While it wasn’t as high on my list as MahoYome, Konohana Kitan placed high on my list of 2017 moe shows to watch. I liked the designs enough that the mangaka made it to my short list of Twitter follows (the anime did a great job adapting the origin designs, too). As a fan of slice of life, I had every reason to hype this show. It looks great, and its story hews more to the supernatural like Mushishi and Natsume. And hot spring!
English: Konohana Kitan
Season: Fall 2017
Length: 12 ep. x 24 min.
[Yeah, Spoilers Ahead]
If it wasn’t clear from the designs, Konohana Kitan is very much an iyashikei anime. It’s cute-girls-doing-cute-things at its core, with emphasis on the cute girls part. For starters, everyone who works at Konohanatei, the namesake hot spring inn, is a fox girl. I think Kemono Friends exposed how much of an appetite there is for kemono characteristics in the fan base, and Konohana Kitan taps right into that.
The characters in Konohana Kitan run the gamut of slice of life genre staples. The ever-optimistic and hard-working Yuzu is the lead, while the blue-haired tsundere, Satsuki, takes the role of the secondary protagonist.
Of course, there are lots of hints of yuri too, especially between the tomboyish Natsume and her admirer Ren, another tsundere.
There’re also the quiet girl, Sakura, and the sometimes-tough-but-often-lighthearted maid lead, Kiri.
And when I said HNNNNNG, I wasn’t joking. Konohana Kitan is loaded with moe. Whether it’s the time when Satsuki shrunk,
or when a new member, the cursed doll Okiku, joins the team and gets a makeover in the process,
or seeing them fully decked out in colorful kimono,
there is overflowing moe-ness in every episode.
And It’s Not Just HNNNNNG
Not all slice of life shows are equal; I especially like the ones that stays interesting by introducing new characters throughout the show. New characters can inject a sense of freshness into a show and change up the character dynamics a bit, helping to stave off a sense of boredom that affects slice of life shows that otherwise shows the same characters doing the same things over and over again.
Konohana Kitan adds both recurring and non-recurring characters throughout the season. As mentioned above, while the show started with only fox maids in Konokitantei, they eventually recruited Okiku, a cursed doll sent to the hot spring inn to be cleansed. They also picked up a special pig creature that can eat nightmares.
Konohana Kitan isn’t just a story about the furry creatures that work at the hot spring inn though. As the show progressed, it gradually revealed the nature of Konohanatei through the stories of people/things that visit the inn. Konohanatei is a place between the worlds of the living and the afterlife, and sometimes living beings wander to the inn when they lose hope in life.
Notably, one episode towards the end was a mini-punch to my guts. Okiku, herself a discarded doll, took pity on another seemingly discarded doll, only to have the pity turned on Okiku herself after a conversation between the two.
It’s a short scene within the episode, but man, THOSE FEEEEELZZZZZ. I didn’t expect that from Konohana Kitan, so it was a pleasant surprise towards the end of the show.
Konohana Kitan is one of those slice of life anime that manages to look great while also offering a touch of heart in its story. Ultimately though, whether or not you will like it depends on how much you like iyashikei shows and, perhaps, how much you like furry ears.