Continuing our trek through the anime that we’ve overlooked, we’ve come to Konohana Kitan. Cute girls? Check. Fox ears? Oh yeah. An adorable slice of life that you can’t help but enjoy? Yup yupp~
Synopsis: 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.
When you think of slice of life anime, a compelling story is probably not something that immediately comes to mind. More often than not, the “story” is nothing more than the age-old exercise of cute girls doing cute things, with little to no actual story involved. For this genre, I don’t think there’s really anything wrong with that, but Konohana Kitan surprised me by exhibiting something that you don’t often see in shows like these, a heart.
Throughout its twelve episode run, several feel-good stories are woven in that feel right at home among the otherworldly goings on in this anime. You usually don’t see stuff like that in cute girls doing cute things anime such as this, or at least you don’t see it done as well as it’s done here. For me, this dose of substance (and feels) is what really differentiates this anime from so many others in the genre.
Thanks to the supernatural nature of the series, there’s a little more flexibility and liberty that takes place with the narrative, which heavily involves Japanese folklore. Better yet, some of these stories intersect with one another, with a character from one story being involved in a seemingly different story from another episode. It’s surprising, yet pretty awesome, and I think it adds a lot to those individual storylines.
This doesn’t mean that Konohana Kitan is overly serious, as there is a lot of comedy thrown our way. Thanks to the relaxed and easygoing nature of this series—as well as the insanely cute aesthetic—I think it’s easy to draw comparisons to GochiUsa, but in terms of comedy, I’d definitely rank this higher than that. I probably wouldn’t place it as high as Yuru Yuri, though, let’s just say that KK isn’t a slouch in the humor department.
Ren (and Satsuki) becoming “pregnant” and Sakura’s constant bullying of Okiku are funny situations that come to mind, and there are plenty more what they came from. All in all, this series delivered all the cuteness and silliness that you could ask for in a show like this, but I think the unexpected emotional component helped take it above and beyond many of its brethren, and I enjoyed the story very much~
Moving on to the characters, since she’s the main character, let’s start with Yuzu. While Yuzu’s naive and gullible, she’s also hardworking and has a heart of gold. That may sound a little like one of those generic protagonists that you occasionally come across, but that’s not Yuzu at all. She’s as sweet as can be, and you just can’t help but like her. It certainly helps that she’s involved in more than her fair share of comedic moments, yet she’s wise beyond her years, so for a main protagonist, she’s pretty damn good.
Back before this anime started airing, it sported the “shoujo ai” tag on MyAnimeList, so I’m sure many people were excited to see what would come of it. However, at some point afterwards, MAL dropped the shoujo ai tag from KK‘s profile, but don’t let that fool you. This anime is easily on par with the KinMoza‘s of the anime world, and whether it’s Ren x Natsume or even Yuzu x Satsuki, the yuri in this anime is substantial and very welcome.
Contrasting personalities is an understatement when it comes to Yuzu and Satsuki. Unlike Yuzu, Satsuki is overly serious and straightforward, and early on, Yuzu often found herself the subject of Satsuki’s discontent. However, Yuzu’s steadfastness eventually results in Satsuki caring about Yuzu more than she’d like to admit. There are plenty of hints that paint the two of them in a romantic light, although their relationship doesn’t appear anywhere close to what we see from Ren and Natsume. I wouldn’t say that Natsume goes full-on tsundere, yet she definitely leans in that direction, and it contributes to the slow change in their relationship. Considering how much exposure Yuzu and Ren each got, you could make the argument that Satsuki is underutilized, especially in light of the sibling drama she’s involved in. If nothing else, more screen time might’ve resulted in some more cute blushing when she’s sometimes around Yuzu, but when it comes to the yuri in this anime, there’s no topping Ren and Natsume.
From the moment they met as children—after Ren had been bullied by some boys—Ren and Natsume always seemed like a bona fide couple. Natsume is the tomboy-ish girl that often gets confused for a boy, while Ren is the stereotypical girly girl that’s very feminine and loves fashion. Neither has truly revealed their feelings for one another, and in Ren’s case, she’s really terrible at hiding it. I don’t know how Natsume can’t see that Ren is crazy about her, but however you look at it, they might as well be canon.
