"Spirited Away: Cute Edition"
- Episodes : 12
- Genre : Slice of Life, Fantasy, Seinen
- Airing Date : October 2017-December 2017
- Producers : DeNA, GAGA, Genco, Lantis, Memory-Tech, Studio Mausu
Konohana Kitan Introduction and Story
Konohana Kitan is based on the manga series of the same name by Amano Sakuya and was serialized in Comic Yuri Hime S. Yuzu, a young fox girl, arrives in a small, peaceful town populated by humans and animal spirits alike. Accompanied by her guardian Bikuni-sama, Yuzu went uphill to the magnificent hot springs inn named Konohanatei to work as a new attendant. At Konohanatei, Yuzu befriends other fox girl attendants as they greet and serve the visitors—be it human spirits, animal spirits or even gods—and help them heal their tired bodies, and rejuvenate their souls with the calming hot water and relaxing atmosphere of the Konohanatei inn.
Konohana Kitan is a short slice of life anime about fox girl spirits as they live their lives in Konohanatei. Yuzu was raised as an orphan by a nun named Bikuni, and having spent her childhood in solitude, Yuzu is oblivious to everything and sometimes have trouble communicating with people. Over time, Yuzu matures as she gained experience, warms up with the attendants of Konohanatei and earning their friendship. The anime also focuses on the inn attendants like Satsuki and her reason for working at the inn and her shaky relationship with her sister. Or Ren who is in love with her childhood friend, and also working at the inn, Natsume. Or Tsubaki, the inn’s Okami and how she ended up managing Konohanatei.
Throughout the series, the girls meet a cast of travellers from a man’s spirit refusing to leave the inn because he lost any reason to return to the human world after he went into a coma, a boy who wants to be a sumo wrestler and asks the tomboy Natsume for help, a mother mourning the loss of her daughter, a cursed doll seeking acceptance, and a mischievous spirit causing trouble to the inn like playing with the feelings of Ren towards Natsume.
Eventually, it’s clear that everything revolves around Yuzu for she gets into a lot of situations like interacting with various spirits, even going as far as accidentally entering realms that she may end up getting lost and never return. Yuzu’s friendliness, kind demeanor, and pure-hearted soul have helped troubled souls get back on track to fix their troubles. Yuzu’s aura can even reach the past—Much like Chuck Norris can roundhouse kick you yesterday, Yuzu can touch the hearts of the past. Believe us, it’ll make sense once you watch the show.
What We Liked About Konohana Kitan
Like most Slice of Life anime of the cute-girls-doing-cute-things variety, Konohana Kitan is a show that’s perfect to distract yourself after watching a grueling anime episode where your favorite character revealed themselves as the villain or the girlfriend of the protagonist found a new lover. The girls at Konohanatei have colorful personalities that anyone can find a favorite. If you’re a tsundere fan, Satsuki is your girl. A love stricken girl who is in love with another girl, but doesn’t have the courage to express her feelings? Ren is your fox girl. You want a more loli type, is silent and very playful? Bam, Sakura is gonna make your day.
The stories, while they tug your heartstrings, they’re very light-hearted and melodrama-free. Each episode is Yuzu interacting with new guests of the inn, be involved with the stories of her friends, and an ending that gives you a warm and relaxing feeling. Another great thing about the stories of Konohana Kitan is its focus on Japanese fantasy elements from fox girls, animal people, settings, culture and how the characters are portrayed. Instead of the slice of life staple of a girl being late for school, or having trouble with their homework and love life, we get a cursed doll who ended up as an attendant in Konohanatei who wears a maid uniform, or Satsuki competing against her sister about who has the most skill as a shrine maiden. Or a god of war spending his free time with a girl because no wars have ensued for a while.
Despite Konohana Kitan’s simple premise and its episodic nature with no overarching main plot, topics for discussion are very plentiful, especially on episodes that can be interpreted in several ways. As mentioned previously, the anime is set in a fantasy Japanese world with spirits and gods. Viewers who are not familiar with Japanese folklore will raise questions as to why this turned into that, or why that became this.
