As you walk in to the beautiful wooden building, finally at the end of your journey. Your weary feet aching for a relaxing bath, and a slight hunger is tugging at the back of your conscience. You look ahead and notice a tiny figure walking towards you, the silhouette has two triangle shapes at the top and long flowing hair waving back and forth with her every step.
The girl is now right next to you, and you can see her clearly. It's one of the attendants of this inn, but also a fox complete with fangs, tail and tiny ears on top of her head covered with wheat coloured hair. Before you can speak a single word the fox-girl bows politely and exclaims: 'Welcome to Konohanatei!'.
Hopefully that beginning paragraph gave you a bit of an idea of what to expect from Konohana Kitan. And if not then maybe I can give you a better idea in the following paragraphs.
Konohana Kitan is an anime all about the inn Konohanatei, its attendants and its godly and mythical guests. It could have easily been yet another throwaway slice-of-life show focusing on a group of cute girls, but luckily good direction and artistic sense go a long way to help the show stand out. The slow and laid-back attitude of the anime combined with the at times breathtaking shots and sounds create the perfect atmosphere in which you truly feel like you're a guest at the inn too, enjoying your limited time there while making wonderful memories.
As soon as you look at the poster of the show you may notice how bright the show is. It's vibrant and colourful, giving you the impression of seeing the world through the ever-upbeat main character Yuzu's eyes. Just like her you will experience everything the world has to offer for the first time. Yuzu, like the viewer, grows up raised by a human and has to learn the ways of the gods and those of the attendants from scratch. It's a journey through which the anime takes great care to lead us.
There's many character moments between each of the girls and slowly we get to know them and their relationships with each other. One wants to become a priestess, the other has a hopeless romance with her childhood friend, and another is a cursed doll that's never had the joy of being played with. Being that the anime is only twelve episodes and the manga is still ongoing we don't get thorough explorations of everyone, but what we do get is enough to make me attached to these girls. By the end of the anime, I felt, like Yuzu that they were my friends. Konohanatei had turned from the rest stop at the end of my journey, into a second home.
It's not just the girls that we get to know, the show is mostly centred around having various guests at Konohanatei and having Yuzu and the other girls more or less soothe or alleviate their problems. In fact I'd say that it's the guests that are the absolute highlights of the show and bring the best out in the direction and art.
In episode five there's a part where Yuzu takes a slow walk through the garden, umbrella in hand for it is raining. The rain clouds darkened the sun and so the entire scenery is black and white except for the brilliant midnight blue flowers surrounding Yuzu, and Yuzu's umbrella. The sound of the rain is accompanied by the slow plucking of an acoustic guitar and the clattering sounds of someone weaving on a loom.
The combined beauty of all those elements completely sold me on the anime and now here I am, gushing about it to you, dear reader.
Throughout the show there's many little moments like this interwoven with the usual comedy befitting a slice-of-life show. Bittersweet moments that give each character a bit of background and personality. From a retired god of battle using his old katana to create a toy for a child to an old lady carefully crafting a yukata for her daughter every moment feels like it has weight, a fleeting moment in a person's life that you get to experience alongside them.
The comedic moments that come to complement the more melancholic scenes are non-disruptive. They're quite often loud and involve quite a bit of slapstick, but it feels natural. They're not here to make you laugh out loud either; they're here to relieve a little bit of the sadness.
The third part of the show, closely tied to the comedic side is the rather downplayed, but often brought up romantic element of the show. Almost immediately you'll be able to see couples forming in the show between the girls and the show does provide some adorable and heart-warming moments for the couples, but it never explicitly does anything. Don't expect anything like a kiss, the most you're going to get is a little bit of hand-holding. But is this necessarily a bad thing? I think not. I think it fits with the rest of the show that the romance is not explicit, that all we get are warm gestures of love, but never get to see the fruits of those gestures. In a way, it makes the viewer appreciate these little moments more putting an emphasis on the journey rather than the destination. We already know that both parties love each other, but how they show little bits of their affection during their daily lives that is what we don't know. And the anime is more than happy to show us.
Konohana Kitan is the kind of show that doesn't pull or try to aggressively grab your attention every moment it can. It knows how to take its time and let the viewer be taken in by the scenery, characters or sounds. Like a proper inn attendant it only suggests things to you, and never outright orders you around lest it be rude and improper.
If you want a laid-back and relaxed anime experience where you can take in all the sights and let yourself be charmed by a world of subtle magic and gods then Konohana Kitan is a great show to watch. Let yourself slip into the world it builds and enjoy your time at Konohanatei.
As you leave through the same old door you came in you look back one last time at the tall old inn that and at the attendants that have shown you so much hospitality. Everyone is here now seeing to your departure, seven heads with ears on them, seven tails and one little well-dressed doll. You take a deep breath of the crisp autumn air and wave one last goodbye to these wonderful people.
After taking a few steps, from behind you you hear the staff's last words to you: 'We hope you enjoyed your time at Konohanatei! Please come again!'
You walk on, knowing you have still have a long road ahead of you.