu is an innocent, eager and polite young girl that’s also positive and cheerful. In the beginning of the series Yuzu was a happy and go lucky girl that while a bit naïve made up for it by being eager to help others in their duties. Though an energetic girl she was also clumsy and in the beginning caused no small amount of trouble for her co-workers but instead of letting that affect her Yuzu did what she proves to be able to do the best which is bounce back. While dismayed at first that her master will be leaving her to work at such a strange place Yuzu as the series goes on comes to understand the reasons behind her master’s decision and comes to love working at the inn. While having no real skills in the beginning Yuzu in an effort to not bother others shows one of her more prominent traits which is that of her diligence as she works hard to both support her fellow attendants and learn how to improve her skills so as not to slow them down. This willingness to learn new skills to help her friends so as to not affect their duties is one of the traits that truly define her.
As the series goes on and as Yuzu comes to understand the roles of an attendant more it can be seen that Yuzu starts to develop a fondness for working at the inn. This is because it allows her to not just work to improve her skills but also in allowing her to meet many new characters and situations that she can learn from and thus give her a purpose. Though surprised at first that being an attendant also involves listening to the problems that the guests are troubled with as the series goes on it can be seen that Yuzu is a very kind and caring person by nature that cares a great deal about the guests and their circumstances and she will try her utmost to understand the problems that they are burdened with. While respectful towards the guests and knowing that sometimes it can be hard for them to say what troubles them to strangers Yuzu would often go to great lengths to try and understand and figure out the problems which often results in the guests eventually letting up and tell her. While knowing the limits of her knowledge Yuzu nonetheless tries her best to offer her insights into the problems that were expressed and come up with a solution that is often a surprisingly well thought one. The character of Yuzu I felt was an interesting and well-designed one that had some pretty good development as the series went on. Seeing her develop from the naive, eager and clumsy young fox girl into a kind, caring and considerate young fox girl that was as adept at work as she was at listening to and understanding guest’s problems I felt was one of the best things about her character. I felt that her seiyuu Yuuko Oono really did an impressive job at voicing the character of Yuzu.
Sakura voiced by veteran seiyuu Ai Kakuma of Brave Witches and Asterisk Wars fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Yuzu’s fellow attendants at the Konohanatei hot spring inn. A quiet, innocent and carefree member of the attendant staff Sakura despite being the youngest of the inn’s staff is a veteran attendant that has been working at the inn for some time. While polite and helpful towards both guests and fellow attendants it can be seen that Sakura is someone that is slow to trust others and seems wary of outsiders that enter into the close family that is the inn’s staff of attendants. However, as the series progresses it can be seen that Sakura once she has determined that the new member was someone that was trustworthy would gradually open up her personality to them and eagerly try to bond with them. While a quiet girl Sakura has been shown to be very loyal to her fellow attendants and friends and while she doesn’t speak much she will let her actions speak for herself. As it is I felt that the character of Sakura was an interesting character that emphases on the quiet but cautious member of the inn’s attendants, but I felt that she would have been better if she had more voice lines for her seiyuu. Still, I feel that wordless interactions with the others certainly had its moments that were appreciated such as her hostile relationship with Okiku.
Satsuki voiced by new seiyuu Sawako Hata is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Yuzu’s fellow attendants at the Konohanatei hot springs inn. A serious-minded, dutiful and hard-working member of the inn’s attendant staff Satsuki is a veteran member of the attendant staff and well versed in dealing with the types of guests that stay at the inn. While hardworking and dutiful and trusted greatly by the other members of the team in the beginning of the series it can be seen that Satsuki’s, attitude was rather aloof and quiet and seemed to be wary of working as a team with others. Moreover, her serious-minded and workaholic nature also meant that she often clashed with the more laid-back members of the team such as Kiri and Natsume. Despite this Satsuki’s experience of dealing with guests and ability to react to sudden situations is something that is valued greatly by the rest of the team and it can be seen that when she’s directing others to their duties that she imparts a sense of purpose and order to them when doing so.
