Anime Spotlight: Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods

Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods, which is known as Gingitsune in Japan, is an anime based on a manga by Sayori Ochiai. The anime is produced by Diomedea, and it is directed by Shin Misawa.

As of this writing, no one holds the North American distribution license for Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods.

The series focuses on a high school girl named Makoto Saeki. She lives at a shrine with her father, Tatsuo. Her father is the priest, and her mother had been a shrine maiden; Makoto’s mother died when she was four years old. Makoto is able to see Gintaro, the fox spirit who is the shrine’s herald; however, at the beginning of the series she is the only one who can see him. While Makoto’s father may be the priest at the shrine, he married into the family and as such cannot see Gintaro.

During the series, Makoto becomes friends with two of the girls in her class: Yumi Ikegami and Hiwako Funabashi. Yumi is laid back but stubborn, and she has an interest in animals. Hiwako is a model student from a wealthy family, and she’s also the student council vice-president. She starts out being cold to others because of her strict upbringing, but she changes after becoming friends with Makoto and Yumi. Yumi and Hiwako don’t get along very well at first, but this changes as the series progresses.

In episode four, a boy named Satoru Kamio comes to the shrine to live with Makoto and her father. Like Makoto, Satoru also has the sight, which allows him to see heralds. Haru, a herald from Satoru’s shrine, tags along with him. Satoru starts out being rather distant from others, due to being raised by relatives who mistreated him after his grandfather died. Satoru is also proficient in kendo.

After watching the 12 episodes of the series, I found the characters to be realistic and engaging. I also found myself drawn into the drama that the show presented in many of its episodes. While I enjoyed the series overall, I thought there were some pacing issues with the story, and how some characters and elements were introduced so late in the series, there wasn’t any time to explore these new characters and elements. I wonder if perhaps this series needed to be a little longer in length in order to tell the story.

Admittedly, there’s no true conclusion to the series, but for this kind of a story, I don’t think there necessarily needs to be one.

If Wikipedia is to be believed, the manga is currently ongoing in Japan, and as of this writing, only 10 volumes have been released there. This might help to explain why the series was only 12 episodes in length, why the series had a non-ending, and why some of the pacing issues that I noticed exist.

To me, one of the strengths of Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods is how the series was willing to delve into Japanese religion and culture; this makes sense, since the main character lives in a shrine. As a Westerner, I enjoyed learning about these aspects that I probably wouldn’t find out much about otherwise. This series is able to provide that kind of education for a viewer, but it’s still an enjoyable and entertaining viewing experience. It doesn’t feel like you’re being “hit over the head” with it.

Overall, I enjoyed Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods quite a bit, even with the flaws that the series has. It’s a series I wouldn’t mind watching again and owning in my anime home video collection; however, as I stated at the beginning, no one holds the North American distribution rights for the series.

Unfortunately, I think the elements that I have really liked about this series, such as the insight it gives into the Japanese religion and culture, are what is keeping a North American distributor from licensing it. However, I’ll keep hoping that at some point, a licensor takes a chance and picks up this series for a North American home video release.

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