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.
"Haru Urara, Kimi to Sakihokoru" (春ウララ、君ト咲キ誇ル) by Konohana-tei Nakai no Kai [Satsuki (Sawako Hata), Natsume (Ayaka Suwa), Ren (Risa Kubota), Sakura (Ai Kakuma), Kiri (Manami Numakura), Yuzu (Yuuki Oono)]
Most moe shows create adorable characters for fans to love, but typically they stop there without taking their stories further.
Konohana Kitan isn’t one of those shows, and it would be woefully underselling it to say that it's just cute. Beyond its adorable cast of fox eared ladies and it’s initial “cute girls run an inn” hook there are deeply human themes woven in.
I don’t usually advocate for moe shows, however, I think Konohana Kitan hasn’t gotten a fair shake from most people based on its aesthetic choice, so I want to get my opinion down to hopefully steer some people to this wonderful show.
At the start of the show, the clumsy main character Yuzu gets her first job at Konohanatei; a hot spring inn in a village home to a variety of spirits and anthropomorphized animals. Konohanatei gives off a meditative atmosphere drawing in a variety of wise guests who impart life lessons onto the main cast, which includes six of the hot springs employees. Each episode follows the adorable employees through their daily lives working and living at Konohanatei, their personalities bounce off each other making plenty of funny moments that contrast with some really poignant moments that evoke very real-world themes. The first episode shocked me at how the story wasn't just meant to be generic, it has a purpose and so far it has achieved it.
The story may just be a mode for delivering themes and crafting memorable character moments, but it's a slice of life so the predictability didn't bother me.
The six leads are paired together in classic shoujo-ai fashion. In the first four episodes, the story has followed Yuzu, Satsuki, and Ren. The three of them have layered personalities that go beyond how they seem upon a first look, their backstories are interesting and are visible in their characterizations.
The two leads that have gotten the most development so far are Yuzu and Satsuki. They have a lot of chemistry together which makes the scenes that they're together very enjoyable.
When they're together on screen their simple but opposing personalities clash to make for some funny and endearing moments. That could be said for all of the employees; their personalities are so vividly detailed that when they clash it forces them to reflect on themselves, and those realizations stay with their characters and have been revisited throughout the show. As if they were real people, they face struggles from inner turmoil and resolve issues by gaining wisdom from each other and the knowledgeable guests.
A subdued and calming opening starts off each episode, but it gradually opens and grows louder, much like the progression of the individual story arcs. The voice actresses do a good job at their parts and that anime cat lady thing, even if it's not outstanding it's still pretty good.
The character designs are of course adorable and they’re also very expressive, their designs are fairly varied but they’re given life through the characterizations. Environments are simple but appealing to the eyes.
I’m not usually one to advocate for moe, but Konohana Kitan surprised me in how realistic its core messages are. Funny scenarios, adorable characters, and poignant themes, Konahana Kitan is the most pleasant surprise I've seen this year.
In the second episode, the adorable and optimistic Yuzu imparts her simplistic yet poignant thoughts of life onto the strict and serious Satsuki which warms her heart and immediately strikes a visible connection between the two. The connection felt realistic to me because the belief they shared transcended the adorable animal-people world of Konohana Kitan and shot directly into the real one.
The message is that you should enjoy life whenever you can because if you don't it will pass you by and fill you with regret.
Provisional Score 8/10
Don't judge a book by its cover, Konohana Kitan is a good show that's worth watching despite what it's aesthetic may imply upon your first judgment.
The show's strongest point is how well the characters are written. However, not all of the main cast members haven't been fleshed out. I can see this issue being addressed in the future, as I update this review I'll comment on how it (hopefully) gets better.
Cute girls doing cute things? Mild yuri slice-of-life? It's a bit hard to differentiate yourself when you are competing with hallmarks like GochiUsa, Yuru Yuri, or the latest hits (looking at you Kobayashi's Maid Dragon!)
Don't let KonoKitan's first 3 episodes fool you though. While it starts off slow introducing its main characters, I find its use of Japanese folklore, traditional customs, and legendary figures, to be fitting and clever. Ever heard of the Baku? Or the idea that dolls have souls? It's very interesting to see how KonoKitan weaves these concepts with its cast of characters in a slow-paced manner, while leaving commentaries on
the ephemeral nature of life. Sounds like Natsume's Book of Friends? Yes I can see some of its vibes here.
Characters-wise, we are treated to a somewhat-cliche group. The ever-naive Yuzu who occasionally offers advice beyond her years (and subsequently surprise her peers and customers), the rambunctious tomboy Natsume and her fellow interest Ren who acts ladylike, the younger sister walking in her sibling's shadow (Satsuki), and free-spirited Sakura. While this set of characters may seem all too familiar, and their interactions cliched, their antics still tug at your heart.
