The more things change, the more they stay the same. Though I have to wonder if anything changed at all, here.
And now I find myself in the uncomfortable position of reaching the end of a series I quite possibly should have passed over for something else. That isn’t to say that I think the series is a waste as a whole. Far from it. But as I look over the list of other things that came out this season, and read up on things covered by several other reviewers out there, I wonder why I chose this. Possibly to fill the void of cuteness left by dropping Urahara. We all know I have an inexplicable weakness for the adorable. And considering the rest of my list is a thought-provoking adventure, a stylistic but disjointed ensemble, and… “Aaaaauuuuugh!” it seemed warranted to have something around that was just cute. But I digress.
The twelfth and final episode of Konohana Kitan‘s first (and most likely last) season is upon us. So how does it fare? Eh. The same old problems return. It’s time for New Years, and the cast decides to visit a shrine in celebration. Of course, Yuzu gets lost… for about the fourth time in the series, and accidentally winds up in another… world… time… something like that. It’s a little confusing. Not to mention we haven’t the foggiest idea how she managed to get lost there. And by that I mean she was walking one second, then suddenly wound up in some sort of nexus for the gods. One mistakes her for one of them and drags her into another time-place-whatever.
For once the episode has a singular arc throughout. But I can’t help but feel like the episode was otherwise pretty weak. Yuzu thinks she’s stuck there forever and gets all misty about never seeing her friends again. This is all after she’s opted to help the gods catalog all the wishes they need to grant for the new year… which leads me to think she entered an area where time just stands still so they’re constantly bombarded with everyone’s wishes from all across time at once. In which case, no way they get anything done with how many people they have on duty. But whatever. Not important. The problem really is that the episode has zero arc for Yuzu. The one character who has an “arc” is the one who accidentally dragged her to this time period. But that arc is just so pitifully uninspired that it doesn’t really have any impact.
When Yuzu gets all sad about not seeing her friends again, they ridicule her for thinking the way she does. After all, they’re just going to go their separate ways one day, right? Yuzu’s response? “Well, that’s all right, because I still met them!” …If that’s the best reason you can muster, then why don’t you just stay where you are? I know what the message she was trying to convey was. She doesn’t want to say goodbye to them until the time when they do have to part. But that isn’t the message her wording conveyed at all. Furthermore, this message is Just. Not. Applicable. To. The Times. Yes, in that world their parting ways may be more impactful because of the lack of modern technology, but this is a story that came out today. And today, it is exceptionally easier to stay in touch with people who you must physically be apart from. Heck, that was a point made at the end of K.K.’s feature of Kekkai Sensen.
My point is that if your message was going to be about parting ways with those you love, then the situation needed to, unfortunately, be much different. Because at this point the only thing that is guaranteed to prevent people who want to stay in touch from doing so is death. And I’m not saying they should tackle the subject of death in this series (in the grim sense, anyway, as they’ve already covered the subject no less than three times, as is). But this series, in general, has a problem with its messages being incredibly easy to unravel with a little thought.
Aside from that, the reveal of who the worker wound up being was weak. Not because it was handled poorly. Far from it. It was because the character is someone who actually has quite the significance in the show… and yet throughout the show, they’re hardly around to form these connections. We don’t really get to know much about them, they barely talk to anyone, and overall have such a non-presence that the reveal is met with little more than a “…huh.”
And then there’s the other issue. About 90% of the episode is spent on Yuzu, with the others having basically no significance. None of them do a single solitary thing. They look for her, of course, but it’s irrelevant because she comes back without them being involved in any way. The god who got her there wound up wishing for her to return. That’s it. That’s literally all. The reunion isn’t even all that remarkable. Yuzu isn’t even afforded a chance to reflect on the adventure. Does Satsuki get a moment to really show the depth of worry that she no doubt felt for the girl? Nope. And she’s inarguably the one who was closest with her. Kiri doesn’t get any of her jokes in to make the episode worth it. Sakura, Ren, Natsume, Okiku? Ancillary, at best.
But I suppose it’s fitting. Konohana Kitan is a show that has some brief moments of great storytelling. But it’s bogged down by the considerably lackluster execution of the rest of it. It’s funny when it wants to be. But not a moment before. It’s heartwarming when it feels like it. But tends to have trouble with mixed messages. It has a knack for developing characters. But only when that character isn’t named Yuzu. Overall, the show’s continuing identity crisis is just too distracting to fully recommend. I can, at best, say that this episode is just… Harmless. And even that is being fairly generous. It’s a shame, really. I’d hoped to like this more than I did. It has its moments, but it’s just nothing to write home about in the grander scheme of things. EvilBob seems to have had better luck of the draw, this season, however. Why not check out his final recap of Infinity Force. And stay toon’d for a summary review of the full series in the coming weeks!
Did you enjoy Konohana Kitan? If you didn’t get to catch it yourself, it’s currently available on Crunchyroll. Perhaps you’ll be of a different opinion.