As the series goes on and as we see her interact more with the cast and with Yuzu, in particular, it can be seen that she is burdened with a great deal of responsibility that has the effect of driving her to do her best in her work. In the beginning of the series, Satsuki was someone that treated her work as an attendant with the utmost importance pursuing it relentlessly and never taking any time off for herself even for festivals. As a result of this Satsuki when she had time off was someone that looked somewhat lost when she had nothing to do which I felt was kinda sad considering her age. The main cause of this was her desire to show her sister that took her dream role from her that even in another role she can still do an excellent job. A direct consequence of this desire, however, is the pressure that she imparts on herself as she is afraid of making mistakes and cause troubles to others. As the series goes on and after meeting Yuzu and interacting with her Satsuki’s personality starts to gradually change. While she still remains hardworking and serious it can be seen that she’s also willing to interact more with the rest of the team on a more personal level and no longer keeps a distance from the others. In particular Satsuki gradually learns to rely on the other members of the team and place her trust in them rather than try to do everything on her own. The character of Satsuki I felt was an interesting character and one that was both well designed and saw a great deal of development as the series went on. In particular, I really liked the interaction that Satsuki actually had with Yuzu and the changes that she caused to develop in Satsuki’s personality. All in all, I felt that her seiyuu Sawako Hata really did an excellent job of portraying the character of Satsuki.
Ren voiced by new seiyuu Risa Kubota in her first role as a seiyuu is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Yuzu’s fellow attendants at the inn. An elegant, kind and understanding person Ren like Satsuki is a veteran member of the attendant’s team. Outwardly Ren is a positive, hardworking and the very image of someone that’s both self-confident in her skills as an attendant as she is in her physical appearance. As a result of this self-confident nature of hers Ren is someone that has great pride in her abilities and skills as a host and in the beginning her attitude can often be seen as arrogant and haughty as she takes everything seriously. However, beneath this surface personality, it can be seen that Ren is actually a very fair person and doesn’t like to be in debt to others or let them take the blame for her mistakes. While kind and positive it can be seen that Ren also has a cynical side to her as well best seen in her first interactions with Yuzu. This side of her however gradually disappears as the series goes on as a result of her deepening friendship with her. A prominent trait of Ren that I find interesting is her ability to switch from one expression to another quite literally a trait that not even Satsuki is able to accomplish. This I feel is an indication of both Ren’s skill as an attendant as well as her personality which is adaptive of different situations.
As the series progresses and more of Ren’s personality is revealed it can be seen that Ren is someone whose inner personality somewhat contrasts with her outer personality. Outwardly Ren is someone that takes great pride in her physical appearance and believes that it’s the duty of all girls to look pretty and presentable to others. However, within her inner personality it can be seen that this holds a far greater meaning within her as inwardly Ren believes that if she wasn’t dressed up she wouldn’t be able to display the confident and efficient self that she shows to others meaning that in a way it’s her pride and dressing up nicely that actually makes her the person that she is to others. An interesting aspect of Ren is her close relationship with her fellow attendant and childhood friend Natsume. Although they are co-workers and have been working together enough in that they know each other’s habits as well as weaknesses it can be seen that their relationship goes beyond that of simple friends as Ren seems to be extremely conscious of her performance and mannerisms when in front of her. The interactions between these two I felt though were actually really cute especially when Ren is remarked by Natsume to be cute as Ren is someone that wants to be seen as classy and efficient rather than being cute. Overall, I felt that the character of Ren was a well designed and developed one that while haughty and proud on the outside is also unexpectedly nice and forgiving in the inside a contrast that I felt suits her nicely. For her first performance as a seiyuu, I felt that Risa Kubota really did an excellent job in her portrayal of Ren.
