Oh. So they finally got around to this episode, huh? A’right.
Genre: Slice of Life, Supernatural
So much for all that buildup. This episode centered around a ghost getting into the hotel on a night when Kiri decided to tell the staff a ghost story. But first, we get a tiny little glimpse into Yuzu’s past that shows how she was adopted by Bikuni. Since I don’t think they plan to expand on why she was alone in the first place, I’ll leave it for now. It was pretty cute, as you’d expect.
Right after that, the ghost blows out all the- wait. They… they very clearly live in the modern world, as shown in the last episode. And even a portion of this one. Is… is modern technology a taboo for them, or something? Why is every light in the place a candle? They don’t even have flashlights? Eh. Whatever. Small thing. So the staff splits up to check on the guests, turn the lights back on, and find the aforementioned ghost. If I’m honest, I partially expected this setup in the previous episode, when they started to go into the whole haunted doll thing.
The time spent with each group is brief, showing each pair running into the ghost as it imitates one person or another, then runs off. Out of this, we learn that Satsuki is interestingly afraid of the dark. And that admittedly leads to a funnier scene when she confirms this, herself. It’s a little subversion I wasn’t expecting and got a laugh out of. Once they have their final confrontation with the ghost (punctuated by a moment that just confirms why Kiri is the best thing about this show), Yuzu disappears.
And then comes the part where I have to step back and address some of the problems with the series, again. Yuzu has been taken by the ghost. Not forcibly, mind you, but she went with it. Yet Yuzu is immediately aware that the ghost isn’t Satsuki, who it’s impersonating. Probably because the ghost is really bad at acting like the hotel’s resident Tsundere. So what next? They just… talk. And then the ghost decides to steal a peek at Yuzu’s memories in order to seek an answer to its question.
The problem is the flashback. Mind you, I don’t think it was implemented poorly. Having the ghost peer into Yuzu’s memories is perfectly fine. But there are two major problems with the flashback. It’s far too long, and it reveals way too much. Previously we’d only gotten glimpses of Yuzu’s prior life. And unraveling that thread slowly throughout the course of the series would have been a much stronger method of telling the story since that was pretty much where all of the intrigue around the character came from. Because of her aforementioned lack of goals, that ambiguous background was the main point interest. But now we essentially know everything relevant about her.
Furthermore, the flashback tells more than one story, thus when it feels as though it should end, it keeps going. The first half of it was perfectly fine on its own. The second half is more or less unnecessary. All it really does is essentially reveal everything that’s really left to know about Yuzu, which it could have saved for later, rather than halfway through the series. Unless something major happens in subsequent episodes. Until then, it just serves as padding, causing the flashback to take up nearly half of the entire runtime.
But more than anything else, the flashback highlights the problem with Yuzu even more than it already had been. As touching as it is, the resolution of the story in the flashback is all about Yuzu being sent to Konohanatei in order to continue to develop and learn from those around her. Except the thing is… Yuzu isn’t really learning anything from her new friends, as much as she’s just learning about them. In fact, more often than not, she’s the one who teaches them. And frankly, the other characters have so far not had a lot to teach.
Because of this, the payoff of the episode feels forced. Yuzu’s assertion that she’s learned from everyone rings hollow because she’s basically the same now as she was when the show started. Just… not as clumsy… maybe. That’s basically it. Mind you, I have absolutely no problem with a series that’s about how the lead character affects the world around them. I’ve written several. The problem is that the show seems to be convinced that that isn’t what it is. So it’s not fully committing to either route and is thus over-extending. Conversely, this is still a comedy. They could Yuru Yuri it up, by making the meta-joke and pointing out that Yuzu’s just kind of there, most of the time, much like that show does with its protagonist, consistently pushed to the background among many far more interesting characters.
The show is definitely not going to win awards in storytelling. It still manages to be pretty funny, a fair amount of the time, but it seems reluctant to let Yuzu be an actual lead. And it’s not like the show doesn’t know how to develop characters. Satsuki has shown a level of complexity far beyond the others, even if it isn’t all that remarkable. So the capacity is there. I do get the impression that this is more of a series that’s supposed to have sort of a healing effect. By interacting with her, or with one another, characters overcome the pains of their past and that’s fine. But in its current state, I can’t really get this series past being just… Harmless. Again, it’s funny enough and good enough at evoking the right emotions that I can get it to Junk Food, personally, but it’s just not gonna do that for everyone. Agree? Disagree? Maybe you’ll enjoy some of our other content.
If you want to decide for yourself, Konohana Kitan Simulcasts on Crunchyroll, Wednesdays at 8:00am EST.
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