What They Say:
Halfway between heaven and Earth lies Konohanatei, an inn where Yuzu, a naïve yet eager foxgirl, works alongside her fellow attendants. As patrons come and go with the passing seasons and connections blossom between the girls, Yuzu’s curiosity guides her. Because every guest, expected or not, has a story to tell and life lessons to share—and Yuzu is happy to listen.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with an English language dub that gets a 5.1 boost, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series has a few fantastical moments from time to time but largely operates in the realm of the slice of life genre. That means it’s pretty dialogue-oriented throughout and there’s some nice placement with it in how it sets the stage with the three girls. This can bring in some decent depth from time to time in how they’re laid out and what they’re interacting with, but a lot of it is a standard and natural design that flows across the forward soundstage. The music is the richest part of it as you’d expect in this lossless form and we didn’t have any dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language track.
Originally airing in 2017, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two dics in a nine/three format that gives it plenty of room to work with. Animated by studio Lerche, the show has a really appealing color palette and works its details well for some of the costuming at times and the backgrounds to give it a richer look. There’s no scrimping here but it plays with a slice of life style show that has its slower moments and times of the cast just standing around. But that allows the atmospheric elements to stand out better as well. There’s a lot to like from rainy scenes to the eye-catch moments and more and the encoding captures it well. Colors are solid throughout with detail well-handled in the darker scenes while the bright and more colorful side of the has a lot to like in how it comes across. It’s an appealing looking show that captures the tone of the manga and the encoding works wonderfully.
The packaging for this release is a rare one from Funimation where it didn’t have an o-card with it. The slightly thicker than standard Blu-ray case comes with hinges inside to hold the four discs spread across the two formats with nothing held against the walls. The front cover uses the familiar key visual for the series broadcast run that gives us a look at the main cast spread across it going backward toward the inn itself. The cherry blossoms look good along the top underneath the logo to give it a little more splash than it has on its own and the overall color design and look of it makes clear what kind of show this is. The back cover has a light approach with the tapestry style background with a longer than usual summer of the premise filling up space nicely. The character artwork and shots from the show are pretty nice and we get a good breakdown of the extras along with an accurate and easy to understand technical grid for both formats. No show related inserts are included but we do get a great layout on the reverse side that features four of the Japanese release covers spread across it as well as a breakdown of episodes by title and number.
The menu design for this release works the right approach with some static imagery for each disc. Going with the character visual to the right while bringing in some of the thematic elements that you’d see in a kimono design or some of the interior tapestries works well as it has a period piece look but with the freshness of the character animation standing out so well as it does. There’s a large empty space within the left side that the series logo fills nicely but I really do wish that the log had some better design elements to it as it’s pretty simple and non-descript. The navigation is a simple block toward the lower left with the basic selections that are easily accessed as both the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback.
The only extras included with this release beyond the always welcome clean openings (of which there are two) and closing sequences (of which there are four) are the next episode previews that were produced for it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Sakuya Amano, Konohana Kitan is a twelve-episode anime series that aired during the fall 2017 season. The original work ran for two volumes back in 2009 before shifting magazines with a restart in 2014 where it not has eight volumes and is ongoing. Tokyopop has the local license for it as well. The anime adaptation saw studio Lerche brought in to animate it with scripts by Takao Yoshioka and direction by Hideki Okamoto. The series is one that I didn’t know much about prior to watching it but we basically get a kind of slice of life show involving all sorts of creatures that revolves around an inn and the exploits that happen there. It’s a charming little series overall, though one that’s lacking in a lot of real depth to it in terms of story.
Though an ensemble cast overall, the main focus is on Yuzu, a young foxgirl that has found herself working at a hotel called Konohanatei. Yuzu has been raised by a nun named Bikuni who now wants Yuzu to get a better feel for the world that’s out there. Because of how she’s been raised, Yuzu is a bit innocent to be sure but she’s also the epitome of kindness and cuteness with a desire to do right by others. Which makes her a natural pairing for Satsuki, the more serious-oriented worker in the inn that’s focused on just doing the job. We get nods toward her larger goals but the work focus is what dominations and her desire to be something more largely is just a character note more than a full-on active thing. Her pairing with Yuzu gives us the opposites attract thing nicely as they work together and you see that as frustrated as Satsuki gets at times she really does care for Yuzu.
With a few others in tow, almost all of them wearing kimonos while going about their work, we get to see their mild adventures and interactions that come from the job. These are sometimes simple things and often involve the chore around the inn, of which there are many, but sometimes there are strange events that happen. One involves Ren, who tries to live beautifully, wakes up to find an egg attached to her body. This sets off a whole ran of things as it relates to dreams and starts hopping between the girls. It’s not dark or dangerous but it has a lot of familiar hallmarks as the egg grows into a person over the course of a couple of days but has a deeper meaning to it. With the inn being a kind of mid-point inbetween realms, the supernatural has a nice focus when it comes in but it’s also often treated as it should in a kind of light way as just something that is.
We also get familiar stories within the season such as the summer festival where some of the girls head down to enjoy a night of activities there, which is always fun. Unless you’re Yuzu and you get in the wrong line and find yourself heading toward the afterlife. It’s something that seems like it should be more serious than it’s played – and it’s not just laughed at or anything – but the way the series has that light and ephemeral touch to it keeps it from feeling like there’s a real threat. Heck, the back half of the episode deals with some simple festival stuff among some of the other girls that’s pretty superficial and all. But, like any summer festival episode, we get fireworks and everyone coming together. There’s always the proper way to end things there.
What helps overall is that there isn’t a larer storyline playing throughout the series and it really is quite episodic – often with multiple stories playing out within each episode. That gives it some room to move without trying to craft something overly serious toward the end where you get this real sense of threat of everything ending or changing. The final episode does play with some otherdimensional aspects but you know it’s not a threat based past events. So having a show like this with lighter touches for slice of life and without forcing heavyhanded material into it you’re able to just enjoy the simplicity of it all more. But it’s also why the show works better a handful of episodes at a time rather than binging. In watching this over a day with all of the little stories that make it up there’s little that really stands out afterward. It’s filled with lots of nice little moments of character material that make you feel good, and you retain that at the end, but you’ll be hard-pressed to pull too many key moments.
Konohana Kitan is nice. It’s really that simple. It’s an enjoyable little supernatural-is slice of life series focused on an inn and the young foxgirls that work there. That’s obviously all that a lot of people need and the series delivers for them well. It’s a good show in small doses for something like and nice and I enjoyed it in that regard but it’s also the kind of show that unless you have a strong bond to it for some reasons will have a kind of ephemeral feeling to it. It’s well-produced and nicely animated and it gives you all the feels. But there’s little story here and the threats that we get along the way, few and far between as they are, never really feel like such. But it’s a cute watch and one that’s put together well in this set complete with a solid dub and an encoding that captures the great color design well.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode Previews, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: December 11th, 2018
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.