Kiri voiced by veteran seiyuu Manami Namakura of Aoki Hagane no arpeggio and Unlimited Fafnir fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Yuzu’s fellow attendants at the inn. A calm, composed and elegant fox girl Kiri serves as the inn’s head attendant and as a result is the commander of the team of attendants that work at the inn. While Kiri can appear to be a rather laid-back person it can be seen however that Kiri is a perceptive and understanding person that as a result of her extensive experience is someone that’s kind and understanding and able to offer a great deal of advice and opinions to her subordinates and guests and as a result is well respected by both. Though the duties of a head attendant are a busy one it can be seen that Kiri is someone that trusts each of the girls massively and is willing to let them try and solve problems that guests may be burdened with but at the same time willing to protect them if things turn out sideways. While Kiri’s assignment of attendants may appear random at times it can be seen that this choice is actually based on her analysis and understanding of each of the skills of her team as well as their personalities and thus allowing her to deal with any flare-ups that happen quite easily. While Kiri’s personality may appear to be teasing at times it can be seen that she’s always ready to help and motivate people if they seem to be stuck at an impasse showing her helpful nature. The character of Kiri I felt was an interesting character in that while she appears to be a laid-back person that lets her subordinates handle the bulk of the work the fact that beneath that image of her is actually someone that is perceptive, kind and understanding of both guests and her subordinates and is actually someone that cares a great deal about her charges and willing to protect them was a nice surprise. Her observations on the guest’s problems as well as her tendency to let her charges think of a way to solve them so as to allow them to learn I thought was admirable and something that all bosses should aspire to be. I felt that her seiyuu Manami Namakura really did an excellent job at voicing her.
Natsume voiced by veteran seiyuu Ayaka Suwa of Asterisk Wars and Phantasy Star Online 2 fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Yuzu’s fellow attendants at the inn. A positive, helpful and mischievous fox girl that like Ren and Satsuki are veteran members of the attendant staff. On the surface, Natsume is a positive and cheerful person that loves to pull jokes on people and help set the mood in situations that turn out to be grim. However, beneath this side of her it can be seen that Natsume is also someone that is diligent and skilled at her duties and cares a great deal about the welfare of the guests as well as her fellow attendants and would work hard to protect her fellow attendants and friends from harm. While Natsume’s default personality may appear to be a careless one it can be seen that she too has a serious side to her personality as when she becomes serious she can be surprisingly perceptive and understanding of the reasons that people may be down for. In this side, she’s shown to be surprisingly loyal and protective of her friends as well.
On the surface, while Natsume is often paired with Ren in their duties as attendants of the inn it can be seen that their relationship is far closer than that of normal friends and co-workers. As the series goes on and their past gets revealed it can be seen that the two were in fact childhood friends that had bonded with each other due to a rather unusual circumstance in Ren’s past. As a result, it can be seen that Natsume views Ren as someone that is very important to her and treasures the relationship that they have between them strongly enough in that she will be there to protect her when she needs it. This relationship between the two forged over a simple promise to prevent Ren from going into despair I felt was interesting as it allowed us to see the depths of the bond that exists between the two characters. The Character of Natsume I felt was a well designed and developed one whose role in the series while focusing on comic relief and bringing fun to serious situations also served as the glue that bound the cast together. I felt that her seiyuu Ayaka Suwa really did an excellent job at voicing the character of Natsume.
Animation wise I felt that the inn and the town areas that the cast visit in the series was very well designed and did an excellent job of combing the scenery of ancient Japan and the new shared culture that exists in this world. The design for each of the races that were featured in the series I felt was also pretty good and varied enough to ensure that each being will be interesting as you see them. The individual character designs for each of the main cast I felt was well designed and matched well with each of their personalities. The music for the series I felt was one of the strong points of the series as it helped convey the overall mood of not just the series but also of the individual episodes and their stories as well. In particular, I really liked the opening and ending themes that the series made use of as it was not only catchy but also calming and cute as well with the latter being applied best to the ending theme. The voice acting for the series I felt was one of the series main strong points as I felt that each member of the cast was able to do an excellent job in portraying their characters. In particular, I felt that Yuuko Oono, Sawako Hata and Risa Kubota who portrayed the characters of Yuzu, Satsuki and Ren respectively deserve particular praise as I felt that despite being new seiyuu’s they still did a fantastic job in portraying their assigned characters.