When Honey’s Anime and friends watched Konohana Kitan’s as it came out, the most common topics involve a story based on Japanese folklore. For example, the origin behind the story of a girl making a cloth out of rain, or a story of a girl who transformed from a baby to a teenager over the course of one day, and so on. The most popular of all, as far as we can tell at least, is what these fox girls will look like as they grow old. There are several hints like when a fox girl reaches a certain age, they’ll turn into humanoid foxes. Foxes or kitsune take on many forms with various magical abilities in Japanese folklore, so there are a lot of interpretations to discuss. It’s really interesting to have discussions about Japanese folklore after watching an episode of Konohana Kitan.
Why You Should Watch Konohana Kitan
1. Focus on Characters and Stories
Konohana Kitan is episodic in nature and is strictly character-driven with no real main plot, especially for fans who just want their daily dose of cute fox girls doing cute fox things. While there are some weak stories, the rest are very good and they not only focus on one or two girls of Konohanatei, it also focuses on the various people they meet. And with the fantasy elements in play, a certain story will be hard to predict.
For example, Yuzu encounters a boy wandering around the inn because he ran away from an orphanage after his parents abandoned him there. After a few heart-to-heart discussion with a fellow guest of the inn, the boy returned back to the human world. A few weeks later, that very same boy returned and he’s now a teenager. Then it was revealed the boy was actually the spirit of a dog who finally got a new family. The stories may be hard to grasp but everything comes together in the end and it will leave you an “AH! I get it now!” moment.
2. The Calm Before or After the Storm
Slice of life shows come in many forms, and arguably, the most popular among fans are shows with the majority of the main cast being girls going about their daily quirky lives with no plot to follow or anything to be invested in. Shows about cute girls doing cute things calms you, relaxes you, and is a good tension breaker before and/or after watching a more serious anime. Konohana Kitan is that very same kind of show where you just sit back to unwind. Nothing in the anime is offensive to the senses. Konohana Kitan is the perfect tension-breaker.
Why You Should Skip Konohana Kitan
1. No Main Plot or Important Story Arcs to Follow
The plot isn’t really a big selling point in a general slice of life because life goes on with no definite goals. All you do is watch episode after episode without feeling that each story presented gets you anywhere. While this isn’t a big negative, this may turn off fans who some definite conclusions to character relationships like, for example, Ren and Natsume’s romantic relationship, or a more detailed story arcs like the Satsuki’s bitter rivalry with her sister, or a more in-depth story regarding the Konohanatei inn’s power to cleanse the bodies and souls of visitors.
2. The Anime Was Playing It Safe
Konohana Kitan has many great episodes, but some are just unremarkable because the anime was playing it safe, especially in the character relationships. When something builds up, it dies quickly, and then repeats.
The biggest thorn in the anime is how Ren and Natsume’s relationship seem to drag on and each story doesn’t end with any satisfying conclusion. It’s been pointed out that Ren has been in love with Natsume since childhood and we get to see moments of Ren blushing because of Natsume – being the tomboy that she is, she acts cool and manly in front of her.
There are moments of jealousy when Ren overheard other girls getting swooned by Natsume at a festival, and by the time Ren gathers all her courage to act, the episode ends. This is very frustrating and feels like the anime is just dragging on to encourage viewers to continue watching in hopes that the next time we see Ren and Natsume, the episode ends with them accepting their love with a kiss.
Konohana Kitan, as a whole, is a decent anime series that delivers the right blend of cute girls doing cute things in a fantasy setting. The characters, atmosphere, the art style, the songs, and ambient music make Konohana Kitan a calming and relaxing series as it serves as a comforting break in between shows with a more serious, gloomy, oppressive, violent tone, and stories.
Slice of Life fans will surely enjoy the anime, but it’s not a good anime for people who want a good main plot or want characters to grow and move on, be it confessing their love to someone or see what their future holds. Though we’d still recommend Konohana Kitan whether you’re a fan of Slice of Life or not because, well, who knows, Konohana Kitan might surprise you with its characters and "stories". It did surprise us, maybe it’ll do the same for you?!