Why I started watching: I had heard some people compare it favourably to Non Non Biyori in the slice of life/iyashikei department, and I was looking for more supernatural-themed shows after Kotoura-san. it supposedly featured Japanese mythology to boot, which is one of my favourite genres.
What happens if you take aspects of Violet Evergarden and Angel Beats! and wrap it in a mythological slice of life? You get Konohana Kitan! This show wasn’t inherently sad, but it did make me cry a lot nonetheless. I did not think that any show would ever take my Favourite Iyashikei title away from Non Non Biyori, but this one won me over and captured my heart. While the anime doesn’t have an official English name, Konohana means blooming flower and Kitan roughly means supernatural tales, and this chill Slice of Life anime follows the daily lives of several kitsune (fox spirits in Japanese mythology) girls, each one representing a different flower, as they serve and attend to guests that pass through Konohanatei, an idyllic mountainside inn, on their journey.
The mountain inn is set near a small village consisting of a mix of humans and mythological creatures, and that is all the characters formally say about the inn at first. However, it becomes evident quite quickly that there is an otherworldly aspect to not only the inn, but also the guests that visit, and that the entire place is some sort of a spiritual representation of a place between worlds, where people rest on the way to or from the afterlife. The show does this by heavily utilizing a technique I love very much, and something that both Aria and Amanchu! do as well – by slipping into reality discordance every so often, defined as scenes where reality will blend with supernatural or fantasy without the character (and sometimes even the viewer) realizing it at first.
The show starts off with the adorable Yuzu, second from right, being inducted as a new attendant at the inn. The other fox girls teach her the ins and outs of working there, but like ripples in a pond, they themselves get inspired by the strength of her innocence and the joy that she brings to her work. Each episode consists of one longer story or two shorter ones, all loosely connected to each other, and the show mesmerizingly shifts back and forth between slice of life segments showing off Yuzu’s growth and the relationships between the attendant girls, and supernatural segments when guests arrive or during festivals. All sorts of visitors from Japanese mythology stop by the inn over the twelve episodes – animals, spirits, and even minor gods. There are also some implied or actual romances between the girls, though apparently less so than in the manga, and neither the romance nor the drama ever become prominent enough to overshadow the slice of life and supernatural aspects.
The anime is full of lovely visuals, not only in terms of the really cute character art, but also iyashikei-style scenery shots of the inn, the mountainside, sakura groves, the town festivals, and more. The girls also spend most of their time in colourful, flowing yukatas, which I have mentioned being a huge fan of. All this led to a feeling of permeating serenity while I was watching the show, even during the bits that made me tear up. No show had ever ticked off so many positive boxes on the checklist for me before this one! It even wrapped up with a mind-bending final episode that came out of nowhere. It’s hard to describe without spoilers, however it was awesome getting to see a typical Japanese festival from the other side of the lens, and impressed upon me a great “wow” sensation. Since then, it has affected how I see New Year festivals and praying at shrines in other works that have featured it.
Matching the mood of the show, the starting and ending songs were all very soft and serene. The ending songs were all sung by various combinations of the girls’ seiyuu, but unfortunately each song only got to feature in three episodes at most, so there wasn’t much time to get hooked by them, especially since I binged all twelve episodes in one day. Despite that, I really liked the last two ending songs – Yukihana Kirameku Ieji nite by Yuzu (Yuuko Oono) and Satsuki (Sawako Hata), and Shiji: Kusa no Yukari by Yuzu. The last song in particular was only played once, yet it ensnared me by the sheer strength of how the last episode wrapped up what was already a very strong show for me.
Final Score: 10/10