If you like a slice-of-life series, seeing "cute girls doing cute things", while having a Natsume's Book of Friends vibe, this is the anime for you.
I'm not a big fan of moe series, yet some friends recommended me this one, at first, it caught my interest because of the Shoujo Ai elements it posesses, but so far within 4 episodes, I got to see an anime which is a very heartwarming experience. You can expect light fanservice on this anime, very intended girl x girl relationships and very cute moments, so if you don't have anything against it, this anime will be a pleasant watch for you.
TL;DR: Overall Section
There isn't much story to tell, but the concept goes around an Inn that runs by foxes, if you remember Isekai Shokudou,
the concept is quite similar, but instead of serving food and focusing on side characters, this anime focuses on the main lead, their relationships and how they succeed on their work... Of course with a touch of slice of life, we will have heartwarming stories and the background story of each character will be revealed within time. 6/10
The animation of this show is pretty good looking, the main characters are very beautiful with their "moe-inducing" cuteness. I'll also like to say that this anime reminds me of "Amanchu!", mostly because Yuzu and her random faces reminds me of Hikari's dumb face (and how her cuteness involves her relationship with Satsuki just as Hikari has a really good chemistry with her diving partner) also the way that the "dumb looking foxes" look is funny and pretty much on point for comic relief. 8/10
The sound department of this anime is your typical set of anime girl voices... well... cute anime girl voices, it goes well for how each one of them is designed. The background OST is quite good when it comes to scenes that requires a really smooth soundtrack, be it sad, heartwarming or comic relief, it manages to hit me everytime. 8/10
About the characters, well we have Tsundere, Loli, Dumbass, Possesive, eh... boy looking girl?, the lead and the big wolf chief. Might sound a bit generic, but even if it is, their development is what makes this show what it is: Heartwarming, oh yeah and they can also be funny and cute, so there is variety here, if you want to have diabetes, you came to the right place. 7/10
I've gotta say, I didn't expect to like this quite as much as I watched 4 episodes straight. And I'll probably end loving it even more the more I watch it, having a weekly doses of cuteness can't be bad for your heart 8/10
Overall 7,4(7)/10: A cute girls doing cute stuff, now with foxes, very heartwarming, and cute foxes and diabetes inducing foxes and cute foxes... did I already state that the foxes are cute?
At first, I wasn't so hooked for this one, the first impression to me that it's just an average show based off the manga adaptation. But hey what a soft and good punch does the first episode delivers and onwards towards one-third of the way!
There isn't much of a story, it's just the introduction of one of the main characters, Yuzu, a fox who once lived in the mountains, and has come to town to adjust to working at Konohanakei.
The setting kinda reminds me of Urara Meirochou, with Yuzu acting similarly to Urara, both who were raised in the mountains and has come to town
to seek new life and meaning, with moe (see the CGDCT thing here?).
Probably the most supportive aspect of this show are the main leads.
Yuzu is the always cheerful and one that is always blur sometimes, but doesn't get in the way of things, and is outright endearing.
Satsuki is the feminist tsundere who acts like a tough girl, but as always with shoujo ai elements, her intimacy is one that will form the tact and core of her personality towards the cast.
Ren is the loli-est out of the main cast, and rightfully so, because another lead, Natsume, a girl-but-tomboy on the outside, has formed the shoujo ai couple, and sometimes when these 2 are on the scene, it feels like expecting some lighthearted "romance" that delves on the relationship between both of them.
Kiri is the chief staff (aside from Okami) for Konohanakei, and I got to say that out of the main leads, she's the most refined, and is always understanding and taking care of the guests and main leads. That's not to say that her character stands out, but is nice to have a support that is this calm and promising.
The art is unsurprisingly good and coupled with the expressions from the characters and their design, thankfully it doesn't come off as cheap, and shows that Lerche has definitely upped their quality when it comes to the backgrounds and the soft yet crispy-smooth animation supports the already great-looking aesthetics of the show.
One turnoff that I find is with the OST. That's not to say that all is bad, but I understand why both the OP and ED has to be tuned down to fit within the confines of the show's aspects. It's definitely above average but it's something that with each premiere episode, I would skip it entirely. The BGM on the other hand, is good and helps out at times where needed, and is a saving grace for the sound department. Character VAs are also remarkably well done (but not great).
Verdict (after Ep 4):
Like Urara Meirochou, some things I do have problems of are always somehow relieved by the time the episodes reach their end. I don't know what it is, but it keeps me coming back for more.
If you like moe and cute-girls-doing-cute-things, do stick on to find out. This show's not a winner in any right, but it does deliver on what it excels best.