One of my favorite exchanges involving them came when Ren saw Natsume holding a scared Satsuki in her arms. At this point, there’s a ghost running around Konohanatei, and while they were alone searching for a way to restore power to the hotel, Natsume (or more precisely, a ghost impersonating Natsume) nearly planted a kiss on Ren. So upon seeing Satsuki in Natsume’s arms, Ren calls a confused Natsume a pervert and when Natsume wonders what she’s talking about, Ren tells her to “ask her own dick” (in response, Natsume says she doesn’t have one). 😀
Compared to some of the other pairings from other anime (like Aya x Youko or Shino x Alice from KinMoza), Ren and Natsume definitely seem more like an actual couple. From Ren’s perspective at least, their relationship appears far more serious than the other two, and they have considerable time to show it. Episode three mostly revolves around them, and another lengthy scene that comes to mind is their time at the summer festival. Whether they’re bickering or whether Natsume is partially accepting/returning Ren’s feelings, they’re absolutely adorable together, and as much as I like Yuzu, Sakura, and Okiku, I think Ren is actually my favorite character in the show~
Despite all these cute characters, there’s one that stands out from the rest. One that’s even more adorable than the others. Of course, I’m talking about Sakura. She doesn’t say much, but that’s all right, because she lets her adorable actions speak for her instead. Somehow, she made chasing someone with scissors appear adorable, and I just couldn’t get enough of her.
As for the remaining characters, Kiri’s the head attendant at Konohanatei, and she’s pretty enjoyable herself. When I first starting watching this, I automatically assumed that she’d be Yuzu’s mom, but I guess not. Okami, the owner of Konohanatei, didn’t leave much of an impression with me, but Okiku did. She’s a doll that finds a home there at the hotel, and she often finds herself as the comedy relief, as she’s usually being chased around by a scissors-wielding Sakura.
Obviously, I’m a big fan of this cast of characters. For me, the characters are probably the most important determining factor of whether I end up liking a slice of life anime, and in this case, I enjoy both the characters and the anime, a great deal. The relationships between Ren and Natsume and Yuzu and Satsuki just make a good thing even better, and since some other similar shows have received more than one season, I’m hoping that KK can somehow follow suit, because I’d like to see more of these girls.
Like almost every other slice of anime out there, Konohana Kitan looks fine, but unlike some of those other shows, it has the benefit of the rural countryside that provides plenty of opportunities for some serene and tranquil shots of nature. From a visual standpoint, you probably know what to expect from anime in this genre, and this one doesn’t stand out too much.
But with that out of the way, let’s get to the main topic at hand. This anime is obscenely cute! I mean, there are many, many slice of life anime that feature cute girls doing cute things, but Konohana Kitan raises the bar even further. Visually, this is right up there with GochiUsa in terms of cuteness, but when you factor in the fluffy ears and bushy tails of the many fox girls at Konohanatei, it’s readily apparent that this is moe overload at its finest. Due to the extremely high cute factor, I could have done without some of the fanservice shots there at the hot springs, but luckily, those actually end up being pretty rare occurrences, so it’s not that bad.
In my eyes, if anime creators want to constantly try to one-up themselves in terms of cuteness, it should be Konohana Kitan that they should aspire to unseat, because I can’t think of another anime that’s cuter than this one.
It’s very easy to overlook the audio in many an anime, and while this one doesn’t do anything to wow you, I don’t think anyone can complain about the overall quality of the music. Regardless of whether the accompanying scenes involve ridiculous comedy, more poignant moments, or anything in-between, the music does a good job of accentuating whatever’s happening on-screen. In total, this anime has five (yes, five!) EDs—and unlike the OP—they’re sung by the various seiyuus. It’s hard to pick a favorite, so let’s just call it a wash, however, I can say that I do prefer the many EDs over the OP. And speaking of the OP, the lone OP, while I don’t think it’s all that memorable, it’s every bit as pleasant and easy to listen to as you would imagine (though, that didn’t stop me from eventually skipping it).
Overall, both the sound and animation generally fall in line with what you’d expect from a slice of life anime. On a more positive note, the absurdly cute characters steal the show, and for fans of the genre, that’s definitely a good thing.
Back when this anime began airing last fall, it was one of the many shows I picked up, yet after about an episode and a half, I wasn’t completely enamored with it, so I ended up shelving it. Boy has my tune changed…
After giving it a more of a chance this time, Konohana Kitan is probably as charming and heartwarming a slice of life anime as you’re likely to find. If you’re solely interested in cute girls doing cute things, this show has you covered, but it’s a lot more than that. With adorable characters, good comedy, some heartfelt stories that end up putting a smile on your face, solid production values, and numerous yuri moments, even people who don’t normally like slice of life anime might take a liking to this~