In overall Konohana Kitan was an anime that I really enjoyed watching and had among its strong points an interesting premise, an excellent story that conveyed a lot of interesting life lessons, an interesting and well-developed cast of characters and excellent voice acting and music. The premise for the series itself is a basic one that is often seen in slice of life animes that Konohana Kitan belongs to but this simple premise I felt was what enabled the premise to be one of its greatest strengths of the series. Hot spring inns are one of the staples of the Japanese tourism industry and choosing to form a story around the work of the attendants at the inn as they work to not just manage the inn but also take care of the guests that stay at the inn and make use of the services was an interesting idea. The overall story that makes use of this interesting premise I felt was a strong one as not only did it show the casts development as they worked alongside and bonded with each other but also show how they worked to understand and solve the problems that bother the guests. This theme of not just taking care of the guests physically but also working to solve the problems that are bothering the guests mentally I felt was interesting and resonated well with the premise of attendants taking care of their guests. Each of the problems that were featured as part of the story I felt was well done and thought out that really imparted a number of interesting life lessons both to Yuzu and the cast and to us as the viewers. The fact that these problems incorporated a great deal of themes that were paired with each of the unique circumstances of the guests themselves I felt was an excellent move.
In overall Konohana Kitan was an anime that I really enjoyed as it had an interesting premise and story that featured plenty of well thought out and developed sub-stories that served to make each of the guests that the cast welcomed a unique existence. Of these the cursed doll Okiku, the spirit of the daughter and the weaver were one of my favourites. The character development for the series as well as the development of the gradual bond of friendship that forms between the cast as they encounter, solve and learn from each of these problems was something I particularly liked as well. As a final score, I would say that Konohana Kitan would deserve a final score of 10/10.
A beautiful village of spirits. A joyful weather. And a mysterious feeling of tranquility. It’s not every day you get to see a group of mythical girls hanging out together and enjoying life. Konohana Kitan is a show that’s simple as it gets – cute girls doing cute things with a touch of fantasy. This anime is a heartwarming show that knows how to put all the ingredients to craft a charming slice of life. For me, Konohana Kitan is a gem that really shined without complexity.
Bringing together a cast of characters into this show feels like the creator needed to inject personality. I mean,
lots and lots of personality. The initial first episodes portrays the innocent fox Yuzu as she arrives at Konohanaeti. The first impressions she brings in is questionable as Yuzu really demonstrates what it means to be a klutz. She is clumsy, inexperienced, and doesn’t know her place well. However, Yuzu is a very friendly girl that can get along with everyone and through her personality, she improves and has an innate charm that other characters begin to appreciate. It didn’t take me long to accept Yuzu as a likable character because the way she bonds with others.
Indeed, relationship dynamics is an important part of this show and it really knows how to sell those points. Yuzu’s relationship with Satsuki is one of those relationships that really tests herself. In the beginning, their relationship starts rocky because let’s face it, their characters really are almost like foils of each other. Yuzu is friendly and respectful while Satsuki has a much more serious personality. Not to mention, Satsuki is a very hardworking character and doesn’t tolerate mistakes often. One might describe her as a workaholic although it’s clear that she cares about her friends/co-workers. Throughout the show, she begins to warm up to Yuzu and it’s obvious that she cares about her. Yuzu’s personality also has influence on her as Satsuki begins to enjoy the love of working, rather than just work towards her dream.
