As I sat down to watch Konohana Kitan, I thought back on my experience with the manga, which was to mostly ignore it when it was running as Konohana-tei Kitan in Yuri Hime S magazine. Animal ears are not my thing; I just never bothered to follow it.. I’m familiar with Amano Sakuya’s work though, and I was ready to not very much like the anime. To my surprise I did not hate it. ^_^
The story follows the adventures of a kitsune-girl named Yuzu, as she apprentices at an inn in the world of supernatural beings. Streaming on Crunchyroll, the anime is based on the manga that now runs in Gentosha’s Comic Birz, which is a good fit for the series. Birz tends to have a fair smattering of supernatural stories and a heavy dollop of fanservice. Konohana Kitan fits both these criteria easily, and adds a slightly schmaltzy overall tone of joyful appreciation of life and emotionally engaging/manipulative narrative, as well as lovely scenes of Shinto ritual and religion. A little like Natsume’s Yujin-cho with fox girls breasting boobily and occasionally saying and doing things with overt sexual tones for basically no reason (in a way that no one ever would.)
The schmaltziness increases as the series goes on and, since this is slice-of-not-human life, there’s a splash of tsukumogami, youkai, gods, and other random things that populate Japanese myth and folklore. I’m basically watching the series for these and doing something else during the frequent and extended bathing scenes. Honestly, my favorite scene so far was when we saw Izanami and Izanagi drawing Onogorishima from the primal waters.
The Yuri in the series is exactly what one might expect under these circumstances – it’s there, it’s servicey. Yuzu is sharing a room with Satsuki, a moody and irritable sempai at the inn. They are instantly a couple, as Yuzu’s ineffable upbeat attitude quickly wears away Satsuki’s cynicism. Ren is another passive-aggressive character, paired with boyish Natsumi who is the most openly honest of the vixens at the inn. She and Ren are already a couple when we meet them and they share the few kisses in the series as of yet.
Would I recommend this anime? If you actively enjoy fanservice, yes. If not, then yes, with reservation. I don’t dislike it, although I do resent being manipulated by it and still find the service tiresome. Otherwise it is mostly cute and sappy and Yuri.
Art – 8 Lush backgrounds, detailed textiles, beautifully rendered floorboards, generic faces.
Story – 7 Sometimes sweet, occasionally creepy (both intentionally and just because some service is downright creepy,) mostly sentimental.
Characters – 6 Most of them would be intolerable in any real life situation
Service – 8
Overall – 7
You might be put off by the oversentimental tone, or the service, but if neither of those bother you much, you’ll probably enjoy Konohana Kitan.