Konohana Kitan Episode 9
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Konohana Kitan ?
Another episode as heavy and ugly-tears-inducing as last week's might be too much for Konohana Kitan, so it makes sense that this week's episode would drop the pathos and lean hard into the zaniness. Not only is this one of the straight-up wackiest episodes the show's served up yet, it's also the most steeped in Japanese mythology and folklore. This makes the end result a decidedly odd experience, though not necessarily a bad one.
At least the worst moments are front-loaded into the first five or so minutes of the episode. Yuzu's run-in with a talking turtle is good for a couple laughs, but much of the opening story revolves around the foxes wondering if the turtle is THE turtle from a number of Japanese creation myths. Ultimately, the conversation becomes a moot point when the girls rub him down in olive oil and salt to clean him before entering Konohanatei. (The turtle is understandably not keen on becoming soup, so he skedaddles.) The mythology stuff is easy enough to follow, but it isn't in-depth enough to provide a history lesson for anyone unfamiliar with the material, and it doesn't do enough with the concept to surprise anyone who does know the story, so it all feels rather aimless. The gag where Sakura and Yuzu almost drown riding on the turtle's back was a funny bit of dark humor at least.
The main story of the episode is much more cohesive, though it still ends up being pretty bizarre. Awanami, the goddess of bubbles, has come to luxuriate in Konohanatei's baths, and Ren is eager to help the sultry deity with her scrub-down. Given the show's yuri themes, it's unclear how much of this has to do with Ren's dedication to her duty versus her dedication to the booty, but I'm more inclined to go with the former. Yuzu and Ren's slapstick banter in the bathhouse was cute enough, but it's unfortunate how leery the camera gets during Awanami's bathing scenes. Save for episode one, Konohana Kitan has been pretty good about avoiding the kind of fanservice that could turn away an audience that might otherwise adore the show's heartfelt material, so seeing it rear its head here didn't do the episode any favors.
Thankfully, the episode's weird streak overtakes its male gaze moment when poor Ren discovers that she has scrubbed Awanami into a bunch of literal bubbles, a swarm of little soapy blobs that also happen to be sentient baby imps that float off to wreak havoc around Konohanatei. This is exactly as weird as it sounds, and the proceeding madcap shenanigans do a lot to make up for the episode's unevenness. One particular highlight comes when Yuzu is swallowed up and dreams of Japan's creation; the scene is rendered in a style reminiscent of Japanese paintings, beautiful if a little brief. The effect is somewhat undercut when the scene plays again in flashback only a couple of minutes later, but I still appreciate whenever Konohana Kitan uses different art styles to enhance the mood or flavor of a given story.
In the end, the episode isn't bad, though it does feel like one of the series' weaker entries overall. The stories featured this week just aren't especially strong, relying instead on the inexorable charm and undeniable chemistry of its cast to keep it going. Thankfully, Konohana Kitan has that charm and chemistry in spades, which means that even a lesser episode is a perfectly fine way to pass the time.
Konohana Kitan is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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