Beyond Satsuki, Yuzu also brings the best out of other characters too through character relationships. Yuzu is able to impress Natsume and the both of them strives to work harder to make Konohanaeti into a better place. She and Sakura also shares a peculiar relationship because of their size although the both of them really begin to respect each other as time goes on. On the other hand, there’s Natsume and Ren, two characters that’s more like a ship-tease pair compared to the other cast. Through their interactions, it’s obvious that Ren harbors a crush on Natsume even though the show doesn’t fully explore it. Although this show isn’t a yuri that capitalizes on female romance, it can easily get fans to fantasize on this pair. That being said, the core characters in this show contains a lot of personality. Whether it’s Yuzu’s friendly attitude, Natsume’s tomboyish tendencies, Satsuki’s rigidness, or Ren’s strive to be perfect, the show can easily get you into the mood just with its colorful characters
Despite the story being simple, it has a mysterious aura that almost feels like a bit of suspense. What exactly is Konohanaeti? Why do some characters come there? What is its true purpose? Where this is even located? Throughout the show, it has a certain mystique that I can’t help but wonder. While almost every episode is an adventurous sitcom, there’s definitely more than meets the eye about the world setting. Plus, we do get hear stories about the past that influences the future from certain characters. There’s also one particular episode that really capitalizes the opportunity for world building. It’s one of those episodes that draws the line between fiction and reality. Additionally, this anime is great at evoking certain emotions. These can bring a smile to the viewers’ face or more poignant moments for emotional storytelling. The comedy is also sold well on most parts through the relationship teasing and even occasional fan service.
Adapted by studio Lerche, Konohana Kitan is a colorful show and I mean that as one that transcends its setting than beyond just an inn for characters to visit. The places has a youthful theme and brings in all types of characters including ones with relations to mythology. The animalistic characteristics of the cast is also noticeable such as Yuzu’s ears and Satsuki’s tail. There’s even a doll girl introduced in this anime to add a bit of innocent feel. Fan service exists and it’s often portrayed as a way of character teasing that’s hard to ignore. The theme songs are melancholic with a colorful vibe and decorated with creativity.
That being said, I also feel like the character cast does a great job at portraying their characters. I mentioned before that the show has a lot of personalities. To bring that to life, it requires skill of the VA and thankfully, they pull it off in a masterful fashion. Yuzu’s innocence is portrayed convincingly thanks to the talent of newcomer Yuuko Oono. Sawako Hata’ talent is also worth mentioning for bring a character like Satsuki to life. It’s not easy to adapt a character with a serious voice but she pulls it off with flying colors through her words. Kiri, perhaps the most mature character of the cast is also well adapted thanks to the modern talent of Manami Numakura. Throughout the show, every episode also maintains a balanced OST with touches of melancholy.
Konohana Kitan is an underrated show that proves slice of life doesn’t always need to rely on a modern setting. It doesn’t have to involve characters living the school life. Instead, this anime stands out on its own with its credible genres. The way every character is adapted really brings the best out of each other. It has a story that is simple enough to get viewers invested into its idea. I can honestly recommend this show to just about anyone. To put it simply, Konohana Kitan is an enchanting show that’s a love letter to slice of life.
Do you like fox girls? Do you like yuri? Do you like heartwarming mythological moments? Then Konohana Kitan is for you! Konohana Kitan excels very well at two things: making appealing yuri scenes between the fox girls and providing heartwarming moments with interesting takes relating to Japanese folklore. And on those two merits, the show is able to succeed.
The show seems to be divided between two different sections: moments that build up the character’s relationships to each other and moments that are more concerned with telling fantastical stories that attempt to warm up the heart. And while the show is able to succeed at
each part individually when put together there is something a bit lacking. Take the fantastical folklore episodes, while there are many episodes that are not only able to use folklore to tell a compelling and unique story but also manage to be heartwarming and genuinely surprising. Separated from the rest of the work, they stand out as particularly strong episodes that do a good job of making one feel a greater connection with the world around them. It’s amazing what they are able to do with old stories of folklore to talk about the human condition and give hope to those that are watching. There is this sort of feeling of helplessness to what life can throw at one, but also a feeling of triumph of being able to overcome it. Whether it be a dream eating Baku or the story of a mother and her child, the show is able to make unexpected powerful moments out of nowhere.
