Uh… conflicting messages, much?
Well… this was sort of a departure from some of the show’s problems, but others are still pretty persistently hanging around. After last week’s mild overall improvement, they got all nervous, so now they’ve got a death grip on things and are determined not to bring the show with them. It doesn’t drag the episode down too much, but… well it’s noticeable.
First and foremost, the episode is once again split into two segments. The first one is completely unrelated to the second and doesn’t have much in the way of narrative structure. Yuzu “learns” more about the world they live in. And in all fairness, this was another instance where she does appear to actually have genuine difficulty with grasping the concept before she comes to this magical resolution. It’s not an overly interesting message, but it’s effective enough, speaking to how the times change, leading to different needs and the like.
The second half of the episode was all about Okiku. And I have some… issues, here. The setup of the episode is simple enough. Okiku goes into town because she’s bored and the others around the hotel are too busy to play with her. While there, she stumbles across yet another doll named Lily (which we don’t learn until later), though I’m not overly certain how she’s alive. I kind of assumed Okiku was only alive because she was cursed, going by the myth she’s based on. But I could be wrong. The spirit world concept (which, by the way, was only made clear very recently) is still a bit murky with me, both in context of the show, and my studies of the actual mythology. Anyway, Okiku finds Lily in the garbage and brings her back to the hotel to be her new friend. Then she takes it upon herself to get the doll all patched up and everything. But the others are still fairly busy, and can’t help with that.
Come to find out that Lily is perfectly fine being pretty beat up and ragged. The message initially seems like a pretty heartwarming and sentimental one about children and their toys. It’s a poetic message about memories of growing up and good times and all that stuff. And then it just takes a bizarrely nonsensical turn because when Okiku points out that they can be friends now because the girl threw her away, Lily states that that’s just how life is for them. They serve their purpose and they exit. Now here we have a couple of issues. Problem One:
Leaving aside my distaste for the bleakness of Lily’s response in the first place, she’s made of porcelain or plastic or some such. She will long outlast any living being, so long as she’s properly taken care of. So while the original owner may outgrow her, if Toy Story 3 has taught us anything, it’s that toys don’t have to be finished, just because one owner is finished with them. I’ve had tons of hand-me-downs in my childhood. The point is that her little message doesn’t work. And it’s only really there for the sake of the ending being kind of a tear-jerker. Don’t get me wrong, the lesson Okiku learns in regards to being played with is a perfectly valid arc for her. And actually kind of heartbreaking in a way But the other part is just… not.
Problem Two: Lily… winds up being dead wrong. After she disappears from the spirit world, or whatever, we get a scene of her back in the mortal world, where her owner (now an adult) finds her and fishes her out of the garbage. From there she proceeds to go on about how Lily is her best friend and she wants to buy some new clothes for her. This is a grown woman. And to drive the point home even further, she digs the doll out of the trash with her boyfriend, who Lily posited was the thing that replaced her, standing five feet away. So not only was the message wrong out-of-universe, it even got contradicted two scenes later. Lily’s back with her owner. And if said owner winds up having kids, guess where she might end up? And that isn’t the only contradiction in this segment, either. Literally last episode Okiku was livid about the idea of there being another doll in the hotel when Satsuki got shrunken down to doll-size. Why does she suddenly want another one around?
Overall, this episode was a bit of a mixed bag. The first half was a fairly enjoyable “Cooldown” piece, worthy of being regarded as Easy Viewing. It even has a couple of funny moments revolving around the hotel’s owner. Buuut, the second episode, despite having a nice arc for Okiku, was just not thought through very well. It not only had a message that ultimately meant nothing, the entire thing was an exercise in futility because the main point of the episode was ultimately walked back on. This I can only call it Harmless, at best. Also: Boo! There wasn’t enough Kiri in this episode! But Bob seems to have had better luck, this time. Check out his new recap on Infinity Force if you wanna see a show that at least knows how to stick to its guns.
But if this relaxing little show can still do no wrong for you, then feel free to keep checking it out. Konohana Kitan Simulcasts on Crunchyroll, Wednesdays at 8:00am EST.