I may have finished with Forbidden Scrollery, but it seems that I am not quite done with Japanese folklore as I delve into Sakuya Amano’s Konohana Kitan manga.
The manga was originally published in Ichijinsha’s yuri manga magazine Comic Yuri Hime S under the name Konohana-tei Kitan between 2009 and 2010. However, it went on hiatus before being relaunched in Gentosha’s seinen manga magazine Comic Birz in December 2014.
Tokyopop license the manga for an English release.
Konohana Kitan also received an anime adaptation that aired between October and December 2017, which I have reviewed here.
The first volume of Konohana Kitan contains six chapters – or maybe an introduction and five chapters would be a more accurate way to describe it. Either way, the chapters are not numbered.
Yuzu is a brand new employee at Konohanatei, the hot-springs inn that sits on the crossroads between worlds. A simple, clumsy but charmingly earnest girl, Yuzu must now figure out her new life working alongside all the other fox-spirits who run the inn under one cardinal rule – at Konohanatei, every guest is a god!
Konohana Kitan follows Yuzu’s day to day life working at the inn, meeting the other employees and ever-eclectic guests, and learning to appreciate the beauty of the world around her.
Konohana Kitan wastes almost no time jumping straight into things for this first volume. We get a brief introduction to Konohanatei itself at the beginning, and then we get various events happening at the inn.
Whilst the inn is introduced, the characters who make up the main cast don’t really get the same thing. They are there and carrying out their duties, but it might take some time for a reader to absorb what each characters’ name is, besides Yuzu.
Fortunately, I know the characters from the anime, so that wasn’t something that particularly affected me.
You could call Konohana Kitan a slice of life manga, but that wouldn’t entirely be doing it justice. It is correct, but the stories that Konohana Kitan has to tell are so much more than your typical light-hearted fluff you might expect.
Yuzu and the other foxes work at Konohanatei, but the guests have their own stories to tell as well. In this first volume alone, the stories that at least a couple of the guests are involved in are emotional.
One story in particular, concerning a boy and an old man who both don’t want to leave Konohanatei, has such an incredible twist, and that makes it even more impactful.
Its already been mentioned that the guests of Konohanatei are gods – this kind of writing just goes to show how important the guests can be.
As for our main cast of characters, we get various bits and pieces of information about them. For example, Ren and Natsume are an item, or you have Satsuki being rather fond of Yuzu but not openly.
Whilst the guests do have chapters focusing on them, Konohanatei’s employees do get some of their own focus as well – for example, this volume gives us a rather memorable chapter with a rather large egg.
Some guests may have incredible stories, but those chapters show that Yuzu, Satsuki and the others can be just as compelling, too.
Konohana Kitan also contains moderate fanservice in the form of non-sexual nudity. There are a couple of times when characters’ breasts can be seen, completely uncensored. That kind of thing didn’t exactly make it into the anime adaptation, so that came as a slight surprise to me. It doesn’t detract from the stories being told at all, but it is something to consider before getting into Konohana Kitan.
The first volume of Konohana Kitan leaves a very strong first impression. Yuzu, Satsuki and all the other characters make up a great cast, and the variety of guests staying at Konohanatei provide a wealth of stories to be told.
I very much look forward to seeing what Konohanatei has in store in the future – though thanks to the anime, I do know some of it. Still looking forward to seeing it in manga form, though.