However, when half the show is dedicated to this it does have an effect on the rest of the show. Even though they are nice to watch, they are often focused on side characters who don’t have any barring on the main cast. Which isn’t necessarily a problem, especially when they are able to do it quite well, but it does lead to the character’s not getting as much development as they could be.
The yuri moments also show this problem. The moments that show the bonds between the characters are all very touching and are just so adorable and loveable. But at the same time they also often cover the same ground. Furthermore, the amount of interactions between the group is limited because the main characters are often paired to the hip to their partner. While this does make for a nice one on one bond and provides some very satisfying and noteworthy episodes, it lacks the same sense of community that other CGDCT shows are able to richly show.
It also doesn’t help that the show tries to have more characters than it can work with. The main characters are pretty nice. They all have distinct and likeable personalities. They have enough depth to them that they are interesting but sadly there isn’t enough depth to them to make them standout characters. Ren, Yuzu, Satsuki, and Natsume fall into this. They all have interesting traits and interact nicely between each other. However, the other cast members of Konohana Kitan suffer from lack of screentime or characterization. While Okiku gets some time to shine, Kiri and Sakura feel like one-note characters. They have some nice small moments but overall they feel more like afterthoughts than anything.
Normally that isn’t a problem but the combined effect of having extra filler characters and having a lot of episodes focused on side characters means the main cast doesn’t get as fleshed out as they could be. Even though each of the episodes the main cast does get does a very good job of showing what drives them and what they’re like it still feels a bit shallow. Like there’s still more that can be dug into. I think part of this is the lack of other character interactions. When most of the character’s screentime is made up of another character they tend to get forced into roles. Yuzu and Satsuki are often going to act the same way around each other. Ditto with Ren and Natsume. While those interactions are nice it ends up leaving a more static view of their characters. People are not just defined by their interactions with one person, but with all sorts of people, and all of the different ways they react to different things.
The art is quite nice and beautiful although the animation can be somewhat lackluster at times. It’s clear that there are several tricks they use in order to make them needless animation. And to be fair they work overall. The chibi fox blobs are very cute. That said when it leads to as little animation as there was in episode 5, it can be quite a problem. The art style is very nice though and it’s able to exude it’s aesthetic very well, which is quite nice for what it has going for it. The sound also helps with this, and the mellow and relaxing tracks are able to fit in with the soul-soothing hotel that they work at. The art-style and sound both are adept at enhancing whatever feel the show is trying to go for.
Overall Konohana Kitan is a case of a story that is good in episode-sized chunks but when combined together it lacks the consistency to make it the super strong show that it could be. Even still it has really cute adorable yuri moments and really meaningful and emotional moments. And if you’re into that, like I am, I highly suggest it as it’ll have a lot of content that can warm one’s soul and fill one’s heart with sunshine. And if you’re not, I still think this show is strong enough to have things to offer. While I do have my complaints and issues with the development of the show, that doesn’t stop it from being an adorable blast of a show!
The genre of Slice of life has been so riddled with all female casts of cute girls doing cute things that each season seems to have its own version of the trope with a slight difference in its storytelling and/or setting in order to give the show some ‘unique aspects’. These aspects are usually easy to distinguish and end up seeming gimmicky cause at the end of the day; it’s still cute girls doing cute things. But then you have Konohana Kitan, a show about cute kitsune girls doing…not just cute things in their daily lives.
