Unrequited love can be a tricky thing, especially if it’s your first crush and the person you like is interested in someone else. How much easier would it be if you could become the person your crush likes instead of you? Inari is about to find out, and a whole host of unintended consequences follow. Her situation only becomes more complicated when she is granted divine power by a goddess that allows her to change into any human. While Inari has the best of intentions, her newly bestowed powers get her into trouble when she meddles in her own and others’ affairs. What follows is a cute anime that explores the power of being true to oneself... even when you have the power to fool everyone into thinking that you are someone else.
This is not a formal review, but rather a more intimate look at what the two of us found enjoyable or otherwise, collaboratively written from both our viewpoints. Neither of us had watched this anime prior to us watching it together.
For Us: A Return to Familiar Territory
I had been striking out recently when trying to pick out anime for my wife and I to share. Wanting to get things back on track, I suggested Inari Konkon knowing that its plot description seemed nearly identical to that of Kamisama Kiss… which had gone over well with the two of us. In fact, it was Kamisama Kiss which inspired us to write our first ‘Watched with my Wife’ post.
In this respect, we were not disappointed with Inari Konkon. While the specifics are different, the main plot formula remains the same: girl meets god, girls is granted powers, with aide of said powers the girl grows into a relationship with a male character. Inari Konkon and Kamisama Kiss are certainly cut from the same cloth, where Inari Konkon focuses on drama and Kamisama Kiss on comedy. We knew what we were getting into, and there weren’t any nasty surprises disrupting the main thrust of the story. That said, we found that Inari Konkon made enough adjustments to the formula to keep things fresh enough that the show wasn’t a complete retread of familiar territory. I won’t go into specifics to spoil anything… suffice to say that the characters are entertaining, the plot has enough twists and turns to remain engaging, and the series drips with an innocence that is both its boon and bane.
For Him: Great Art Direction
For some reason, the art direction for this series really impressed me… and I struggle to put a finger on exactly what that reason is. There are many times where nothing overtly fantastic is being depicted: Inari’s struggles in the classroom, a trip to the beach, spending time at home. While nothing is visually stupefying about those scenes, they are done with a care and an attention to detail that I appreciated. The backgrounds are detailed and crisp. The characters are dynamic and fluidly animated. The musical score is understated but appropriate.
Every once in a while the art direction really punches a scene up that could have fallen flat... as in a scene from a festival shown above. The deliberate rhythm of the passing torii creates a tranquil juxtaposition to the hustle and bustle of the festival presented moments ago. The warm glow of the lanterns bathe everything in red. The camera closes in on the two lead characters focusing your attention on the interplay of their body language and dialogue. I found it very well executed. While Inari Konkon doesn’t necessarily seek to dazzle you with theatrics and visual flair, the level of quality on display made it feel as if I was watching an animated feature film instead of a television show.
For Her: Little Foxes
As you have probably gathered from my past reviews, I love anime animals. The itsy, bitsy fox that is given to Inari is the cutest. What I also love is that there are SO MANY white foxes. Cute overload! What makes me just flip my lid is that the foxes turn into different things to entertain our shrine goddess. My favorite item that they transform into is a romantic video game to allow our ethereal lady to live vicariously through animated characters. Honestly, anime just needs more animals willing to shapeshift into other cool things… like… a bottle of wine. I know that if I were on a journey or helping my shrine goddess BFF, I would definitely need a glass of wine to clear my head. I would designate different foxes to transform into different types of wine… dry, sweet, semi-dry… whatever would suit my mood… yum!
For Us: Touka is a Jerk
Why can Touka see Uka, the shrine goddess? Why is he so distrusting and mean to her? What made him this way? If you’re expecting answers, don’t. Of all the characters in Inari Konkon, Touka is the worst and least developed. We were expecting him to grow and change, or at least have his demeanor explained by some backstory or flashback… but you get none of that. He starts off as a jerk, and ends as slightly less of a jerk. In a series that is so nice and upbeat, Touka sticks out in a bad way. Where every other character develops a relationship based off communication and understanding... Touka remains mildly abusive and standoffish to Uka, who keeps coming back to him because of her loneliness.
For Him: Skews too Young
Inari Konkon’s main character is a middle school student. While I’m well accustomed to the high school setting as a mainstay of anime, I felt that the series loses some of its relatability because the ages of the characters skew so young. I understand that I’m not the target demographic, but it makes it harder to recommend to the older male. The age demographic nagged at me in two noticeable ways...
First, it makes a certain recurring scene somewhat uncomfortable. Yes, what you see above is a brief glimpse of tactfully covered nudity during a transformation scene. The scene happens quickly, but it really jarred me the first time I saw it. Inari has the ability to change into other humans. Inari starts the transformation in her own clothes which disappear during the transformation. She then completes the transformation fully clothed as whomever she is changing into. From a logistic standpoint, there is no reason for her to shed the clothes mid-transformation. Additionally, Inari is never sexualized during the rest of the series, nor is there any fan service of her. I simply can’t comprehend why the director choose to make the transformation scenes involve nudity… especially given the age of the girl depicted.
Second, nearly all of the conflicts within Inari Konkon can, and are, solved by communicating one’s feelings. It feels like lazy writing enabled by most of the cast being middle schoolers, but even the older characters fall into this trap. A heroine’s inability to communicate her feelings to her crush is a mainstay of shojo anime… but the writers use this trope to create all the conflicts that happen between the characters. Similarly, the solution to these conflicts is always when the characters make heartfelt admissions of their feelings to one another. Wash, rinse, repeat. If you are looking for more depth or variety to the obstacles presented in the plot for the characters to surmount, you won’t find it here.
For Her: Goddess = Horrible Decision Maker
So, basically a hippie goddess gives a pre-teen inconceivably tremendous power. HORRIBLE DECISION. And big surprise, her power is directly connected to her emotions. For a pre-teen girl, feelings are NUTS and INTENSE. Bad idea, lady goddess! No wonder a babysitting pocket-fox is bestowed upon Inari. It’s our tiny furry friend’s duty to monitor Inari’s unsteady sea of emotions… a tall order for such a small pup!
Because this is not an official Ani-TAY review, we have eschewed the normal review card.
Inari Konkon is a fun little romantic adventure about first love. If you aren’t bothered by the youth of the characters or the simplicity of their problems, you’ll certainly enjoy this light hearted romp. Inari Konkon does enough to differentiate itself from similar shojo anime to make it worth a watch. Although there are some rough edges present that could be attributed to cultural differences, nothing is too strange or off-putting to warrant an abundance of caution when sharing this series with your romantic partner.
Inari Konkon can be watched on Hulu streaming service. Inari Konkon is based on a manga series written and illustrated by Morohe Yoshida and serialized by Kadokawa Shoten in the manga magazine Young Ace. The series is licensed for regional release in North America by Funimation Entertainment.