Anime Review: Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha (2014)
Directed by Toru Takahashi, Inari, KonKon, Koi Irohaage story where we witness a young girl, Inari Fushimi, discovering her identity whilst settling into middle school. Voiced by Naomi Ozora, Inari is a clumsy girl who has a crush on classmate Kōji Tanbabashi. One day, after rescuing a fox pup named Kon from falling into a river, Inari is greeted by the shrine god, Mistress Uka, who grants Inari a wish — to transform into someone else.
At first glance, the premise of the show seems to follow the standard shoujo formula with elements of friendship, love and school drama all in one — something that many young viewers can relate with in real life. But with a cast that consists of seiyuus that aren’t well-known, and to be produced by an animation studio that hasn’t made a name for itself — there is nothing about Inari KonKon that stands out at all. However, from the moment the show began its first breath, the show will immediately draw you in without a doubt.
With ten episodes, it is impossible to get significant plot arcs and major character development happening. But Inari KonKon surprisingly manages to setup an intricate yet simple shoujo story that has a good balance of silliness, heart, and slice-of-life drama that flows well without being forced at all.
Despite taking place in a Shinto context utilising popular shoujo and magical girl concepts, Inari KonKon is an old-fashioned story that has certainly been varnished with modernism. By uttering the phrase “Inari, KonKon”, Inari has the power to change shape at will.
This concept would strongly remind viewers of popular series such as Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura and Akko-Chan. While Inari’s personality isn’t as cute, authentic and selfless as Cardcaptor Sakura‘s Kinomoto Sakura, Inari always tries her best to make people happy, especially Mistress Uka.
When Inari sees the treatment towards Mistress Uka in the Celestial Plains, Inari is determined to change Uka’s future. It is quite rare to see such a delightful on-screen presence between two characters – young and old – as we see Mistress Uka and Inari crossing over the boundaries in the hopes of becoming friends.
But unfortunately, Inari realises that she lacks control over her newfound power as problems arise and her schoolmates become distant towards her. Even when all hopes are gone, it is Inari’s innocence and determination to make things right that ultimately captures our heart in the end.
Mistress Uka is probably one of this year’s memorable characters — she’s beautiful and deeply caring yet she is quite entertaining and unconventional. Despite being a highly-valued goddess, Mistress Uka has great interest in Otaku hobbies and is usually seen reading manga and playing games. Much to the disdain of her Mother and fellow gods, Mistress Uka’s curiosity about the human world makes it difficult for her to stay away as it is quite forbidden for a God to interact with humans.
Besides her connection with Inari, it appears Mistress Uka have subtle feelings for Inari’s brother, Tōka. For shoujo fans, the relationship between Mistress Uka and Toka may remind fans of the relationship between Touya and Mizuki-Sensei from Cardcaptor Sakura — will Uka and Toka get their happiness though?
As expected of a Shinto-based story, Inari Konkon delivers just about what we would expect from a story that revolves around the beautiful city of Kyoto. Never have we seen such a magnificently-illustrated series with great details capturing the essence of Japan’s beauty.
Whether it is the ancient temples and authentic landscapes, it makes us yearn to visit Japan and wrap ourselves up in its serenity and surrealism. The story doesn’t only feature Fushimi Inari — the most famous and popular Inari Shrine in Japan — but we’ve got a main character named after the temple as well.
And as if inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s works such as Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, the story sweeps the audience off their feet on a journey between the human world and the Celestial Plains.
Both worlds are uniquely beautiful — the real world is lush, highly detailed and full of life, whereas the Celestial Plains is shrouded with a heavenly vibe of colours and fantastical elements such as the train, foxes and gods. If the art and animation doesn’t woo you, then we’re not sure what would impress you.
Overall: Inari, konKon, Koi Iroha is a heart-warming series that will have you intrigued with its innocence and Spirited Away-like fantastical charm. We all like to believe that there is some spiritual presence looking over us, but this anime also encourages us to believe in ourselves and create possibilities with our own power rather than depending on others. A must-watch series if you’re looking for a modern, old-fashioned shoujo story.
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