In a world between Earth and Heaven there
lays a bathhouse called Konohanatei. In this bathhouse, guests ranging from normal people to high-ranking gods attend this bathhouse for some nice rest and relaxation from the attending staff that care for all that pass through here. It is here where a young kitsune by the name of Yuzu steps forth in the next step of her life as part of the attendant staff, coming in contact with the various individuals that end up at this place.
Konohana Kitan is in a word, whimsical. Each episode is structured as its own story based around either a story dedicated to a guest in the bathhouse, or the several attendants of Konohanatei, thus giving the show a nice blend of character and story that builds up the kind of world that’s established in this midway between life and death. While indeed the show does have some emphasis on ‘cute girls doing cute things’ as all-female casts in this medium tend to showcase, the show is well aware of the relaxing and calm tone that it establishes and runs with it all the way to the end.
Furthermore, the stories are unique and interesting. Based primarily around Shintoism concepts, the show really emphasizes the mystical in a very prominent way, as Yuzu’s experiences with the various guests give off a sense of wonder and amazement that I’ve found to be an aspect that’s very refreshing. In comparison however, the stories based around the main cast I’d say aren’t personally as good, but still hold their own to provide enough depth and attention to the young attendants so that they feel more like characters rather than a cardboard figure that acts as the leeway to let the story we’re talking about happen. (Looking at you, Isekai Shokudou)
With even pacing and a huge focus on story and expanding the world on an episode-by-episode basis, Konohana Kitan stands as a heartwarming and relaxing series with a story that entertains more than teaches. It knows the ground that it stands on, and firmly does so with extra emphasis on trying to be good and unique rather than fall into the trap of ‘cute girls doing cute things’. Yes, that still kind of does happen, but it’s so few and far between that it really doesn’t matter.
+ Well made episodic stories
+ Character development
+ Knows what it is and sticks with it
The various attendants of Konohanatei take up I’d say…half of the existing episodes, with surprisingly enough, our main protagonist having the least with only one episode solely focused on her.
As the newest attendant of Konohanatei, Yuzu is in short, a klutz. She’s new to the job and the demands of being an attendant sort of turn her on her head because her naturally airheaded and innocent demeanor lead her to in some cases be more hindrance than helpful. Nevertheless, the show establishes her as the main person to experience most if not all of the whimsical tales from the bathhouse’s various guests, sort of making up the lack of backstory/development screentime she gets from the series. Beyond that, her naturally optimistic and child-like wonder helps give off a positive vibe of the show, which really adds to the experience. On her own, I don’t think she’s all that amazing, but when put into context, she really does enhance the overall experience.
Satsuki on the other hand is the polar opposite, being more strict (and prickly) compared to her assigned partner with dreams and aspirations that reach beyond a life working in the bathhouse. On a base level, Satsuki is a tsundere, but she does have her shining moments where she softens up from her naturally strict demeanor, becoming a well rounded character especially when factoring in the episodes dedicated to her and the backstory we’re told about how she came to the bathhouse. Personally, not my favorite character, but she has a lot of qualities that make her a respectable cast member.
And then there’s Ren and Natsume. Personally, I’m not a fan of these two mostly because their connection stems from the trope of a girl swooning over the oblivious tomboy who more often than not treats her like a princess through princess carry, extreme worriment, etc etc. They’re eternally linked in this show, so much so that their episodes are ‘their’ episodes rather than a Ren or Natsume only episode. Again, the show establishes quite a bit of depth for them so that they feel more alive, but based on personal bias alone, I just got vaguely annoyed that the show almost always dedicated their screentime together for yuribaiting.
As for the rest of the staff, we have Sakura, who gets no episodes to herself but is amusing and memorable in her own way, fox saber (Kiri) who is basically a really sassy and funny Artoria Pendragon with fox ears attached to her head (seriously though, the way she bundles her hair is EXACTLY LIKE THAT), and Okami, who really should get more screentime cause she’s also pretty funny too. More or less they’re supplements to the ‘main cast’, but I wish they got more time to them cause at times they really stole the show. As for the guests, there’s not much to say about them without delving into spoiler material. Just know that any given guest can take half an episode to a full episode, each of them leaving a lasting impression because more than anything, their stories on how they came to the bathhouse, what their legend or story is, and what they leave behind, give them significance that add to the overall show.
