Wait! I think I figured it out!
Look, I’m not gonna lie. As much as this show is structurally a mess at times, it’s fairly apparent that they do know the rules, and sometimes breaking them pays off. Is this one of those times? Quite possibly. But in order to really understand how and why this is, I have to probably address the anime from an angle I really haven’t been for a while. See, I get the impression that for all its Shoujo Ai antics, this is a series that’s ultimately supposed to be heartwarming. It exists to have something of a healing effect. And in that regard, today’s episode does its job. So once again this show manages to dodge a bullet.
But… that just gets into some issues I have with the series. Were that the only goal, I’d probably like this show far more than I do. While I personally find it very enjoyable at times, there are other times that it leaves me scratching my head. And I’ve figured out where that confusion largely comes from. See, the series doesn’t ultimately have a strong sense of identity. On the one hand, it’s just a light show that wants to help you set your worries to rest and cleanse your mind and spirit. On the other hand, it’s a fairly shameless Shoujo Ai comedy.
Now, these two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive at all. The two styles can blend. But I think the issue with the show is that it doesn’t let them blend. It picks and chooses when it wants to be one, versus the others. So in some episodes, where it’s going more for that healing effect, I honestly find that my judgments of the series are caught up in the other half of what the series does. It hasn’t reconciled the two styles, making the series difficult to judge. So an episode like this week’s, which is all-in on the healing and spiritually uplifting aspect, winds up unjustly measured by the standards of an episode like last week’s, which was clearly more focused on the Shoujo Ai aspect.
In one of those healing shows, it might be more okay that Yuzu is the type of non-growing character she is. Because the point is for her presence to heal others and help them grow. But the other half of the show contradicts that storytelling style by making the show more about her and her friends. And in those contexts, things like what we get in this week’s episode just don’t go over well. Yuzu is barely even in it. And when she is, she mostly just winds up helping others with their issues without having an arc of her own.
If removed from the context of this show being Konohana Kitan at all, then this episode actually works out fairly decently. It says its piece on the prospect of dreams versus responsibility. It delves into the idea of living a life wherein you have no choice in certain responsibilities and roles simply being designated to you. It talks about aspirations and goals and all of those things. And it tells a touching, effective story in its own right. Everything falls into place pretty well, there’s a good “Aha” moment or two, and the situations are easily relatable. But all of that exists more or less independent of the Konohana Kitan narrative. None of the main characters aside from Yuzu (and very arguably, Kiri) have a particularly strong impact on the events of the episode.
So ultimately, in the context of an episode like this, no, there isn’t anything “wrong” with Yuzu as a character. The wrongness comes from warring nature of the show. Yuzu belongs in the show that this episode comes from. By contrast, the others belong more in the show that last week’s episode comes from. As she is, you can’t very effectively write Yuzu into that episode’s style. There simply isn’t enough to her. By contrast, using the other characters in this episode’s style would both bloat it, and steal attention away from the actual subject. In order for these two things to work properly and maximize fulfillment, they need to do a better job of merging these styles. That or sacrifice one of them entirely and commit to the one they aim to keep.
And it’s because of the confused nature of the show that I honestly can’t effectively Recommend it. When it’s playing to the tune of last week’s episode, it qualifies perfectly well as Junk Food. It’s certainly funny when it wants to be. And an episode like this is something I’d definitely call Easy Watching. But if this show’s little identity crisis is just too much for you, then there are other things you could be watching. And we have recaps and reviews of a ton of them. Why not check them out?
Or, if you’re like me and just can’t seem to tear yourself away from this cute little show, Konohana Kitan Simulcasts on Crunchyroll, Wednesdays at 8:00am EST.