Image source: 『このはな綺譚』アニメ公式‏ on Twitter

Over 15 years ago, Studio Ghibli introduced the world to a whimsical hot spring inn in Spirited Away. Now, the animation studio Lerche is taking us to a whole new hot-spring inn in Konohana Kitan.

In Konohana Kitan a female fox spirit named Yuzu has lived a secluded life with a Buddhist nun. In order to learn more about the outside world, Yuzu is sent to work at a hot-spring inn. While working at the inn, she learns how to interact with the patrons and goes on the occasional magical adventure with her coworkers.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to imagine what kind of series we’re going to get with just the description. But, with Konohana Kitan, we get the basics very quickly: fox spirits, a little slice-of-life, and whimsical adventures in a hot springs inn that services anything but your normal human.

This instantly brings to mind the movie Spirited Away insofar as we’re seeing a young girl work at an inn that services mystical guests. However, what sets Konohana Kitan apart from Spirited Away is how our main character, Yuzu, is already part of the spirit world. So, rather than seeing Yuzu shocked at a whole new world, we see her overjoyed in learning the in and outs of her job and meeting new people. That’s not to say the world in Konohana Kitan isn’t magical, but we easily forget that it is.

Image source: 天乃咲哉 アニメ10/4~‏ on Twitter

Right off the bat, we see Yuzu excited about her new life as she’s taken into an Edo Period style town to work at the inn called Konohana-tei. As a fox spirit who’s lived a relatively secluded life, the bustling town is a new experiences for Yuzu. For instance, she’s astonished by the assortment of people, shops, and two busy carpenters who’re mice. Yet, this isn’t just Yuzu’s first chance to see a world that’s completely new to her, but also ours as well.

Image source: 『このはな綺譚』アニメ公式‏‏ on Twitter

It really brings out the magic of the series too as we’re adjusting to the world just as much as Yuzu is. But, in our case it’s not the hustle and bustle of the city, but the fantastical images we’re seeing with the background character designs, like the mice dressed as Edo Period carpenters. It’s very much like the movie Spirited Away when we see the images of whimsical creatures like No-Face. This instantly transports us to a wondrous world that’s familiar enough to our own.

But, with Konohana Kitan, rather than seeing our heroine in despair, we know Yuzu is in a very safe place. And this lulls us into a the relaxed state we’d experience at any traditional Japanese inn.

Image source: 『このはな綺譚』アニメ公式‏ on Twitter

It’s actually Yuzu’ job of nakai (a woman who serves guests at traditional Japanese restaurants and inns), though, that brings out the most entertaining aspects of the series. Her duties are limited at first, such as mopping the floors. But, as she becomes acclimated in her job we see her develop more confidence.

One instance in the first episode shows Yuzu mopping a hallway in Konohana-tei. She becomes a bit overzealous in her duties and overdoes the mopping, making the floor slippery. Unfortunately, this causes one of the patrons to slip and fall.

Image source: 『このはな綺譚』アニメ公式‏ on Twitter

Yet, rather than taking the punishment herself, Yuzu quickly learns from her mentor any mistake by one nakai is the responsibility of all the nakai. For Yuzu, it’s her first time coming across the concept of group responsibility and she learns a great deal from it. This is very important for Yuzu considering she’s lived away from society for so long that group efforts don’t come naturally to her.

Thankfully, though, the patron is a kind man and doesn’t ask for any sort of repentance from Yuzu or her fellow nakai. Thus, even in her first interaction with the patrons at the Konohana-tei, we see her grow as a character.

We’re going to see more of Yuzu’s development as Konohana Kitan goes on. And as she grows, we’ll likely see her encounter many whimsical creatures. And that means we get to see a slice-of-life series that spirits us away.

There is currently no international streaming information available for Konohana Kitan.

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