+ Hilarious and underused side cast
+ Developed main cast
+ Memorable stories
- Main cast is kinda tropeish
Produced by Lerche, the quality of Konohana Kitan shows us that it’s pretty. It’s very pretty. It’s about standard fare in terms of animation quality, but the light and airy color palette combined with a multitude of characters’ stills make the show calming and visually vibrant to look at. Not only that, but several episodes shift around the color palette and lighting of a specific episode to put emphasis on the story that’s being told at the time, a nice touch that improves the whimsicality of the show.
Another thing is the show’s comedic style. Sure you get your standard comedy faces and stuff in order to have exaggerated expressions for comedy’s sake, but the really amusing thing I found was, since the characters are all kitsune, rather than use normal chibis, the show straight up turns them into cat-like blob creatures that shuffle around the screen. Yes, while it’s much easier (and by extension cheaper) to animate than normal chibis, it’s unique and I have honest to god never seen a ‘chibi’ this funny before.
+ Color palette and visual style add to the show’s tone
+ (Personal Bias) Hilarious chibis
Initially going in and expecting the soundtrack to be just so moe pop song, both the show’s OP and ED, “Kokoro ni Tsubomi” and "Haru Urara, Kimi to Sakihokoru" exude a soft and calming beat with only the slightest push of energy in the ED to give it enough oomph to sound like a proper seiyuu song. Personally I prefer the OP to its ED counterpart, as it more encapsulates the show’s atmosphere and overall tone much better, but both are definitely worthwhile listens if you’re trying to find something calming.
I totally did not just watch this show because I like kitsunes. I swear on my good name. While yes that is definitely one reason I was interested in the show to begin with, the other was how the show would actually present itself. At first glance, I saw it as a bit of gamble, seeing if the ‘kitsune girls’ was going to be the show’s gimmick and it was just gonna be another round of moe tropes rehashed for the umpteenth time. And I thankfully relieved. A couple seasons ago, I reviewed a show called ‘Urara Meirochou’, which had a somewhat similar premise with a mix of moe and mystical, which ended up being more of the former than the latter. I’d say that Konohana Kitan is that show done right, as it flips those two in importance and gives us something akin to Mushishi or Natsume Yuujinchou, which is a welcome sight since I very much am a fan of these lax yet magical shows.
Did I like this anime?
While not one of my most anticipated watches, Konohana Kitan was certainly a rewarding experience. I found myself in awe at some of the stories and really would’ve liked to have more, but all good things must come to an end. Also, fox saber. That is totally Artoria if you slapped on a pair of fox ears on her. And she’s super sassy to boot. She is so funny; why did we not get more of her? Also the doll. I find it amusing how we have an established character that spends most of her screentime mounting her trusty dream pig steed.
What didn’t I like about this anime?
I feel like some of the dedicated episodes for Satsuki and Ren/Natsume were unneeded. The characters were pretty established by that point and bolstering more of what we knew was something I felt was unnecessary, especially when the latter two have their entire story dedicated to yuribaiting. Yuribaiting is fine, but I mean come on, you can do MORE than that.
Would I recommend this show?
If you’re a fan of the likes of the two shows I mentioned before, Mushishi and Natsume Yuujinchou, then I’d say that Konohana Kitan is not that far from those two. As I’ve stated many times cause I’m a broken record, the show is whimsical at its core, focusing more on the stories of people and the people themselves than establishing an overarching narrative. It’s a relaxing and calm watch with only some fanservice (compared to most moe shows), and definitely seemed to have gone under the radar for a majority of the Fall 2017 season. So if you’re looking for a good show that didn’t get much attention, this certainly fits the bill.